As the star of the country’s most successful syndicated television show Sea Hunt (1957-1961), Bridges introduced scuba diving to millions of viewers across America.
The tall, craggy-faced, blond actor enjoyed amazing resiliency throughout his career, even surviving the film industry’s political blacklist. He also spawned a new generation of actors.
Sons Beau and Jeff, who started acting as youngsters on “Sea Hunt,” became stars in their own right. Bridges trained as a classical actor, but he soon learned to be more versatile.
In 1957, Bridges took the role that changed his career: as Mike Nelson, a Navy frogman turned undersea investigator in “Sea Hunt.” The networks turned down the series as being too limited in scope, so producer Ivan Tors offered it in syndication. Soon it drew bigger ratings than the network shows and it lasted through 156 episodes. “The series certainly brought me more notice than anything I have ever done before as an actor,” he said in a 1959 interview. “It has also brought me more money than anything else in my career.
Lloyd Bridges, who survived a 1950s government blacklisting to build a five-decade acting career died at 85.