Lloyd Bridges, whose half-century in acting ranged from the drama of "High Noon" to the adventure of TV's "Sea Hunt" to the daft "Airplane!", died Tuesday. He was 85.
Bridges died at his Los Angeles home of natural causes with wife Dorothy, actor-son Beau and daughter Cindy at his side, said Ame Van Iden, a publicist for Beau and Jeff Bridges. She did not elaborate on the cause of death.Although the elder Bridges had suffered from minor illnesses on and off during the past year, he continued to work and recently completed two feature films, "Jane Austen's Mafia" and "Meeting Daddy," the latter with his son, Beau.
"If dad could speak to those people who are thinking about him right now, he would want you to all think about family," Beau Bridges said outside his father's home. "I think that was probably the most important thing to him. That's what we remember about him."
The tall, craggy-faced blond actor enjoyed amazing resiliency throughout his career, even surviving the film industry's political blacklist.
Bridges trained as a classical actor, but he soon learned to be more versatile. He played every kind of role in 25 B movies, starred on Broadway, worked in seven television series, even appeared in musical comedy. In his late years he was rediscovered as a comic actor, often spoofing his own stalwart image.
Bridges' film career began in 1941 when he was placed under contract at Columbia and made his debut in "The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance." A string of potboilers followed, and he even appeared in a Three Stooges short, "They Stooge to Conga." His only major films were the fantasy "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" and "Sahara," starring Humphrey Bogart.
His career improved after he left Columbia. He appeared in "A Walk in the Sun," "Abilene Town" and "Ramrod." His big break came with the controversial "Home of the Brave," which attacked racial prejudice in the military. Bridge's performance as a sympathetic member of a platoon torn by racial strife won critical acclaim.
Bridges played Gary Cooper's vengeful deputy in "High Noon." Other important roles followed until he was caught in Hollywood's Red purge.
During the 1940s, Bridges had been a member of the Actors' Lab, a radical theater group that staged plays in Hollywood. At the height of McCarthyism in the 1950s, his name was added to the industry's blacklist.