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 Strother Martin, Jr

Strother Martin, Jr

Birth
Kokomo, Howard County, Indiana, USA
Death 1 Aug 1980 (aged 61)
Thousand Oaks, Ventura County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Courts of Remembrance, Columbarium of Radiant Dawn, Niche G-62310
Memorial ID 2046 · View Source
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Actor. He is best remembered for his role as the ‘Prison Warden’ in the Paul Newman-led motion picture, "Cool Hand Luke" (1967), in which he utters the iconic line "What we got here is a failure to communicate." Born in Kokomo, Indiana, while young his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, but soon returned back to Indiana, where he grew up in Indianapolis and Cloverdale, Indiana. He was an excellent swimmer, and by age 17, he won the National Junior Springboard Diving Championship. During World War II, he served as a swimming instructor in the United States Navy, and following the war, was a member of the diving team at the University of Michigan. He entered the National Springboard Diving Competition in hopes of getting a spot on the 1948 US Olympic Team, but finished third in the competition. Afterwards, he moved to Los Angeles, California, where he found work as a swimming instructor, and as an extra in water scenes in Hollywood motion pictures, earning bit roles in some of the movies. During the 1950s, he began a career as a background actor of small cameo roles in a number of movies and television shows, including such films as "Attack!!" (1956), "The Shaggy Dog" (1959), "The Horse Soldiers" (1959), and "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962). These roles, which often required a villain or thug, got him continuous work against noted A-list actors, but did not get him star billing. In 1967 his role in “Cool Hand Luke” with its famous line brought him success he had not yet achieved in movies. When the line made instant history, he got more notice and better roles. He continued to work steadily over the next twenty years, including appearing in some of the most noted western movies of the late 1960s: "The Wild Bunch" (1969), "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (1969), and "True Grit" (1969), as well as the sequel, "Rooster Cogburn" (1975). On television, he was often the guest actor in such shows as “Glynis”, “Kentucky Jones”, “Gilligan's Island”, and “The Rockford Files”. In the last decade of his life, his work as a character actor began to benefit from audience notice, making him more in demand than ever before. He died of a heart attack in 1980, at the age of 61.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 1 Jan 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 2046
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Strother Martin, Jr (26 Mar 1919–1 Aug 1980), Find A Grave Memorial no. 2046, citing Forest Lawn Memorial Park (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .