David Hedison, a film, television, and theater actor known for his role as Captain Lee Crane in the sci-fi adventure television series “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” and as the crazed scientist turned human insect in the first iteration of the film “The Fly,” died on July 18. He was 92, and the family said in a statement that he “died peacefully” with his daughters at his side.
“Even in our deep sadness, we are comforted by the memory of our wonderful father. He loved us all dearly and expressed that love every day. He was adored by so many, all of whom benefited from his warm and generous heart. Our dad brought joy and humor wherever he went and did so with great style,” said the family in a statement.
David Hedison, born Al Hedison, was from Providence, R.I. and studied at Brown University where he grew fond of the theater, becoming a part of the university’s theater production group “Sock and Buskin Players.” He then moved to New York, studying with Sanford Meisner at “The Neighborhood Playhouse” as well as Lee Strasberg of “The Actor’s Studio.” In the 1950s, he appeared in “Much Ado About Nothing” and “A Month in the Country,” working with Uta Hagen and Michael Redgrave on productions by Clifford Odets and Christopher Fry, among others.
Shortly after “A Month in the Country,” Hedison first hit the big screen with his role in the 1957 film “The Enemy Below” and in the 1958 film “Son of Robin Hood.” He also played André Delambre in “The Fly,” (1958) which became a cult phenomenon and sparked a remake in 1986 with Jeff Goldblum reprising the role. Hedison then signed with Twentieth Century Fox in 1959 and changed his first name to David, his given middle name. In 1964, he hit his big television break as Captain Lee Crane in producer Irwin Allen’s “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” which ran until 1968.
He also joined Roger Moore in the 1973 James Bond film “Live and Let Die” as well as Timothy Dalton in 1989 with “License to Kill,” becoming the first actor to play CIA agent Felix Leiter twice. In the 1980s and 1990s, he worked on shows such as “Another World,” “T.J. Hooker,” “Dynasty,” “The Love Boat,” “Who’s the Boss” and “The Colbys.”
According to family members, Hedison joked during his final days that “instead of RIP he preferred SRO ‘Standing Room Only.’” They said that he was “tall and strikingly handsome,” and “a true actor through and through.”
Hedison’s wife, Bridget, a production associate on “Dynasty” and an assistant to producer on “The Colbys,” died in 2016. He is survived by two daughters; Serena and Alexandra, an actress and director who is married to Jodie Foster.
Donations may be made to the Actor’s Fund.
Hedison was in one of my favorite World War II films …
… and my favorite James Bond movie …
… and one of my favorite weekend shows, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” …
… along with other entertainment:
“Voyage” was based on the movie of the same name, created by Irwin Allen, the “master of disaster” for a variety of ’70s disaster movies. (Hedison was offered the captain role in the movie, but turned it down, though Allen got him for the series.) “Voyage” featured a submarine unlike any other in the world, created by a brilliant admiral who hired Hedison’s character away from the Navy to be its captain.
As is always the case except for anthologies, the strength of “Voyage” was its characters and their relationships. The first-season black-and-white episodes are mostly Cold War-related, and quite good. Then came color, and while Cold War episodes continued …
… monsters and aliens showed up as well, some of which were more believable than others.
The irony of “Killers of the Deep” is that it included stock footage from “The Enemy Below,” which included Hedison, and an actor, Michael Ansara, from the original movie. It would have been hilarious if they had figured out a way to get Hedison’s “Enemy” character to be in the same scene as the Seaview captain.