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Zale Parry: Ambassador of Diving


Editorial By John Christopher Fine

Zale Parry’s blue eyes give directness to her features. The directness is not diminished when she adds her specs to contemplate some document or other. Zale has been a Hollywood actress. She says she worked as a stunt double for the likes of Sophia Loren and Carol Baker, and was costar with the late legendary actor Lloyd Bridges in the Sea Hunt series. Sea Hunt ran on television from 1957 to 1961. Zale had roles in everything from Wagon Train to the Twilight Zone.

Named the Academy of Underwater Arts and Science’s Ambassador at Large, Zale could be found at the DEMA show diligently fulfilling that role often in the company of the late Al Tillman, dive pioneer and co-author with Zale of a series of large format volumes called SCUBA AMERICA a chronicle about legendary divers. Zale was flown in from her home in Oregon to participate in the NAUI 50th Anniversary celebration in Tampa, Florida.

Approachable, candid, frank, and conscientious Zale is unlike the stereotype of a movie actress.

That’s because Zale was a diver. Time tested, through and through, soldered to divers everywhere by what the father of diving, Phillipe Tailliez, called The Salt of The Sea.

Zale was born in Milwaukee where she enjoyed summers with her family at a lake. Zale took a fancy to water ballet. Moved with her parents to California where she taught Red Cross Water Safety, worked days at Douglas Aircraft and studied theatre at UCLA nights.

Zale met, then later married, Parry Bivens whose work in hyperbaric medicine is legend. Zale worked with her husband, tested dive equipment, used newly invented camera housings and stood at the threshold of a grand adventure that was becoming a phenomenon in California and around the world: scuba diving.

Zale became friends and worked with Colonel John Craig the creator of Marineland of the Pacific. Then came the studio contracts and film offers. Dr. Bivens died in 1963, leaving Zale and their daughter Margaret. Ten years later Zale received the NOGI award for Distinguished Service.

Zale never neglected to initiate innovative ideas. Along with Al Tillman she produced the International Underwater Film Festival in California, a gig that ran for 17 years. Zale is an important subject of Ed Cargile’s tome PIONEERS IN DIVING, and has many awards and kudos to her credit list.

“We’ve never seen her any other way. She is always warm as she is now,” Alese Pechter, who with her late husband Mort, were DEMAs official photographers. If any people saw the real stories behind the images, the Pechters did. The rave review was echoed by Mort, who found Zale charming.

Eyes do not betray a person’s temperament. Zale’s clear, direct look mirrors her personality. Whatever Zale has done in diving was motivated by her concern for the sport of aquatic discovery and the people in it.