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Vet 2745

SHARKHUNTERS Salutes Veterans

ARTHUR FLEMING (2745-1993)

United States Navy, Aviation

He was born Arthur Fleming Fazzin on 1 May 1924 in New York to parents who had emigrated from Austria where they were a famous European dance team. A big guy at 6′ 4″ and 220 pounds, he starred at football and water polo at Colgate and Cornell Universities.

With the outbreak of World War Two, ART joined the United States Navy as an aviator. He had pretty soft duty, flying a PBY Catalina patrol bomber along the Florida coast. Nobody was shooting at him and he just flew along, looking for U-Boats. Suddenly one day – he saw one; he saw a periscope! He banked his ‘CAT‘ around hard, set up a bombing run and just at the proper moment, hit the pickle button to drop two depth charges. There was a malfunction in the bombing system and instead of two depth charges dropping, his entire load of depth charges dropped! He said it was one hell of an explosion that even rocked his PBY, but he knew he got that U-Boat! So he banked around to get visual on the expected huge oil slick and debris. Instead, he found a sea, red with blood as well as bits and pieces of …whale! What he thought was a periscope was actually the whale spouting. The fish ate well that day.

He had tried acting when he was a little boy of 4, so when he got out of the Navy, he went into broadcasting and was an announcer on a radio station in North Carolina where he was the very first person to make the statement that became very popular; “Winston Tastes Good Like a Cigarette Should.

After a while on radio, he went to Hollywood where he was the stunt double for movie Ralph Bellamy in the television series ‘Man Against Crime‘.

He was in a great many movies and did television commercials as well, and there Merv Griffin spotted him and hired him as the first host of the extremely successful television game show ‘Jeopardy!‘.

He did so well hosting the show from 1964 through 1979 that he received two EMMY nominations.

When the show returned to air in 1984, Merv Griffin asked ART to come back and host the show, but he declined.

There just is not enough room here to list all the movies and TV shows in which he worked.

ARTand his wife Becky had retired and in 1992 and he decided to leave the retirement community where they lived because he told us, he would meet and chat with other retirees and the main topic of conversation was whether each guy’d had a bowel movement that week. He knew there was more to retirement life that than. They were driving north on the Florida Turnpike and stopped at one of the big rest areas for a glass of orange juice, and they got to thumbing through the brochures there. They found one that touted the beauty of Citrus County on Florida’s West Coast, so they headed over to take a look. They fell in love with Citrus County and bought a home in Crystal River, about twenty miles from Sharkhunters Headquarters. Harry and Kaycee Cooper met the Flemings and were friends with them until ART‘s sad passing from pancreatic cancer on 25 April 1995, just before his 71st birthday. His ashes were scattered at sea and Becky left the area, moved back where she had family.