Inspired by a household buddy to audition for the theater and lie about his lack of expertise, the red-haired, freckle-faced Mr. Lydon went into performing, regardless of having close to seen a stage present. He made his Broadway debut that 12 months at age 14, showing with Van Heflin in a play referred to as “Western Waters,” and went on to develop an performing profession that spanned half a century and practically 150 movie and tv credit, together with on one of many first TV cleaning soap operas, “The First Hundred Years,” and on a 1987 episode of the medical drama “St. Elsewhere,” his swan music.
Mr. Lydon stated he by no means actually loved being in entrance of the digicam, and blamed Hollywood for the lack of his childhood. However he turned an in-demand actor whereas enjoying kindhearted adolescents, together with the British title character in “Tom Brown’s Faculty Days” (1940) and the oldest son of William Powell and Irene Dunne in “Life With Father” (1947), a critically acclaimed Technicolor comedy. As Mr. Lydon advised it, he additionally gave Elizabeth Taylor her first on-screen kiss whereas enjoying her love curiosity in “Cynthia” (1947), when he was 24 and she or he was 15.
But he remained greatest recognized for taking part in the endearingly gawky Henry Aldrich in a success film collection for Paramount, rising as a big-screen image of American boyhood alongside Mickey Rooney, who starred as Andy Hardy in one other common movie collection of the Thirties and ′40s. Summoned by his mom with a piercing cry — “Hennnnnn-reeeeeee! Hen-ry Aldrich!” — Mr. Lydon’s character would reply with a signature nasal twang and a crack in his voice: “Coming, mom!”
Mr. Lydon was 98 when he died March 9 at his residence in San Diego. His daughter Cathy Lydon confirmed the demise however didn’t give a trigger.
At the same time as he aged-out of adolescent display roles, Mr. Lydon was typically approached by strangers who would ask, “Say, aren’t you Henry Aldrich?” He remained modest about his movie profession, telling the San Diego Union-Tribune, “I used to be the junior-flyweight king of the B photos.”
The Henry Aldrich character originated in 1938, performed by Ezra Stone on Broadway in Clifford Goldsmith’s play “What a Life” and afterward the radio in a well-liked weekly sitcom, “The Aldrich Household.” Jackie Cooper took over the position for 2 motion pictures earlier than Mr. Lydon succeeded him on-screen, enjoying Henry in 9 movies, from “Henry Aldrich for President” (1941) to “Henry Aldrich’s Little Secret” (1944).
Mr. Lydon stated he sought to keep away from being typecast within the position, asking Paramount government Y. Frank Freeman to place him in different motion pictures exterior the Henry collection.
“You’re getting paid,” the studio chief replied. “Go do your work.”
He later starred in director Edgar G. Ulmer’s “Unusual Phantasm” (1945), a low-budget movie noir impressed by “Hamlet,” and appeared in additional distinguished motion pictures similar to “The Time of Your Life” (1948) with James Cagney, “Joan of Arc” (1948) with Ingrid Bergman, “September Affair” (1950) with Joan Fontaine and Joseph Cotten, and “The Magnificent Yankee” (1950), starring Louis Calhern as Supreme Court docket Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.
Starting within the early Nineteen Sixties, he was additionally an affiliate producer on reveals together with the detective drama “77 Sundown Strip” and the World Warfare II sitcom “Mister Roberts.” He later branched into TV writing and directing, and as a producer for Warner Bros. he labored on photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks’s 1969 coming-of-age movie “The Studying Tree,” thought of the primary main Hollywood film directed by an African American.
Mr. Lydon was additionally an assistant producer of the CBS sitcom “Roll Out,” a “M.A.S.H.”-style army comedy that starred two Black actors, a rarity on the time, and ran for one season starting in 1973. Showing on-screen in a visitor position, he performed an Military captain with a well-known identify: Aldrich.
The fifth of 9 youngsters, James Joseph Lydon was born in Harrington Park, N.J., on Could 30, 1923. He stated he had two membership ft that had been practically amputated earlier than a health care provider intervened and carried out corrective surgical procedure, and walked with a slight limp for the remainder of his life.
Mr. Lydon carried out in 5 Broadway reveals, together with the revue “Sing Out the Information,” earlier than making his Hollywood debut in “Again Door to Heaven” (1939), kicking off what he described as a hectic interval of nonstop rehearsals, excursions, film productions and tv or radio appearances.
“From the very starting, it was a really ugly expertise,” he stated in an interview for Richard Lamparski’s ebook collection “No matter Grew to become Of…?” He later advocated for an actors’ pension and well being care plan as vp of the Display screen Actors Guild.
Mr. Lydon appeared in dozens of TV visitor roles, together with episodes of “Maverick,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Six Million Greenback Man” and “Lou Grant,” along with performing in motion pictures similar to “The Final Time I Noticed Archie” (1961), a comedy with Robert Mitchum, and “Vigilante Pressure” (1976), with Kris Kristofferson.
His marriage to Patricia Pernetti led to divorce. In 1952 he married Betty Lou Nedell, the daughter of actress Olive Blakeney, who performed his mom within the Aldrich motion pictures. Their daughter Cathy stated in a telephone interview that Blakeney celebrated the marriage by sending out cheeky playing cards, “saying one thing like, ‘My daughter is marrying my son.’ ”
His spouse died New Yr’s Day. Along with his daughter Cathy Lydon, of Albuquerque, survivors embrace one other daughter, Julie Lydon Cornell of Taplow, England; and two granddaughters.
Mr. Lydon by no means needed his daughters to enter performing, telling Lamparski that it was “unnatural” to see youngsters on the stage or display.
“He advised us from the time I can keep in mind that he needed us to have an actual childhood that he didn’t have,” Cathy stated. “After we turned 21, if we needed to get into the enterprise, he would assist us any approach we might. By the point we had been 21, we knew higher.”