Aug 23, 2013

Sea Hunt

You may remember Lloyd Bridges as the feisty octogenarian personal trainer Izzy Mandelbaum on Seinfeld, (1998), or airport supervisor Steve McCroskey in Airplane (1980).   Or for his roles in Blown Away, Hot Shots, Weekend Warriors, East of Eden, The Fifth Musketeer, How the West was Won, Roots, and 200 other movies and tv series.  But for the first generation of Boomer kids, he was Mike Nelson on Sea Hunt.

Produced by Ivan Tors, who also gave us the beefcake-heavy Flipper, Sea Hunt (1958) was about a scuba diver who traveled around, fighting Cooperstowne, rescuing people, exploring underwater caves, and instructing the public on diving safety.

Lloyd Bridges was an unlikely star, in his 40s with no previous scuba diving experience, and currently being subjected to Hollywood blacklisting for his participation in the Actors Lab, an alleged communist organization.  But the veteran of 20 years of action-adventure movies rose to the role, took scuba diving lessons, and ended up doing most of his own stunt work.

And all of his shirtless and semi-nude shots, displaying a massive chest on screen, in magazines, and in a long-running comic book series.

Going against the tradition of 1960s detective-adventure boyfriends (Hawaiian Eye, 77 Sunset Strip), Mike Nelson usually worked alone, but occasionally he had a buddy to dive with, and he rescued men as often as women.  Many future stars appeared on the show, including Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek), Larry Hagman (I Dream of Jeannie), and Lloyd's sons, Beau and Jeff (left).

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