Remembering Lloyd Bridges, born January 15, 1913 and passed away on March 10, 1998.
Lloyd Vernet Bridges, Jr. was an American actor who starred in a number of television series and appeared in more than 150 feature films. He was the father of actors Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges.
Bridges made his Broadway debut in 1939 in a production of Shakespeare’s Othello. In 1941, he joined the stock company at Columbia Pictures, where he played small roles in features and short subjects. (In Here Comes Mr. Jordan Bridges is the pilot of the plane in the “heaven” scene.)
He left Columbia Pictures to enlist in the U.S. Coast Guard. Following World War II, he returned to film acting. He was later a member of U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, 11th District (California) and did a number of public service announcements for the Coast Guard. He was later appointed an honorary commodore. His sons, actors Beau and Jeff, served in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve.
He 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 with links to the Communist party. He resumed working after being cleared by the FBI, finding his greatest success in television.
Bridges garnered press in 1956 for his emotional performance on live anthology program The Alcoa Hour, in an episode titled “Tragedy in a Temporary Town”, 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’s slip being defended even by some members of the clergy. Bridges received an Emmy Award nomination for the role.
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. Following that success, he starred in the eponymous CBS anthology series The Lloyd Bridges Show (1962–1963, produced by Aaron Spelling), which included appearances by his sons Beau and Jeff.
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), and in the two NBC failures San Francisco International Airport (1970/71) and a Police Story spin-off Joe Forrester (1975–76). Later, he appeared in Paper Dolls (1984) and Capital News (1990), both for ABC, and again with Harts of the West (1993–1994), this time for CBS, a comedy/western set on a dude ranch in Nevada. Son Beau Bridges co-starred, along with Harley Jane Kozak as Beau’s wife, Alison Hart, and Sean Murray as the oldest Hart son, Zane Grey Hart.
Bridges played significant roles in several mini-series, including Roots, How the West Was Won and The Blue and the Gray.
For more than forty-five years, Bridges was a frequent guest star on television series. He received a second Emmy Award nomination four decades after the first when he was nominated in 1998 for his role as Izzy Mandelbaum on Seinfeld.
He portrayed Commander Cain in the original Battlestar Galactica television series, in the two-part episode The Living Legend. His fate was left unanswered, spurring fans to call for his return. This popularity led to a radically re-imagined Cain character in the 2004 series.
He started as a contract performer for Columbia Pictures, appearing in classics such as A Walk In The Sun, High Noon, Little Big Horn, and Sahara. By the end of his career, he had re-invented himself and demonstrated a gifted comedic talent in such parody films as Airplane!, Hot Shots!, and Jane Austen’s Mafia!. He acted in the role of “The President” in the movie Hot Shots! Part Deux.
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