Lifetime Achievement Award

John McLaughlin

2014

John McLaughlin, known to all as “Big John”, is a deep sea diver, marine engineer, underwater cinematographer, marine mammal trainer, coast guard certified master diver, demolition instructor, and deep sea salvage for the U. S. Navy and more. He is best known as a Hollywood underwater stuntman, and his business card reads, “License to thrill.” As there was already an actor with the name John McLaughlin, he changed his name to “Big John” and ever since has been known as Big John McLaughlin.

 

Big John got his start with the “Sea Hunt” T.V. series and it was there that he struck up a great friendship with its star, Lloyd Bridges. Thanks to Big John, Bridges donated his “Sea Hunt” wet suit and other materials to the ISHOF Museum.

Big John got his start with the “Sea Hunt” T.V. series and it was there that he struck up a great friendship with its star, Lloyd Bridges. Thanks to Big John, Bridges donated his “Sea Hunt” wet suit and other materials to the ISHOF Museum.

 

During the 1960’s and the 1970’s, Big John, along Film Director, Ricou Browning, made the James Bond series, “Shaken, Not Stirred”. His favorite film was “Thunderball”, where he was a stunt double for 34 different people. He also worked as a stunt double for “Goldfinger”, “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Never Say Never”. In addition to the Bond films, McLaughlin worked on some 30 other films, some of which included; “Day of the Dolphin”, “Namu the Killer Whale”, “Around the World Under the Sea”, “Cocoon”, “Police Academy V”, and “Mako: The Jaws of Death”. Big John was also involved with hit television shows. He worked on the TV series “Flipper”, “Gentle Ben”, “The Six Million Dollar Man”, “The Bionic Woman”, and 12 other shows.

Big John had a hand in preparing the tables used by divers around the world, including Saturation Diving Techniques. He ascended to 520 feet at Lake Michigan and was one of the first to dive using neon gas. He was also one of the first to experiment with outside or saturation of mixed gases. In 1970, a light airplane crashed into Lake Mead, killing the U.S. Atomic Energy Commissioner, who was on board with four others. The recovery effort was so deep, John had to use a diving bell at the site complete with a barge and decompression chamber.

 

In 1998, John was named “Diver of the Year” by divers and equipment managers. He has taught many movie stars to dive including Sean Connery, Tom Cruise, and Brooke Shields. Big John’s passion for the environment moved him to make a public outcry about the coral at Fort Lauderdale which being destroyed by ship anchors. His words fell on deaf ears, but Big John could not be stopped. Ten years and an act of Congress later, the coral preserving-anchoring patterns were finally put into place. Big John played a vital role in saving these reefs for future generations of divers to enjoy.

In later years Big John married the late Dorothy “Dottie” McLaughlin, long time ISHOF employee. The numerous

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