Thursday, February 9, 2017

Seven Things to Know About Lloyd Bridges

1. Although Lloyd Bridges first appeared in films in 1936, he didn't make a major impact until High Noon in 1952. He played a key supporting role as deputy Harvey Pell, who refuses to stand with Gary Cooper's heroic lawman against the Miller Gang. He resigns because the recently-married Coop won't support him as the new marshal.

2. Bridges fared better on television, especially after delivering a riveting performance in "Tragedy in a Temporary Town" on The Alcoa Hour. Sidney Lumet directed this 1956 live drama about a community seeking "justice" against a Puerto Rican worker accused of assaulting a teenage girl. During his climatic speech on mob violence, Bridges became so emotionally invested in his role that he ad-libbed a four-letter word--marking one of the first uses of profanity on broadcast television. His performance earned him the first of two Emmy nominations (the other was for a guest star appearance on Seinfeld).

3. Lloyd Bridges' career was briefly derailed in the early 1950s when he was blacklisted for his earlier involvement with the Actors Lab, a theater group with alleged Communist Party ties. He quickly cleared his name with the FBI.

Strapping on his gear in Sea Hunt.
4. He shot to TV fame playing scuba diver Mike Nelson in the half-hour 1958-61 series Sea Hunt. Ironically, though he was an avid swimmer, Bridges had never scuba dived and had to learn how for the show. By the way, all three major TV networks passed on Sea Hunt, so Ivan Tors syndicated it--and turned it into a major hit.

5. Bridges appeared in numerous subsequent TV series, to include: The Lloyd Bridges Show, a 1962-63 anthology series; Rod Serling's offbeat Western The Loner (1965-66); San Francisco International Airport (1970-71); Joe Forrester (1975-76), in which he played a street cop; and Harts of the West with son Beau Bridges (1993-94). According to several Star Trek books, he turned down the role of Captain James T. Kirk.

With sons Beau (r) and Jeff (l).
6. Lloyd acted opposite his sons Beau and Jeff on several occasions. Both sons guest starred on Sea Hunt, The Lloyd Bridges Show, and The Loner. Lloyd appeared uncredited in Francis Ford Coppola's Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), which starred Jeff Bridges in the title role. Lloyd also had a daughter. Lucinda, during his 60-year marriage to wife Dorothy. A fourth child, Garrett, died of sudden infant death syndrome.

Looking unhinged in Airplane II.
7. Lloyd Bridges' acting career got an unexpected boost when he appeared as a scary, glue-sniffing airport tower supervisor in the wacky comedy Airplane!. He subsequently appeared in other big screen comedies such as Airplane II: The Sequel, both of the Hot Shots! movies, and Jane Austen's Mafia (his final film, which was released after his death in 1998). My favorite of his later roles, though, has him playing Ted Danson's life-loving father in the warm comedy-drama Cousins (1989).

13 comments:

  1. The recent Star Trek history, 50 year Mission, confirms he was offered Capt Kirk. Turned it down, but told Roddenberry he admired his work - maybe from Have Gun Will Travel..But scifi was still kids' stuff up til then

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  2. I love that wacky side Bridges tapped into for those late life comedies.

    A long life and career that shows just how strange and wonderful and full of ups and downs, both life and careers can be.

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  3. Nice post about the work of a fine actor, and I love that you mentioned his role in Cousins; I like that film. :)

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    1. I rarely prefer remakes to the originals, but that's one film where I do.

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  4. I loved him in TV's Seinfeld when he kept referring to Jerry as "Daffodil".

    I just watched him "The Love War", in preparation for the Movie of the Week Blogathon. I was expecting to lambaste this movie, but I quite liked it – especially Lloyd Bridges' performance.

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  5. I really picked a bad week to give up sniffing glue.

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  6. I actually saw that Alcoa Hour, Rick (but I'd always remembered it as a Playhouse 90 show) and remember being SHOCKED in a giggly way when I heard that certain word on national television. I was a kid then and easily shocked. :) I do remember Lloyd Bridges face when he uttered the word and I always thought he looked shocked as well.

    I was a big fan of SEA HUNT as well and never missed an episode. Thanks for this post!

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    1. That would have been awesome to see live! I had never heard of the incident until Sidney Lumet mentioned in a recent documentary,

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    2. It happened. I was there. :) In fact, if you hadn't mentioned it, I would have.

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  7. He had a nice supporting role in "Canyon Passage", fairly important to the overall plot. That was made in 1946.

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    1. And THE SOUND OF FURY is another good early film featuring him in a major role.

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  8. Trivia: Lloyd Bridges helped to popularize Rolex watches, as he always wore one on "Sea Hunt." Jeff Bridges wears his father's watch in many of his movies.

    For some reason, I remember him most playing an ex-Nazi army officer in "The White Tower" (1950). I thought he had great comedic chops that got to be showcased later in his career.

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  9. Very informative post about a fine actor. I especially enjoyed his work on "The Loner."

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