Jimmy Lydon, who portrayed William Powell’s oldest son in Life With Father and the trouble-prone excessive schooler Henry Aldrich in a speedy collection of Paramount “B” films, has died. He was 98.
Lydon died peacefully March 9 at his residence in San Diego, his daughter Julie Lydon Cornell introduced.
Lydon stated he gave Elizabeth Taylor her first onscreen kiss after they each starred in Cynthia (1947), and he starred from 1950-52 in what is taken into account to be the primary community TV daytime cleaning soap opera, CBS’ The First Hundred Years, carried out dwell 5 days every week.
Starting within the Sixties, Lydon labored as a producer on films and TV exhibits together with the famed ABC detective collection 77 Sunset Strip and an NBC adaptation of Mister Roberts, each starring Roger Smith; the ABC comedy McHale’s Navy; and the NBC Westerns Wagon Train and Temple Houston.
In Life With Father (1947), directed in three-strip Technicolor by Michael Curtiz, Lydon performed Clarence Day Jr., the primary of 4 redheaded sons of a cussed well-to-do stockbroker in 1880’s New York City. Irene Dunne portrayed his mother, and Lydon’s character, certain for Yale University, was taken with the gorgeous Mary Skinner, performed by Taylor, then 14.
The movie was an adaptation of a Broadway play that starred Howard Lindsay and ran for greater than 3,200 performances, from 1939 to 1947.
“We worked for four and a half months on that picture,” Lydon informed Nick Thomas in a 2016 interview. “Mr. [Jack] Warner wanted to spend all the money in the world on it and take his time to produce a prestige piece for Warner Bros. He paid a million dollars just for the rights to the story, which was a lot of money in the 1940s. It was the most expensive picture Warner Bros. had made at the time, costing around $4.5 million.”
After Jackie Cooper starred as Henry in What a Life (1939) and Life With Henry (1941), Lydon took over for the ultimate 9 movies within the farcical collection, from Henry Aldrich for President (1941) to Henry Aldrich’s Little Secret (1944).
The character with the high-pitched voice had begun on Broadway in 1938 earlier than changing into the centerpiece of a long-running radio collection recognized for his mother calling out, “Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeee! Hen-ree Al-drich!” at first of every program, adopted by Henry’s reply, “Coming, Mother!”
James Lydon was born on May 30, 1923, in Harrington Park, New Jersey, the fifth of 9 youngsters (he had six brothers and two sisters) in an Irish-Catholic household. He described his father as a violent alcoholic who got here to the dinner desk one night in 1937 and introduced that he was quitting his job in New York’s monetary district and retiring.
“And he did, he never worked again,” Lydon stated in a 2013 interview with Alan Okay. Rode of the Film Noir Foundation. “We were living on the edge of disaster.”
A household good friend who had a few youngsters working within the theater recommended Lydon’s mom flip considered one of her youngsters into an actor. “If you open your mouth on the Broadway stage, you make $25 a week,” he stated. “In the ’30s, that was a fortune.”
The freckle-faced Lydon had zero appearing expertise however lied about being in three performs and was employed for a task reverse Van Heflin within the 1937 Broadway drama Western Waters. “I learned how to be an actor by being paid to learn,” he stated. For years, he was the one one within the household with a job.
After stints in 4 different Broadway performs, Lydon and his household headed to Hollywood in September 1939, and he appeared in Back Door to Heaven and Two Thoroughbreds that 12 months. Signed by RKO, he obtained the most important break of his younger profession, getting forged because the title character in Tom Brown’s School Days (1940), the studio’s second-ever $1 million image (Gunga Din was the primary).
He signed with Paramount and famous that he labored simply 63 days a 12 months on the studio, making three movies at 21 days apiece. The remainder of the time he attended lessons at studio college and realized the best way to make films watching execs on dubbing levels and in enhancing rooms. That would turn out to be useful when he segued into producing.
After Henry Aldrich’s Little Secret, Lydon knew he was going to be typecast. “It was the kiss of death when you finish up a series,” he stated. “It sticks to you like glue.”
Still, he appeared in Edgar Ulmer’s Strange Illusion (1945), with James Cagney in The Time of Your Life (1948), reverse Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotton in September Affair (1950), in John Sturges’ The Magnificent Yankee (1950) and with John Wayne in Island within the Sky (1953).
He additionally performed Skeezix in three Gasoline Alley movies at Columbia, all launched in 1951 and primarily based on a newspaper cartoon.
In notable tv roles within the Nineteen Forties and ’50s, Lydon portrayed Simon Vanderhopper, who dated the daughter of Jackie Gleason’s character, on the NBC comedy The Life of Reilly and was an everyday on the syndicated sci-fi present Rocky Jones, Space Ranger and on ABC’s Love That Jill, starring real-life husband and spouse Robert Sterling and Anne Jeffreys.
He went on to look on Wanted: Dead or Alive, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Wagon Train, The Twilight Zone, Cannon, Adam-12, Lou Grant and St. Elsewhere and direct an episode of The Six Million Dollar Man.
On the short-lived 1973-74 CBS comedy Roll Out, created by M*A*S*H legends Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, Lydon produced and performed an Army captain named Henry Aldrich.
He grew to become nice mates with Robert Armstrong, and when the King Kong star died at age 82 in 1973, Lydon grow to be the authorized guardian of his spouse, Louise, as per his will.
Lydon served as vice chairman of SAG underneath Ronald Reagan within the late Nineteen Forties, co-creating the actors’ pension and well being plan. The golden age star additionally was a member of the DGA.
He married actress Betty Lou Nedell, who additionally was on The First Hundred Years, in 1952. Her mom, Olive Blakeney, portrayed his mother in most of the Aldrich films. Lydon and Nedell have been married for nearly 70 years till her demise two months in the past.
Survivors embody his daughters, Julie and Cathy, and granddaughters, Keara and Taryn.