Dennis O’Neil: Sea Hunt, Iron Man, and Me
Way, way back in the day, when Harry S. Truman was president and that thing in the living room, that teevee set that daddy brought home, well, we watched whatever was on. I mean, it’s not like there were a lot of choices. In St. Louis we had no more than three channels, and back then, it might have been one or even two fewer. So you watched teevee, sometimes because there was a program you wanted too see, sometimes because, well…you wanted to watch teevee. You twisted the knob and whatever was on that wobbly, blurry, staticky screen is what you saw.
Sea Hunt, starring Lloyd Bridges, was sometimes what was on and what I watched. I thought it was okay – not a favorite, but okay. I couldn’t have seen it much because it debuted in 1958, which was my first year at the university, and you know what freshman college is: a new world, new friends, new disciplines, new activities and, oh yeah, there was this cute little brunette, senior at Xavier High, who was claiming my attention.
Later, watching one of the great movie westerns, I saw the same Lloyd Bridges have a dustup with Gary Cooper as the clock hands in the marshal’s office ticked closer and closer to High Noon.
I might have seen an issue or two of the Sea Hunt comic book. But maybe not, By then, I thought comics were a relic of my childhood, and if I ever did see a Sea Hunt, I probably didn’t read it.
Later still, in a northern California spa, I passed a guy standing at the checkout desk who, I was later told, was Beau Bridges, Lloyd’s oldest son. Oldest, but not only: Beau has a younger brother, Jeff.
Jeff is, like his brother and father, an actor. By any reasonable criteria, he is a movie star, but I think of him as actor and only incidentally star. There is something to be said for going into the family business, and I’m glad Jeff chose to do so.
I’ve never met Jeff Bridges, probably never will. But I do feel some connection with Jeff. Actually, two connections.
Jeff starred in a movie titled Eight Million Ways to Die, adapted, loosely, from the novel of the same title. Not a great flick, despite being directed by the excellent Hal Ashby. The novel’s author, my old friend Lawrence Block, once remarked that it was strange, how they made a movie with the same title as his book…Eight Million Ways to Die is connection one. I know the author of the original story.
Then I saw and liked a bunch of other Jeff Bridges performances, not the least of which was the remake of True Grit. Dad was in a cowboy show and now son was in one, too. Call this the circle of life, cinematic edition.
Connection two: Iron Man. The first movie incarnation of the Marvel Comics armored do-gooder, starring Robert Downey Jr. and – wait for it – Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane, the flick’s main villain and – now hold your breath – my creation. I introduced stinker Obadiah into Iron Man continuity over 20 years ago and pretty much forgot him. No reason to remember him, really. But sometimes the universe smiles and so Stane is resurrected by one of my favorite actors and life is good.
You may be asking: What’s all his got to do with anything? Okay, I’ll tell you: the preceding 572 words are a lead-in to this week’s –
REC0MMENDED READING: The Dude and the Zen Master, by Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman.
Happy to be of service.
FRIDAY MORNING: Martha Thomases and That Game