Lloyd Bridges

Follow

Biography

EDIT

Born

1/15/1913 , San Leandro, California

Died

3/10/1998

Birth Name

Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Jr.

Gender

Male

Biography:

Lloyd Bridges was born on January 15, 1913, in San Leandro, California. When he took up acting while studying at UCLA, lovely classmate Dorothy Dean appeared opposite him in the romantic play "March Hares." In spite of such distractions, Lloyd got his Bachelor of Arts degree from U.C. Berkeley in 1936. He married Dorothy Dean in 1938, and they stayed married until his death 60 years later. (How many Hollywood marriages last that long? How many marriages period, when half of them end in divorce?) A wonderful family man, he and Dorothy had 4 children: Beau in 1941, Gary in 1947, Jeff in 1949, and Cindy in 1954. The family has had its share of ups and downs - Little Gary tragically died of sudden infant death syndrome, but Beau and Jeff went on to become very successful actors, like their dad.


Lloyd acted in live theatre, touring with stock companies. He was a member of the Actors Lab company from the mid-1930s. Around 1939, Lloyd made his Broadway debut in "Othello." Around 1941, he began appearing in a string of movies, mainly uncredited, such as "The Son of Davy Crockett" (1941) and "Alias Boston Blackie" (1942). Later, he not only played main characters, but even played the title character in "Secret Agent X-9" (1945). As a sign that his career was on the way up, Lloyd appeared in "Unconquered" (1947) with big-name stars like Gary Cooper, Paulette Goddard and Boris Karloff. Lloyd would continue to star in popular B-movies like the science fiction adventure "Rocketship X-M" (1950), about a rocket to the moon (which would become reality only 19 years later).


The liberal Actors Lab, of which Lloyd was a member, was just one of the many targets for ultra-conservative Senator Joseph McCarthy and his House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). During the 1950s, thousands of people were investigated, many of them working in the Hollywood film industry. For many of the people, their only "crime" was refusing to name other people for the HUAC to investigate. During this time, a staggering 324 Hollywood actors, writers, producers and directors were blacklisted; the vast majority were innocent of any wrongdoing. Many other actors were gray-listed, among them was Lloyd Bridges. Like so many other actors who had their careers interrupted, if not outright ruined, Lloyd was bravely determined to continue on with his work after the HUAC investigation. The test of time has proven that Lloyd and the other actors were the heroes, their belief in Freedom of Speech won them the love of every fan in the country. And the so-called Americans who ran the HUAC trials have been compared to those who ran the Witch Hunts of the old days.


In 1957, Lloyd made the transition from live theatre and movies into the new medium of television, like many other fine actors such as Albert Salmi, Dean Martin, James Gregory, to name but a few. Producer Ivan Tors cast Lloyd Bridges as diver Mike Nelson in the TV series "Sea Hunt." Ironically, the major networks all turned down the series, saying it was too limited in scope. Ivan Tors got Fred Ziv to handle syndication of the series-- Ziv had distributed earlier action shows like "The Cisco Kid" and the TV series "Boston Blackie." Filmed between 1957 and 1961, "Sea Hunt" was the most successful syndicated program of the era. In fact it soon got higher ratings than most network shows--it lasted for 4 years and 155 episodes, and turned Lloyd into a millionaire. Lloyd was 44-48 years old during that time. At an age when most men, even most athletes, slow down a bit, Lloyd was doing many of his own stunts. "Sea Hunt" was wildly popular with the kids. Not since Disney had broadcast the TV shows "Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier," which got millions of kids to start wearing raccoon caps, had a TV show so caught the kids' imaginations. Kids by the millions were going to their local swimming pools--wearing fins, face masks and snorkels, just like their hero Mike Nelson.


In real life, Lloyd was also a dedicated environmentalist: he worked with several organizations, such as American Oceans Campaign, to help marine life and fish habitats.


Lloyd would continue to appear on TV, in programs like "The Lloyd Bridges Show" (1962) and the TV series "San Francisco International Airport" (1970), and he had the title role of the police officer in the TV series "Joe Forrester" (1975). He then showed a real flair for comedy by starring in zany movies, such as "Airplane" (1980) and "Airplane II, the Sequel" (1982), and "Hot Shots" (1991). Lloyd's last movie was a comedy, "Meeting Daddy" (1998) co-starring his son Beau.


Lloyd died peacefully in his sleep on March 10, 1998, in Los Angeles. He had lived 85 years--a long and full life--and he left wonderful memories for his countless fans.

--April Nyree Dawn and Jessica Wells