Splash marked the beginning of Tom Hanks' ascension into movie superstardom, proof that Ron Howard was getting somewhere with his second career as a director, and the beginning of Touchstone Pictures, the Disney distribution label meant to release movies for people who weren't technically children. The fantasy rom-com starred Hanks as Allen Bauer, a man who falls for a woman (Daryl Hannah) who tries to hide the fact that she is a mermaid walking around New York City, and the mythical creature Allen came across as a child.
1. BRIAN GRAZER CAME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR SPLASH WHILE DRIVING DOWN THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY.
One fateful night, while driving down the PCH near Malibu in 1977, Brian Grazer—then 25 years old—thought about what it would be like to meet a mermaid and fall in love. For seven years, he was turned down by most Hollywood studios until he revised his pitch for Splash to be more of a love story between a man and a mermaid. Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, who penned Ron Howard’s Night Shift (1982), and Bruce Jay Friedman (Stir Crazy) were the credited screenwriters for Splash. The script was nominated for a Best Original Screenplay Oscar.
2. RON HOWARD TURNED DOWN BIG DIRECTORIAL ASSIGNMENTS TO DO IT.
Ron Howard said no to directing Mr. Mom (1983) and Footloose (1984) to stay attached to Splash.
3. GRAZER AND HOWARD RUSHED TO MAKE IT BEFORE A WARREN BEATTY-STARRING MERMAID MOVIE COULD BE MADE.
Not only was Beatty set to star, but Robert Towne (Chinatown) was brought in to rewrite the Mermaid script for a reported $500,000. A possible actors strike delayed progress, and eventually the project was declared dead.
4. JOHN TRAVOLTA, CHEVY CHASE, BILL MURRAY, AND DUDLEY MOORE TURNED DOWN PLAYING ALLEN.
It was Louisa Velis, Howard's longtime assistant, who suggested that Howard let Hanks audition. Steve Guttenberg also auditioned. He found out he didn't get the part at the same time he heard he was getting screen tested for Police Academy (1984). Michael Keaton remembered being offered the role of Allen's brother, Freddie—a part that eventually went to John Candy .
5. DIANE LANE TURNED DOWN PLAYING MADISON.
She said no to appear in Streets of Fire (1984) and The Cotton Club (1984).
6. JOHN CANDY WANTED TO PLAY DR. WALTER KORNBLUTH.
Howard convinced Candy to play Freddie instead. Howard hired Candy's SCTV co-star Eugene Levy for the mad scientist instead, based on Candy's suggestion.
7. DARYL HANNAH'S FIN WEIGHED 35 POUNDS.
It took technicians three hours per day to put the 35-pound rubber fin on Hannah, who had to remain still while it was being attached. "At lunch they'd yank me out on a crane and plop me on the deck," she told People. "I couldn't eat because I couldn't go to the bathroom. I just lay there shivering with barnacles in my hair, soaking wet."
8. HANKS HAD TROUBLE WITH THE WATER SCENES, PARTLY BECAUSE HE WAS A SMOKER.
"I grew up in awe of Jacques Cousteau and the American Sportsman shows on TV," he said. "Scuba was something I would maybe do on a dare after enough beers. But as a job I found the diving a real challenge."
9. THEY FILMED IN NEW YORK, LOS ANGELES, AND THE BAHAMAS.
One month of filming took place in New York City, another month took place in Los Angeles, and two weeks of underwater shooting went down in the Bahamas.
10. IT WAS FILLED WITH HOWARD FAMILY CAMEOS.
Ron's father, Rance, was Mr. McCullough, the man very upset over cherries. Ron's brother, noted character actor Clint Howard, played a wedding guest. Ron's wife, Cheryl, and his assistant, Louisa Velis, were two of the people standing outside of the church during the wedding scene.
11. HANNAH GOT VERY UPSET OVER EATING THE LOBSTER SHELL.
The vegan actress broke down crying. "She could not swallow," Howard recalled. "So Brian Grazer and I rushed into the kitchen, scooped out the lobster meat, and replaced it with baked potato and hearts of palm. You can't tell it isn't lobster."
12. IT POPULARIZED THE NAME "MADISON."
In the United States, Madison went from the 216th most popular name for girls in 1990, to 29th in 1995, and 3rd by 2000. The joke in Splash back in 1984, as Hannah pointed out when talking about the phenomenon with Yahoo!, was that Madison was such a "silly name" (the mermaid named herself after Madison Avenue).
13. CANDY WAS MODEST ABOUT HIS WORK.
"It wasn't Willy Loman, or King Lear," Candy assessed. "People said 'Wow, you can really act.' Hell, I was just doing what I had been doing for years on SCTV."
14. THERE WAS A MADE-FOR-TV SEQUEL.
The Disney TV movie aired on ABC on May 1 and May 8, 1988. Splash, Too's lone cast member from the original was Dody Goodman, reprising her role as Mrs. Stimler. In the sequel, Allen (Todd Waring) and Madison (Amy Yasbeck) live on land to help Freddie (Donovan Scott) and Bauer Produce—and save a captive dolphin.
15. HANNAH COULDN'T KEEP THE TAIL.
"The costume, the tail, it was made out of a material that decomposed pretty soon after," Hannah explained.