Dorothy Bridges dies at 93; ‘the hub’ of an acting family

Dorothy and Lloyd Bridges in 1980. Son Jeff said his mother used to play “pretend” with her children, which he said “is basically the basis of acting.”
(Associated Press)

Dorothy Bridges, the widow of actor Lloyd Bridges and the mother of actors Beau and Jeff, has died. She was 93.

Bridges died Monday of age-related causes at home in Holmby Hills, where she and her late husband raised their two sons and their artist daughter, Lucinda, her family announced.

An occasional actress who appeared in several film and television productions with family members, Bridges was married for 59 years to Lloyd, who gained fame in the late 1950s as the star of the TV series “Sea Hunt” and later had roles in the movie comedies “Airplane!” and “Hot Shots!” He died in 1998.

Throughout their long marriage, Dorothy Bridges wrote poems and celebrated each Valentine’s Day with a love poem to her husband.

In 2005, at age 89, she collected them in the book “You Caught Me Kissing: A Love Story,” which chronicled their life together, with accompanying family photos and commentary by her and her children.

“She was the hub” of the family, Jeff Bridges told The Times on Friday. “My dad was sort of the front man: He was out there getting public attention. But my mom was behind the scenes, sort of holding the whole thing together, and she did that with her own particular brand of verve.”

She also was her children’s first drama teacher.

“She was such a creative person and inspired us all to be creative,” said Jeff, recalling that while he and his brother and sister were growing up, their mother devoted an hour a day to each of them to do whatever each child wanted to do -- from “making each other up like clowns” to “playing spaceships.”

“During those times, we got to play ‘pretend’ with mom, which is basically the basis of acting,” he said, adding that both of his parents had studied with acclaimed acting teacher Michael Chekhov, “and a lot of things my mom learned with him were passed down to all of us.”

Born Dorothy Louise Simpson on Sept. 19, 1915, in Worcester, Mass., she moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was 2.

She was a student at UCLA when she appeared in a small theatrical production in which her leading man was upperclassman Lloyd Bridges. They were married in New York City in 1938 and returned to Los Angeles in the early 1940s when Lloyd landed a contract with Columbia Pictures.

Over the years, Dorothy Bridges appeared on screen with family members in “Sea Hunt,” the 1986 TV movie “The Thanksgiving Promise,” the 1989 movie “See You in the Morning” and the 1994 TV movie “Secret Sins of the Father.”

In addition to her three children, Bridges is survived by her brother, Frederick Simpson Jr.; 11 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Instead of flowers, her family suggests that donations be made in her memory to Oceana, the Environmental Defense Fund or CARE.

Services will be private.