Actor Jimmy Lydon, who was born on this day in 1923, is still with us today. He started appearing in movies in 1937, and became known quickly as the lead in Paramount's Henry Aldrich series of films from 1941-44. Henry was a lot like Andy Hardy (played by the young Mickey Rooney), although the Henry Aldrich films and their stars were never quite as popular as the Andy Hardy crowd. Lydon had replaced Jackie Cooper, who played Henry in the first two films (trivial note: the original Henry Aldrich film, What a Life, was adapted by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett from the popular stage play).

After the Aldrich series faded away, Lydon successfully continued playing wholesome teenage characters for several years. The above still is from the 1947 film Life with Father, which starred William Powell as an exacting head of a large family. The young lady Lydon is romancing in the photo is Elizabeth Taylor. Life with Father was adapted by Donald Odgen Stewart (who also adapted Holiday and The Philadelphia Story) from a stage play, and was directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca). The cast also includes Irene Dunne, Zasu Pitts, and Edmund Gwenn ... I'm tempted to rent the DVD to refresh my memory, since I'm not quite sure whether I saw this movie as a child.

Lydon's career turned out quite differently from his co-star Taylor: he played character roles in film and television through the late 1980s, often credited with the more grown-up name James Lydon. He also moved into producing and directing for TV. Sadly, none of the Henry Aldrich films are available on DVD yet, so it's hard to catch the chance to see the young Lydon at his best on screen.
categories Features, Cinematical