Housing Manufacturer, Movie Mogul, Cinematographer, and Entrepreneur
It was his love affair with the ocean and his father
leaving that caused Jordan’s migration from his birth place of
Cleveland, Ohio to Miami Beach, Florida. The year was 1925 and
Jordan Klein relocated at the tender age
of three. He attended school at Miami Beach
Elementary then went on to Lindsey Hopkins Tech High in
Miami. It was at this time he developed a fascination with
what made things work topside and underwater. Self-taught,
he gained all his engineering knowledge on his own. Klein
became very well trained in engineering for his life’s
challenges. In high school he did high board diving on the
school dive team.
Jordan Klein with Flipper
Like all divers, during this early period Jordan was
experimenting on how to stay down and see what was in the ocean.
He made most of his own dive gear. He and his good buddy, Truly
Nolan, did most of their experiments together. Those of you who
have been to Florida will see Truly’s name all over the place
and on old cars.
He went into the Navy at the beginning of WWII. He was assigned
to crash boat duty at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Fl, then
U.S. Navy Dive
First dive shop in Miami, Converted PT boat
School and later to a light cruiser (CL-11, USS Trenton)
in the Pacific.
Upon returning home in 1946, he bought a 38-foot vessel from the
Miami Marine Lab. He converted the boat for skin diving and
underwater cameras with the saying, “shoot the fish
with film.” It was one of the first skin diving
boats on the East Coast and was called the Arbalete.
It’s important to remember that Scuba had not arrived yet. Skin diving was the
underwater sport of that day.
Jordan’s first love was photography.
He worked for the Ft. Lauderdale News, honing his
skills. He also shot stills of hotels and guests along Miami
Jordan formed Marine Enterprises in 1947 with Jerry Greenburg,
another famous photographer. The two manufactured underwater
camera housings together. One year later, Jerry formed his own
company called SEAHAWK Housings and Jordan called his MAKO.
During this period Jordan manufactured and sold over 55,000
(thru Healthways) underwater cameras using the guts of the
Camera. The camera sold for $14.95, with a flash
it sold for $19.95. He also was making metal and plastic
housings and was selling them internationally. He then built
housings for Arriflex 35 mm motion picture cameras for a New
York rental house. He later moved on from personal housings and
into professional housings and the motion picture business.
In 1948 he started buying the Ingersol Rand 3321 compressors and
was converting them for diving with filtration. At this time he
contacted Rene Bussoz in LA to sell the French manufactured Aqua
Lung in Miami. He bought Cressi from Gustav Dalla Valla. He also
sold Scott Hydro Packs, eventually becoming the national
distributor for Scott Aviation.
Jordan went to Dick Kline, president of Healthways, and sold him
two of his patents to be manufactured. One was the Mako Shark
120 roll film waterproof camera complete with flash for $19.95.
They eventually sold over 55,000. The other was an 8 mm
waterproof camera which was never produced.
In 1952 Jordan opened Marineland Inc in Miami. He later changed
the name to Underwater Sports in 1954. He eventually sold the
company in 1968 to New England Divers which sold diver equipment
At this time he had bought a surplus PT boat, which was 80 feet
long and offered charters throughout the Caribbean. He captained
the boat for
three years for such famous people as Errol Flynn,
Herb Shiner, William Randolph Hearst Jr, Cary Grant, The Shah of
Iran, Princess Soroyan and “the great one”, Jackie Gleason, just
to name a few.
When Jordan got bored he raced cars in the Bahamas, as well as
racing hydroplanes, eventually winning the Orange Bowl Regatta
Cup in Miami. He also started flying airplanes at age 14 and is
still flying his airplane today.
At this time Jordan could see the growth of diving and the need
for filtered air for divers because the lack of standards and
the construction compressors being
breathing were dangerous. U/W Sports was sold along with his charter dive
He then formed Mako Products Inc and Jordan Aero Marine, Inc. in
Miami, Florida. He started out by buying surplus air compressors
and converting them to breathing air compressors for divers. He
then started working with Bauer of Germany and developed
standards for diver purification and air quality. These MAKO
high pressure compressors became the standard for the diving
industry. Jordan moved the Mako compressor business to Ocala,
Florida in 1978 and in 1979 he sold the business to Compair
Limited of London, England. A new company was then formed,
Compair Mako Inc, and he remained the CEO for 3 more years.
Through all this he continued to manufacture underwater housings
for the dive industry’s best photographers, Stan Waterman, Al
Giddings, and Peter Gimbel, just to name a few. Jordan was
making housings for 35 mm still and theatrical 35mm motion
picture cameras, 8 mm and 16 mm movie cameras. These were sold
throughout the world. When it came to movie making and being
involved in underwater pictures, Jordan and his innovations to
the underwater industry will always make him a legend of the
Mako Products Inc has designed and manufactures a stabilization
system for holding “ horizon” while on a rolling boat. This unit
is mounted on a
tripod or crane, and then the camera package is mounted.
The unit is waterproof so it can be lowered into the water off
of a rolling boat to take stable pictures below, at and above
the surface. It has been used in the Harry Potter and Bond
pictures, along with many other films. At least one of the units
is in use today, somewhere in the world.
Klein’s most memorable picture was THUNDERBALL, working on the
designs with Ken Adam and then building all of the underwater
props. He also worked with some of the greatest divers and underwater
crews, like Ricou Browning, Big John McLaughlin, Courtney
Brown and a
list too long to recount. Jordan worked together with many of
these same men on many more pictures in the days to come. Klein
treasures the time he spent working on Thunderball and to this
day still owns the underwater scooters that he designed for the
movie. It was greatly due to Jordan’s innovations that the movie
received such attention and acclaim.
Jordan Klein’s contributions to underwater photography and
cinematography are legendary. Some of the over 75 feature films
he worked on and/or designed and built props and sets are:
Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)
The Aquarians (1962)
Flipper (1963 & 1988)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Live and Let Die (1973)
Never Say Never Again (1983)
The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
Miami Vice (1985)
The Abyss (1989)
China Moon (1990)
Bermuda Triangle (1995)
Sea Quest (1999)
Just a few of his many awards include:
Academy Award acknowledgment as Director of Underwater
Engineering for special effects and props in Thunderball (1966)
Honored Photographer at the International Underwater Film
Special Tribute at the International Underwater Film Festival
NOGI Award for Arts from the Underwater Society of America
International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame (2002)
International Photographer of the Year Award from the Nassau
Ministry of Tourism (1999)
Academy Award for Technical Achievement in Underwater
In 2001 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences awarded
Jordan an Academy Award for” Technical `Achievement ”
The Bahamian Govt Awarded Jordan their prestige” Cacique” Award
in 1998, usually reserved for locals
The “Australian Cinematography Society”, 1998
Grand Cayman’s “Film Festival Honors” in 2003