Your Shopping Cart | Your Account Information | Catalog Quick Order | Customer Service | Order Status | Contact Us


AboutBlogOur Radio Show SEARCH   KEYWORD

Happy Birthday, Lloyd Bridges!

The classic TV favorite Sea Hunt could facetiously–-but truthfully–-be described as “the one that got away.” Every one of the major television networks took a pass on the proposed series from producer Ivan Tors, rationalizing that its premise–-an ex-Navy frogman now working as a freelance undersea investigator–-was too limited for a weekly program. Tors got the last laugh (and made a small mint) when he decided to offer up the series for syndication, where it became a monster hit. The star of that show was born Lloyd Vernet Bridges Jr. in Leandro, California on this date in 1913…and though Lloyd Bridges was already well-known for his work in motion pictures and on stage, Sea Hunt was his ticket to TV immortality.

Lloyd Bridges’ parents were Kansas natives, with his father Lloyd, Sr. involved in the hotel business in California and also owner of a movie theatre at one time. Lloyd, Jr. graduated from Petaluma High School in 1930 and went on to UCLA to major in political science. Yet Bridges was also bitten by the acting bug and in 1937 made his Broadway debut as part of the Ensemble in a production of Othello, which starred Walter Huston and Brian Aherne. Lloyd also had small uncredited roles in a pair of movies at this time, Freshman Love (1935) and Dancing Feet (1936).

Lloyd Bridges’ big break came when he became a contractee at Columbia Pictures at $75 a week, with his first credited film being 1941’s The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance. Despite steady work in films (Blondie Goes to CollegeThe Crime Doctor’s Strangest Case) and short subjects (Bridges can be seen fleetingly in the 1943 Three Stooges comedy They Stooge to Conga as well as two-reelers starring The Glove Slingers and El Brendel), the actor described his stint at the studio as “tough sledding.” “All the best roles went to Glenn Ford and William Holden,” Lloyd reminisced in later years. “They just put me in these awful B-pictures, like Two Latins from Manhattan.” On occasion, Bridges would get a nice meaty part such as that in the 1943 war film Sahara, which starred Humphrey Bogart. Lloyd left Columbia during World War II to enlist in the Coast Guard; after being discharged, he became a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and later did public service announcements for the organization as well.

Returning to acting, Lloyd Bridges had better luck outside Columbia, appearing in independent films like A Walk in the Sun (1945) and starring in the Universal cliffhanger serial Secret Agent X-9 (1945). His film work continued with such vehicles as Abilene Town (1946), Canyon Passage (1946), and Unconquered (1947), and Lloyd was the lead in several films at Republic Studios including Secret Service Investigator (1948) and Hideout (1949). Bridges had a nice showcase in 1949’s Home of the Brave, but one of his truly memorable onscreen roles was portraying a psychopath opposite old-time radio veteran Frank Lovejoy in an underrated noir, The Sound of Fury (1950; a.k.a. Try and Get Me!).

Lloyd Bridges’ career hit a momentary speed bump 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 (HUAC declared the Theatre had links to the Communist Party). The actor recanted his membership and became a cooperative witness. Interestingly enough, Bridges also had a substantial supporting role in High Noon (1952), in which he played callow deputy Harvey Pell. Although Lloyd would continue to work in high-profile movies like The Rainmaker (1956) and The Goddess (1958; one of his best), he was starting to become increasingly a presence on the small screen on such dramatic anthologies as Studio OneClimax!, and Playhouse 90. (Lloyd made an unforgettable appearance on a 1956 telecast of The Alcoa Hour, “Tragedy in a Temporary Town.” In ad-libbing, the actor let loose with some mild profanity that may have generated viewer complaints…but garnered him an Emmy nomination.)

Then came Sea Hunt, which was a hit in syndication for four years (a total of 156 episodes). It would not be Lloyd Bridges’ only television series; he later starred in The Lloyd Bridges Show (1962-63), a CBS anthology series that occasionally featured his actor sons Beau and Jeff, and The Loner (1965-66), a western for the Tiffany network that was created and written by The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling (it only lasted a season despite positive reviews). Bridges later headlined San Francisco International Airport in 1970-71 and had another critical yet short-lived success with Joe Forrester (1975-76), in which he played a veteran cop-on-the-beat (he originated the character on an episode of Police Story). Bridges was a cast member of the short-lived series Paper Dolls in 1984, Capital News in 1990, and Harts of the West in 1993-94 (starring his son Beau).

Although Lloyd Bridges appeared in many TV movies in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, one film provided him with an opportunity to reinvent himself as a comic actor: Airplane! (1980). Airplane! was a spoof of disaster films, and featured Bridges as dedicated airport tower supervisor Steve McCroskey (“Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit drinking…”), parodying his strait-laced, no-nonsense image along with actors of a similar stripe including Leslie Nielsen and Robert Stack. Airplane! led to Bridges being cast as the stupefyingly dense Admiral “Tug” Benson in both Hot Shots! (1991) and Hot Shots! Part Deux (1993–-Benson was now a Ronald Reagan-like President) and he later appeared in Jane Austen’s Mafia! (1998) from the same creators (in one of his final film roles). Lloyd would get one more Emmy nomination before his passing in 1998 at the age of 85: for an appearance in the Seinfeld episode, “The Blood” (as fitness nut Izzy Mandelbaum).

Lloyd Bridges occasionally worked in the aural medium on such shows as Arch Oboler’s Plays, Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood, Stagestruck, and Suspense. Still, we at Radio Spirits like to remember today’s birthday boy for his voluminous contributions to the silver screen…and you’ll find one of those classic movies, The Limping Man (1953), available on the DVD set Dark Film Mysteries III. Happy birthday, Lloyd!


  1. Michael says:

    In the 70s, Bridges also did a syndicated documentary series called “Lloyd Bridges’Water World”, which I loved as a boy. As far as I know, it has never come out on DVD. I wish it did.

  2. Harold says:

    He was Commander Cain in the original Battlestar Galatica “TheLiving Legend”

Leave a Reply