Lloyd Bridges in 1966
Lloyd Vernet Bridges Jr.
January 15, 1913
San Leandro, California, U.S.
|Died||March 10, 1998 (aged 85)|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles|
Dorothy Simpson (m. 1938)
|Children||4, including Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges|
Lloyd Vernet Bridges Jr. (January 15, 1913 - March 10, 1998) was an American film, stage and television actor who starred in a number of television series and appeared in more than 150 feature films. He was the father of four children, two are the actors Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges.
He started his career as a contract performer for Columbia Pictures, appearing in films such as Sahara (1943), A Walk In The Sun (1945), Little Big Horn (1951) and High Noon (1952). On television, he is best remembered for starring in Sea Hunt from 1958 to 1961. By the end of his career, he re-invented himself and demonstrated a comedic talent in such parody films as Airplane!, (1980) Hot Shots!, and (1991) Jane Austen's Mafia! (1998)
Bridges was born in San Leandro, California, to Lloyd Vernet Bridges Sr. (1887-1962), who was involved in the California hotel business and once owned a movie theater, and his wife Harriet Evelyn (Brown) Bridges (1893-1950). His parents were both natives of Kansas, and of English ancestry. Bridges graduated from Petaluma High School in 1930. He then studied political science at UCLA, where he was a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
He appeared on stage in Suzanna and the Elders (1940). In Hollywood he had an uncredited role in Northwest Passage (1940).
He could be seen in The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance (1941), They Dare Not Love (1941), Doctor's Alibi (1941), Blue Clay (1941), Our Wife (1941), and I Was a Prisoner on Devil's Island (1941). In Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) Bridges is the pilot of the plane in the "heaven" scene.
Bridges later reflected,
I didn't have enough maturity for a leading man. I looked too broad in the shoulders ... too much like a kid. I never could get into (Columbia studio boss) Harry Cohn's office. All the best roles went to Glenn Ford and William Holden. They just put me in these awful B-pictures, like Two Latins from Manhattan. I even did a Three Stooges short. Sometimes I'd be in two or three movies a week. It was tough sledding.
He left Columbia Pictures during World War II to enlist in the United States Coast Guard. Following his discharge, he returned to acting. In later years he was a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, 11th District (California) and did several public service announcements for the Coast Guard. Bridges' Sea Hunt character Mike Nelson was portrayed as a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and sometimes appeared in uniform. Because of his support, he was made an honorary commodore in the Auxiliary. Bridges' sons, actors Beau and Jeff, also served in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve.
Bridges had some support roles in independent films, A Walk in the Sun (1945), and Abilene Town (1946). He was in Paramount's Miss Susie Slagle's (1946) and Walter Wanger's Canyon Passage (1947). In 1947 he appeared in a small role in Cecil B. DeMille's film Unconquered.
He returned to lead roles with Secret Service Investigator (1948) at Republic Pictures, and 16 Fathoms Deep (1948) for Monogram Pictures. Bridges had a support role in Moonrise (1948) then was the lead in Hideout (1949) for Republic.
Bridges was in a Western at Universal directed by George Sherman, Red Canyon (1949), and a short at MGM, Mr. Whitney Had a Notion (1949). He had a good role in Home of the Brave (1949). At Universal he was Howard Duff's friend in Calamity Jane and Sam Bass (1949), again for Sherman.
Bridges had the star role in Trapped (1949) directed by Richard Fleischer for Eagle Lion and Rocketship X-M (1950) for Lippert Pictures. He had supporting roles in Colt .45 (1951), The White Tower (1951), and The Sound of Fury (1950) (directed by Cy Endfield).
Bridges was blacklisted briefly in the 1950s after he admitted to the House Un-American Activities Committee that he had once been a member of the Actors' Laboratory Theatre, a group found to have had links to the Communist party. He returned to acting after recanting his membership and serving as a cooperative witness, achieving his greatest success in television.
Bridges made his TV debut in 1951 with "Man's First Debt" in The Bigelow Theatre. He had starring roles in the films The Fighting Seventh (1951), Three Steps North (1951), and Richer Than the Earth (1951).
On TV he did "Rise Up and Walk" for Robert Montgomery Presents (1952) and "International Incident" for Studio One in Hollywood (1952) (the latter directed by Franklin J. Schaffner). Bridges had a supporting role in High Noon (1952).
Bridges guest starred on Suspense ("Her Last Adventure") and Schlitz Playhouse ("This Plane for Hire"), and had support roles in Plymouth Adventure (1952) and The Sabre and the Arrow (1953). Bridges returned to leads in The Tall Texan (1953) for Lippert Pictures.
Bridges was in "The Long Way Home" for Goodyear Playhouse (1953), and did The Kid from Left Field (1953) and City of Bad Men (1953) for Fox. He travelled to the UK to star in The Limping Man (1953) for Cy Endfield.
Bridges returned to Broadway in Dead Pigeon (1953-54), which had a short run.
On TV Bridges performed in "Broadway Trust" for Crossroads (1955), "The Dark Fleece" and "Edge of Terror" for Climax! (1955) (the latter directed by John Frankenheimer), "The Ainsley Case" for Front Row Center (1956), "Across the Dust" and "Prairie Dog Court" for Chevron Hall of Stars (1956), and "The Silent Gun" and "American Primitive" for Studio One in Hollywood (1956). He had the lead in the low budget Wetbacks (1956) and a support role in The Rainmaker (1956).
Bridges gained attention in 1956 for his emotional performance on the live anthology program The Alcoa Hour, in an episode titled "Tragedy in a Temporary Town", written by Reginald Rose and directed by Sidney Lumet. During the performance, Bridges inadvertently used profanity while ad-libbing. Although the slip of the tongue generated hundreds of complaints, the episode won a Robert E. Sherwood Television Award, with Bridges' slip being defended even by some members of the clergy. Bridges received an Emmy Award nomination for the role.
Bridges did "The Regulators" for Studio 57 (1956), "They Never Forget" for The United States Steel Hour (1957), "Ride the Wild Mare" for The Alcoa Hour (1957), "Man on the Outside" for Studio 57 (1957), "The Sound of Silence", "Figures in Clay" and "The Disappearance of Amanda Hale" for Climax!, "Heritage of Anger" (1956) and "Clash by Night" (1957) for Playhouse 90, the latter with Kim Stanley. Bridges also made several episodes of Zane Grey Theatre including "Time of Decision" (1957) and "Wire" (1958).
He supported Rory Calhoun in Ride Out for Revenge (1957) and did "A Time to Cry" on The Frank Sinatra Show (1958) and had one of his best ever cinema roles in The Goddess (1958) based on a script by Paddy Chayefsky based on the life of Marilyn Monroe; Bridges played a sportsman based on Joe di Maggio opposite Kim Stanley. He directed "Piano to Thunder Springs" for Target (1958).
Bridges gained wide recognition as Mike Nelson, the main character in the television series Sea Hunt, created by Ivan Tors, which ran in syndication from 1958-1961. He also wrote a book with a co-author about skin-diving entitled Mask and Flippers.
Bridges did "Lepke" (1959) for Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse (1960), "Ransom" (1960) (directed by Budd Boetticher) and "Image of a Drawn Sword" (1961) for Zane Grey Theatre. He did a TV movie The Valley of Decision (1960), "Death of the Temple Bay" for The DuPont Show with June Allyson (1961), "Who Killed Julie Greer?" (1961) for The Dick Powell Theatre, "The Fortress" (1961) for Alcoa Premiere (with Fred Astaire, and "The Two of Us" (1962) for Checkmate. He also did a special Marineland Carnival (1962).
Bridges followed it with "A Hero for Our Times" for Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963), "Wild Bill Hickok - the Legend and the Man" for The Great Adventure (1964), "Cannibal Plants, They Eat You Alive" for The Eleventh Hour (1964) and "Exit from a Plane in Flight" for Theater of Stars (1965).
Producer Gene Roddenberry, who worked with Bridges on Sea Hunt, reportedly offered Bridges the role of Captain Kirk on Star Trek before the part went to William Shatner. In addition, he was a regular cast member in the Rod Serling western series The Loner (which lasted one season from 1965 to 1966; Bridges pulled out in disagreement over the violent content of the show).
Bridges returned to Broadway as a replacement for the lead in Cactus Flower (1967).
Bridges was in heavy demand for TV movies such as The Love War (1970), Lost Flight (1970), Do You Take This Stranger? (1971), A Tattered Web (1971), and The Deadly Dream (1971). He starred in a short lived series San Francisco International Airport (1970/71) and had a support role in a feature, To Find a Man (1972).
Bridges had a (then) rare comedy role on Here's Lucy with "Lucy's Big Break" (1972). He continued in TV movies: Haunts of the Very Rich (1972), Trouble Comes to Town (1973), Crime Club (1973), Running Wild (1973), Death Race (1973), The Whirlwind (1974, with son Beau), and Stowaway to the Moon (1975).
Bridges played significant roles in several mini-series, including Roots, and How the West Was Won. He returned to TV movies: The Force of Evil (1978), Telethon (1978), The Great Wallendas (1978) and The Critical List (1978).
Bridges had a notable guest part in "The Living Legend" for Battlestar Galactica (1978) and went to Australia to make Shimmering Light (1978) with Beau. He had a support part in The Fifth Musketeer (1979) starring Beau and was in Disaster on the Coastliner (1979), Bear Island (1979) and This Year's Blonde (1980) (as Johnny Hyde)
Bridges had his biggest film hit in a long time in Airplane! (1980), a spoof of disaster films. He appeared in a number of mini series such as East of Eden (1981), The Blue and the Gray (1982) and George Washington (1984). He guest starred on shows such as The Love Boat (1981), Loving (1983), and Matt Houston (1983) and continued to make TV movies like Life of the Party: The Story of Beatrice (1982), Grace Kelly (1983) and Grandpa, Will You Run with Me? (1983).
Bridges reprised his Airplane! role in Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
He was in Weekend Warriors (1986), The Thanksgiving Promise (1986) for Disney, and The Wild Pair (1987) starring and directed by Beau. Bridges appeared with Jeff in Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1987) and was in She Was Marked for Murder (1988), for TV.
Bridges starred in a short-lived series, Capital News (1990), for ABC. In 1990, he had a supporting role in Joe Versus the Volcano, and portrayed Harry Helmsley in the made-for-television movie, Leona Helmsley: The Queen of Mean.
Bridges was in Shining Time Station: 'Tis a Gift (1990) then reprised his comedy career with a supporting role in Hot Shots! (1991). He starred in a TV movie In the Nick of Time (1992) and was in Honey I Blew Up the Kid (1992), Devlin (1992), and Mr. Bluesman (1993) before reprising his old role in Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993).
Bridges supported son Jeff in a big budget action film Blown Away (1994). He did "Sandkings" (1995) for The Outer Limits (1995) with Beau, The Other Woman (1995), Nothing Lasts Forever (1995), and The Deliverance of Elaine (1996) and did voice work on Peter and the Wolf (1995). He had a semi-regular part on Second Noah (1996).
Bridges also guest starred on Ned and Stacey.
Bridges met his wife, Dorothy Bridges (née Simpson), in his fraternity; they married in 1938 in New York City. They had four children: actors Beau Bridges (born in 1941) and Jeff Bridges (born in 1949); a daughter, Lucinda Louise Bridges (born in October 1953); and another son, Garrett Myles Bridges, who died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome on August 3, 1948. Actor Jordan Bridges is Beau's son and Lloyd's grandson. Dorothy and Lloyd exchanged vows again for their 50th wedding anniversary.
A world federalist, Bridges once said, "The devastation caused by war and the pollution of our environment knows no boundaries. Only an effective world government could provide sufficient law and have the power to control these destructive forces." He was also involved in several organizations, including the American Oceans Campaign and Heal the Bay, a Los Angeles-based group.
On March 10, 1998, Bridges died of natural causes at the age of 85.
An episode ("The Burning") in the final Seinfeld season (1998) was dedicated to the memory of Lloyd Bridges. He had played the character of Izzy Mandelbaum in the episodes "The English Patient" in 1997 and "The Blood" later the same year.
Bridges' last film, Jane Austen's Mafia!, which came out the year of his death, bears a dedication to him.
In 2011 Bridges was posthumously named as one of six recipients - two of whom are his sons Beau and Jeff - of the Lone Sailor Award, which honors former Coast Guard servicemen who have gone on to forge successful careers as civilians.