Working from the ground up in stock companies, Lloyd Bridges was a member of the progressive Actors Lab company in the mid 1930s. He made his Broadway debut toward the end of that decade in a production of Othello. Signed by Columbia in 1941, Bridges appeared in everything the studio assigned him, from Three Stooges 2-reel comedies to such "A" pictures as Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941), Talk of the Town (1942), and Sahara (1943). He began freelancing in 1945, accepting the prescient role of a deep-sea diver in 1948's 16 Fathoms Deep, among other films. The most memorable of his '50s assignments was the leading role in the cult science-fiction programmer Rocketship X-M (1950) and the part of the look-out-for-number-one deputy in High Noon (1952).
Thanks to his earlier involvement in the Actors Lab and his admission at the HUAC hearings that he'd once flirted with communism, Bridges was "graylisted" during the mid-'50s, able to find work only in lesser pictures and TV shows. He was rescued by producer Ivan Tors, who cast Bridges as diver-for-hire Mike Nelson in the TV series Sea Hunt. Filmed between 1957 and 1961, Sea Hunt was the most popular syndicated program of the era, turning Bridges into a millionaire. Alas, neither of his subsequent series of the '60s, The Lloyd Bridges Show (1962) and The Loner (1965), survived their first seasons. Undaunted, Bridges continued working into the '90s, displaying a hitherto untapped flair for zany comedy in such films as Airplane! (1980), Joe vs. the Volcano (1990), and the two Hot Shots films. Bridges was the father of actors Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges. A committed environmentalist, he was involved in several organizations including the American Oceans Campaign and Heal the Bay, a Los Angeles-based group. Bridges died of natural causes on March 10, 1998. Shortly before his passing, he had completed work on two films, Jane Austen's Mafia and Meeting Daddy; in the latter film, Bridges co-starred with his eldest son Beau.