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Record Group Number: 900000
Series/Collection Number: N2016- 1
Creator: Benda, Nancy, 1930-2015.
Title, Dates: Papers, 1930-2006, bulk ca. 1940s-1967.
Amount: 3.25 cubic ft.
Medium Included:
Organization/Arrangement: Organized into three series: Series 1) Personal Papers and Photo Albums, 1930-2003, 0.75 cubic foot; Series 2) Weeki Wachee Mermaid Career Files, 1946-2005, 1 cubic foot; Series 3) "Miss Nancy's Store" and Educational Television Files, 1964-1971, 1 cubic foot. Chronological within each series.
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Biographical/Historical:     Nancy Tribble Benda was born April 2, 1930 in Deland, Florida. When she was ten, the family moved to Tallahassee. While attending Leon High School, Nancy began practicing swimming with Newton Perry and other local girls at Wakulla Springs. She worked as one of the first mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs when it opened for its first show in October of 1947. The following month, Nancy traveled to Hollywood to audition as a mermaid for "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid". While the main part went to Ann Blyth, the movie's producers chose Nancy as Ann's swimming body double. Filmed in Weeki Wachee, "Mr. Peabody" released in 1948 and Nancy received the key of the city of Tampa while promoting the film. In the 1950s, Nancy attended Florida State University where she was a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority and the Tarpon Club. She also married Charles "Chuck" J. Benda and left Weeki Wachee to pursue a career in education.

    As an educator during the rise of popular television in the 1960s, Nancy became an advocate of educational television for children at home and in schools. In 1966, Nancy starred in "Miss Nancy's Store," produced by WFSU. It was one of the earliest children's television shows and was wildly popular at the time, reaching thousands of audience members in Florida and Georgia. Unfortunately the show ended in August of 1967 due to lack of funds, and Nancy later worked for the Florida Department of Education until she retired.

    In 2007, Tallahassee Community College professor Lucinda Vickers published "Weeki Wachee, City of Mermaids: A History of One of Florida's Oldest Roadside Attractions" for which she interviewed Nancy about her experience as one of the first mermaids.

    Nancy Tribble Benda passed away in July 2015.
Summary:     This collection documents Nancy Tribble Benda's life and varied personal and career interests. Personal letters, art, and photo albums represent her early life as a child in Deland and Tallahassee, as well as her experience as a student at Leon County High School and Florida State University. Scrapbooks, photographs, and newspapers record her experience as a mermaid at Weeki Wachee Springs and her participation in the filming of "Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid." Reports, letters, publications, and other paper records document her activities as a proponent of children's educational television and host of WFSU's television show "Miss Nancy's Store."
Finding Aids: Folder listing available.
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Electronic Records Access:
Subject Access Fields: Benda, Charles J.
Blyth, Ann, 1928-
Florida State University.
Leon High School (Tallahassee, Fla.)
WFSU-TV (Television station : Tallahassee, Fla.)
Educational broadcasting Florida.
Television Florida.
Women in the broadcasting industry Florida.
Women in television broadcasting.
Women television personalities.
Mermaids Florida  --Weeki Wachee.
Swimming.
Clippings. aat
Photographs. aat
Reports. aat
Scrapbooks. aat
Television scripts. aat
Tampa (Fla.)
Tallahassee (Fla.)
Wakulla Springs (Fla.)
Weeki Wachee Springs (Fla. : Springs)
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