Raising children in Hollywood can be difficult. But not only did actor Lloyd Bridges manage to raise two sons who followed in his footsteps as actors -- Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges, he, along with his wife Dorothy, managed to raise children that had solid family values they maintain to this day.
Growing up with two parents in the business definitely came with its perks. Jeff was only two years old when he appeared in his mother Dorothy Simpson's film The Company She Keeps. Lloyd Bridges was well known for starring as Mike Nelson on the TV show Sea Hunt which both Jeff and Beau appeared on. According to Jeff, watching their father in action was part of what made him want to act.
"I had a lot of different interests," Jeff told NPR. "I wanted to get into music and painting. ... And my father said, 'Oh Jeff, don't be ridiculous. That's the wonderful thing about acting is you get to incorporate all of your interests in your parts.' That joy that he brought with him into the set was kind of contagious, and it would spread through the company. He really wanted all his kids to go into acting, because he loved it so much."
Lloyd Vernet Bridges Jr was born in San Leandro, California, and attended UCLA, which would also be Beau's alma mater, where he would play basketball. Lloyd got his start in the theater but earned a gig working with Columbia Pictures, for which he'd play bit parts in various films. During World War II, he took a hiatus from acting to serve in the United States Coast Guard. Not only would both of his sons follow in his footsteps in Hollywood, but they also both served in the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Reserve.
After returning to acting, Lloyd started getting lead roles in films like Rocketship X-M, Sahara, A Walk in the Sun, and Little Big Horn. Beau explained to Men's Journal that as a child his father would take him to sets and he'd get to watch some pretty incredible things.
"He used to take me along on movie shoots sometimes. When I was 6, I went to the set of High Noon, in Sonora. I was up in a hayloft watching the classic western fight between my dad and Gary Cooper."
Jeff told AARP that due to his father's busy schedule he wasn't home very often, but his mother Dorothy "was kind of a spectacular mom." She would dedicate a full hour a day to each of her children in an effort to foster their creativity. Considering her two boys went on to become major stars and daughter Lucinda became a painter, seems like she did her job. But also importantly, whenever they spent time with Lloyd on his sets, he would teach his boys the importance of professionalism and kindness towards other people.
"This director was taking out his frustration on an assistant," reflected Jeff. "My dad went up to him and said, 'Frank, I'm going to be in my trailer. When you apologize to this young person that you've embarrassed, you can find me.' "
Later in life, Lloyd appeared in a series of hilarious parody films, changing his tune to be a comedic actor -- Airplane!, Airplane II: The Sequel, Hot Shots!, and Jane Austen's Mafia!. Over the years he appeared in countless films -- Blown Away, Home of the Brave, Abilene Town, Attack on the Iron Coast, Bear Island, Blondie Goes to College, Calamity Jane and Sam Bass, Canyon Passage, and Meeting Daddy. He also appeared on numerous television series -- The Alcoa Hour, Joe Forrester in Police Story, Paper Dolls, Seinfeld (which earned him an Emmy Award nomination), The Loner, Battlestar Galactica, Capital News, Harts of the West, How the West Was Won, and TV film Silent Night, Lonely Night. He even had his own TV series on CBS, The Lloyd Bridges Show.
There were times when Beau, 8 years older than Jeff, explained that he stood in as a father while Lloyd, who passed away from natural causes in 1998, was away filming.
"There's an eight-year difference between me and Jeff. My dad traveled a lot, and when he was gone, I would take over some of the fatherly stuff with Jeff--teaching him how to throw a baseball, how to do all kinds of stuff. So whenever anyone asks me about sibling rivalry, my answer is, "No, it doesn't bother me because I taught him everything he knows."
Even Beau's son, Jordan Bridges, went into the family business. He's recognizable for his main role in the TV show Rizzoli & Isles. He told Cy Interview that not only has he received professional advice from his father and uncle over the years, but important life lessons as well.
"The Dude has taught me more about life really and kind of surviving as a creative person more than kind of the ins and outs of the business. He's really given me amazing guidance just as a person. He's taught me that, he emphasizes the process over the product generally. If I were to kind of simplify and crystallize what I've learned from him, I think that's a big part of his, you know, maybe his philosophy in life...That's certainly what I've got from him is that you throw yourself into the work and you don't worry about the results or whether or not it's going to be a hit or whether or not people will love it or whether or not it's gonna lead to other things...
"My primary teacher was definitely my father [Beau Bridges] in all things, but Jeff, I admire him as a father and as a husband. I mean, you know, it's a rare thing in this town and in this business to see a marriage that sustained so long as theirs has and is so rich and that's something that really inspires me as a husband and a father. I really admire both him and my aunt Sue. I think it's amazing what they've accomplished."
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