Jimmy Lydon

James J. Lydon (born May 30, 1923) is an American actor and television producer whose career in the entertainment industry began as a teenager during the 1930s.[1]

Jimmy Lydon
Lydon in 2013
James J. Lydon

(1923-05-30) May 30, 1923
ResidenceBonita, California
Other namesJames Lydon
OccupationActor, producer
Years active1939–1987
Spouse(s)Patricia Pernetti
(m. 1945; div. 19??)
Betty Lou Nedell (m. 1952)

Early life

Lydon was born in Harrington Park in northeastern New Jersey, the fifth of nine children. His family was of Irish heritage. He was raised in Bergenfield.[2]


In 1932, Lydon's father, who was an alcoholic, decided to retire from working. This decision forced all of the other family members to seek employment in the depths of the Great Depression.[3] In 1937, Jimmy Lydon, not knowing what he wanted to do, tried his hand at acting. His first role was Danny in the Broadway play Western Waters. He had been allowed to audition for the part after fabricating a list of roles he had previously portrayed. In the next couple of years, he learned the acting craft while performing in plays such as Sunup to Sundown, Prologue to Glory, Sing Out the News, and The Happiest Days. In 1939, he moved with his family to Hollywood to seek film roles.

One of his first starring roles was the title character in the 1940 movie Tom Brown's School Days, also starring Cedric Hardwicke and Freddie Bartholomew. The film was well received by critics, with Variety praising it in a January 1940 review as "sympathetically and skillfully made, with many touching moments and an excellent cast". Lydon was called "believable and moving in the early portions, but too young for the final moments".[4]

Between 1941 and 1944, under contract to Paramount Pictures, Lydon starred as the screechy-voiced, adolescent Henry Aldrich in the movie series of that title.[3] After completing the Aldrich series, the 21-year-old Lydon signed a contract in 1944 with Republic Pictures.[5]

He appeared with William Powell, Irene Dunne, and Elizabeth Taylor in the acclaimed 1947 film Life with Father, in the role of college-bound Clarence. Variety called Jimmy Lydon's portrayal "effective as the potential Yale man".[6]

He then appeared opposite James Cagney in the 1948 movie The Time of Your Life. From 1949 to 1950, he and Janet Waldo voiced the leading characters in the radio comedy Young Love.

Lydon easily gained roles in the new medium of television. He portrayed Chris Thayer on The First Hundred Years. The show was CBS' first daytime soap opera. It was performed live for three seasons of three hundred episodes.

In 1953, he was cast as Murray in the aviation adventure film Island in the Sky, starring John Wayne. He also played Biffen Cardoza on the last six episodes of Rocky Jones, Space Ranger in 1954 and made appearances in Lux Video Theatre and The Christophers. In 1955, he appeared on Sergeant Preston of the Yukon as Johnny Lane plagued by cabin fever in the episode titled "The Williwaw".

In 1958, Lydon played the role of Richard in Anne Jeffreys and Robert Sterling's short-lived sitcom, Love That Jill. Lydon appeared in guest roles on Crossroads, Casey Jones, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp, Wagon Train, Hennesey, The Twilight Zone, and Tales of the Texas Rangers, as Lt. Jared Evans in the 1958 episode "Warpath". A year later, he guest starred on the ABC/Warner Brothers western television series Colt .45, starring Wayde Preston. Lydon played the role of Willy in the episode "Return to El Paso", with Paul Picerni cast as Jose.[7]

After working increasingly in television in the 1950s, he turned to production and helped to create the detective series 77 Sunset Strip, as well as the CBS sitcom M*A*S*H. He also produced the television adaptation of the film Mister Roberts in 1966 and Roll Out in 1973-1974. Lydon played Captain Henry Aldrich (a reference to his Aldrich movie series) on the latter show.

In 1963, Lydon was working for Warner Brothers to place on the NBC fall schedule a new western series, Temple Houston, starring Jeffrey Hunter as Temple Lea Houston, an historical figure, a clever lawyer, and the youngest son of Sam Houston. On orders from studio boss Jack Webb, episodes were put together in two or three days each, something previously thought impossible in television production. Work began on August 7, 1963, with the initial airing set for September 19. Lydon recalls that Webb told the staff: "Fellas, I just sold Temple Houston. We gotta be on the air in four weeks, we can't use the pilot, we have no scripts, no nothing - do it!"[8] Lydon recalls the team having worked around the clock to get Temple Houston on the air. Co-producer William Conrad directed six episodes, two scripts simultaneously on two different soundstages at Warner Brothers: "We bicycled Jeff (Jeffrey Hunter) and (secondary character Jack Elam) Elam between the two companies, and Bill shot 'em both in four-and-a-half days. Two complete one-hour shows!".[8] Though the production challenge was met with much difficulty, Temple Houston never gained popularity in the ratings and ended after twenty-six weeks.[8] At the same time script and cast changes that Webb had imposed on 77 Sunset Strip, with Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., left as the sole character, caused the cancellation of that series before it could finish its sixth season.

During the 1980s, Lydon continued to act in television, with roles on episodes of Lou Grant, Simon & Simon, and St. Elsewhere.

Lyndon was briefly married to Patricia Pernetti, in the late 1940s.[9] he has been married to Betty Lou Nedell since 1952, and retired to Bonita in San Diego County, California. They have two daughters and two granddaughters.


Year Title Role Notes
1939 Back Door to Heaven Frankie Rogers
The Middleton Family at the New York World's Fair Bud
Two Thoroughbreds David Carey
1940 Tom Brown's School Days Tom Brown
Little Men Dan
Bowery Boy Sock Dolan
1941 Naval Academy Tommy Blake
Henry Aldrich for President Henry Aldrich
1942 Cadets on Parade Joe Novak
The Mad Martindales Bobby Bruce Turner
Henry and Dizzy Henry Aldrich
Henry Aldrich, Editor
Star Spangled Rhythm Jimmy Lydon Uncredited
1943 Aerial Gunner Pvt. Sanford 'Sandy' Lunt
Henry Aldrich Gets Glamour Henry Aldrich
Henry Aldrich Swings It
Henry Aldrich Haunts a House
1944 Henry Aldrich, Boy Scout
My Best Gal Johnny McCloud
Henry Aldrich Plays Cupid Henry Aldrich
Henry Aldrich's Little Secret
When the Lights Go On Again Ted Benson
The Town Went Wild Bob Harrison
1945 Strange Illusion Paul Cartwright
Twice Blessed Mickey Pringle
1946 Affairs of Geraldine Willy Briggs
1947 Life with Father Clarence Day, Jr.
Cynthia Ricky Latham
Sweet Genevieve Bill Kennedy
Good News Tommy's classmate Uncredited
1948 The Time of Your Life Dudley Raoul Bostwick
Out of the Storm Donald Lewis
Joan of Arc Pierre d'Arc
1949 An Old-Fashioned Girl Tom Shaw
Miss Mink of 1949 Joe Forrester
Bad Boy Ted Hendry
Tucson Andy Bryant
1950 When Willie Comes Marching Home Charles Fettles
Tarnished Junior Bunker
Destination Big House Freddy Brooks
September Affair Johnny Wilson
Hot Rod David Langham
The Magnificent Yankee Clinton
1951 Gasoline Alley Skeezix
Oh! Susanna Trumpeter Benton
Corky of Gasoline Alley Skeezix Wallet
1953 Island in the Sky Murray
1954 The Desperado Tom Cameron
1955 Rage at Dawn Dedrick - Fisher's Clerk Uncredited
1956 Battle Stations Squawk Hewitt
1957 Chain of Evidence Steve Nordstrom
1960 The Hypnotic Eye Emergency doctor
I Passed for White Jay Morgan
1961 The Last Time I Saw Archie Pvt. Billy Simpson
1969 Death of a Gunfighter Luke Mills
1971 Scandalous John Grotch
1973 Bonnie's Kids Motel Manager
1976 Vigilante Force Tom Crousy

Short Subjects:

  • Home Early (1939) as Junior Doakes (uncredited)
  • A Letter from Bataan (1942) as Chuck Lewis
  • The Aldrich Family Gets in the Scrap (1943) as Henry Aldrich
  • Caribbean Romance (1943) as Peter Conway
  • The Shining Future (1944) as Danny Ames
  • Road to Victory (1944) as Danny Ames
  • Time to Kill (1945) as Lou


  1. Erickson, Hal. "Jimmy Lydon biography". The New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  2. Feldberg, Robert. "HOW WE HAD FUN", The Record (Bergen County), May 7, 1995. Accessed October 25, 2009. "And Bergenfield-bred Jimmy Lydon, who played the eternal teenager Henry Aldrich on radio and in B movies, had married his high-school sweetheart."
  3. "Jimmy Lydon; stage, film, television and behind the camera". The Milwaukee Journal. January 20, 1983. Retrieved 2019-11-29.
  4. "Tom Brown's School Days; Adventures at Rugby". Variety. January 1, 1940. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  5. "SCREEN NEWS; Jimmy Lydon Gets Term Contract With Republic" (PDF). The New York Times. December 23, 1944. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  6. "Life with Father". Variety. January 1, 1947. Retrieved December 6, 2008.
  7. "Colt .45". ctva.biz. Retrieved December 22, 2012.
  8. Billy Hathorn, "Roy Bean, Temple Houston, Bill Longley, Ranald Mackenzie, Buffalo Bill, Jr., and the Texas Rangers: Depictions of West Texans in Series Television, 1955 to 1967", West Texas Historical Review, Vol. 89 (2013), pp. 106-109
  9. "Actor Jimmy Lydon To Be Wed Tomorrow". Tucson Daily Citizen. April 13, 1945. p. 9. Retrieved July 7, 2016.
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