Flipper started as a feature film, released by MGM in 1963, with Chuck Connors (fresh from The Rifleman) as marine ranger Porter Ricks. This, then, would explain Connors working with producer Ivan Tors on the series, Cowboy In Africa, some time after the movie, because Connors was replaced by a relative newcomer, Brian Kelly, in the sequel, "Flipper's New Adventure", released in the summer of 1964.
In the fall, Flipper began a 3 year run on NBC, but what viewers didn't know was that there were six different dolphins, five of them female, used for the title role. The lone male, Clown, performed Flipper's famous walk.
Luke Halpin, who co-starred in the two feature films, and Kelly returned for the series, and joined by Hollywood veteran Andy Devine (ex-Wild Bill Hickok) in season 1. TVtestcard uploaded the open:
While Bud was created for the TV show only, he played a prominent role in the 1995 revival of the series, which introduced audiences to a young Jessica Alba, who co-starred during the first two seasons. The remake lasted 4 years, two in syndication, the last two airing on PAX (now Ion). In between seasons 1 & 2 of the revival, Flipper returned to the big screen, this time with Paul Hogan ("Crocodile Dundee") starring. That film didn't exactly set box office records, mind you, and hasn't aired on cable in years.