Strother Martin

Biography

Strother Martin, Jr. (March 26, 1919 – August 1, 1980) was an American actor. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison "captain" in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, in which he uttered the line, "What we've got here is...failure to communicate." Early Life Martin was born in Kokomo, Indiana. As a child, he excelled at swimming and diving, and got the nickname "T-Bone Martin" from his diving expertise. At 17, he won the National Junior Springboard Diving Championship. He served as a swimming instructor in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was a member of the diving team at the University of Michigan. He entered the adult National Springboard Diving competition in hopes of gaining a berth on the U.S. Olympic team, but finished third in the competition. Acting Career After the war, Martin moved to Los Angeles and worked as a swimming instructor and as a swimming extra in water scenes in films, eventually earning bit roles in a number of pictures. He quickly became a frequent fixture in small character roles in movies and television through the 1950s, having appeared in such programs as Frontier on NBC and the syndicated American Civil War drama Gray Ghost. He appeared in the first Brian Keith series, Crusader, a Cold War drama. He guest starred as a circus tight rope walker in one of the 1957 Have Gun Will Travel TV westerns. He guest starred in 1958 as a henpecked soldier in an episode of the syndicated Boots and Saddles. In 1960, Martin guest starred in James Whitmore's crime drama, The Law and Mr. Jones on ABC. In 1966, he appeared twice as "Cousin Fletch" in the short-lived ABC comedy western The Rounders, with Ron Hayes, Patrick Wayne, and Chill Wills. Martin's distinctive, reedy voice and menacing demeanor made him ideal for villainous roles in many of the best-known Westerns of the 1960s and 1970s, including The Horse Soldiers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. By the late 1960s, Martin was almost as well-known a figure as many top-billed stars. In 1967, the same year as his role in "Cool Hand Luke," he appeared in the episode "A Mighty Hunter Before the Lord" of NBC's The Road West series starring Barry Sullivan. In 1972, he appeared as James Garner's uncle in the "Zacharia" episode of Nichols. The play The Time of Your Life was revived in March 17, 1972 at the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles with Martin, Henry Fonda, Richard Dreyfuss, Gloria Grahame, Lewis J. Stadlen, Ron Thompson, Jane Alexander, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin among the cast with Edwin Sherin directing. Martin appeared in all three of the classic Westerns released in 1969: Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch (as Coffer, a bloodthirsty bounty hunter); George Roy Hill's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (as Percy Garris, the "colorful" Bolivian mine boss who hires the two title characters); and Henry Hathaway's True Grit (as Colonel Stonehill, a horse dealer). He frequently acted alongside L. Q. Jones, who in real life was one of his closest friends. Though he usually appeared in supporting roles, he had major parts in Hannie Caulder, The Brotherhood of Satan (both 1971), Pocket Money (1972) with Paul Newman and Lee Marvin, and SSSSSSS (1973). Martin later appeared in another George Roy Hill film, Slap Shot (1977), again with Paul Newman, as the cheap general manager of the Charlestown Chiefs hockey club. He appeared six times each with both John Wayne and Paul Newman. Strother Martin can also be seen in Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke (1978) as Arnold Stoner, the father of Tommy Chong's character Anthony. Martin made many guest appearances on Gunsmoke, including the two-part episode "Island in the Desert," in which he portrayed a crazy desert hermit named Ben Snow. He also made many guest appearances on Perry Mason throughout the nine-year run from 1957-1966, including a college employee in The Case of the Brazen Bequest. In 1963, he appeared in Glynis Johns's short-lived comedy series Glynis in the episode "Ten Cents a Dance." In 1965, Martin appeared in the episode "Most Precious Gold" of the NBC comedy/drama series Kentucky Jones, starring Dennis Weaver. In 1965, he guest-starred as Meeker in the episode "Return to Lawrence" on the ABC western The Legend of Jesse James. In 1966, he guest-starred in the Lost In Space episode "Blast Off Into Space" as a gritty mining engineer. On a Gilligan's Island episode, Martin played a man living supposedly alone on the island for a radio show contest. He also starred in a two- part The Rockford Files 1977 episode as T.T. Flowers, an episode that took on urban invasion and the environment. Death Martin was married to Helen Meisels-Martin from 1967 until his death. He died of a heart attack in 1980 at the age of 61. His widow, who was 10 years his senior, died in 1997, and her ashes were interred with Martin's in Court of Remembrance, Columbarium of Radiant Dawn, at Hollywood Hills Forest Lawn, in North Hollywood, CA. Partial Filmography The Asphalt Jungle (1950) (uncredited) Rhubarb (1951) (uncredited) The Magnetic Monster (1953) (uncredited) Kiss Me Deadly (1955) Attack! (1956) Black Patch (1957) Cowboy (1958) (uncredited) The Shaggy Dog (1959) The Wild and the Innocent (1959) The Horse Soldiers (1959) Sanctuary (1961) The Deadly Companions (1961) The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) McLintock! (1963) Invitation to a Gunfighter (1964) Brainstorm (1965) Shenandoah (1965) The Sons of Katie Elder (1965) Harper (1966) Nevada Smith (1966) An Eye for an Eye (1966) The Flim-Flam Man (1967) Cool Hand Luke (1967) True Grit (1969) The Wild Bunch (1969) Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) The Ballad of Cable Hogue (1970) Red Sky at Morning (1971) The Brotherhood of Satan (1971) Fools' Parade (1971) Hannie Caulder (1971) Pocket Money (1972) SSSSSSS (1973) Hard Times (1975) Rooster Cogburn (1975) The Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday (1976) Slap Shot (1977) The End (1978) Up in Smoke (1978) The Champ (1979) Love and Bullets (1979) The Villain (1979) Nightwing (1979) The Secret of Nikola Tesla (1980)

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Birth Name

Strother Douglas Martin Jr.

Birth Place

Kokomo, Indiana, États-Unis

Birth Date

3/26/1919

Death Date

8/1/1980
Known For
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Slap Shot

McGrath

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True Grit

Col. G. Stonehill

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Sssssss

Dr. Carl Stoner

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Hard Times

Poe

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The Ballad of Cable Hogue

Bowen

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Pocket Money

Bill Garrett

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Fools' Parade

Lee Cottrill

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The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday

Billy

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Storm Over Tibet

Co-pilot

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Cool Hand Luke

Captain

Starring In
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The Villain

Parody Jones

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The Champ

Riley

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Love and Bullets

Louis Monk

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Nightwing

Selwyn

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Fast Lane Fever

Pinky Pincus

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Up In Smoke

Arnold Stoner

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The End

Dr. Waldo Kling

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Slap Shot

McGrath

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The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday

Billy

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Hard Times

Poe

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Rooster Cogburn

McCoy

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The Best of Baretta

Doc Stockwell / ... (3 episodes, 1975-1977)

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Sssssss

Dr. Carl Stoner

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Pocket Money

Bill Garrett

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Hannie Caulder

Rufus Clemens

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The Brotherhood of Satan

Doc Duncan

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Fools' Parade

Lee Cottrill

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The Ballad of Cable Hogue

Bowen

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Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

Percy Garris

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True Grit

Col. G. Stonehill

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The Wild Bunch

Coffer

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Cool Hand Luke

Captain

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The Flim Flam Man

Lovick

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The Guns of Will Sonnett: Season 1

Harvey Bains / ... (2 episodes, 1967-1968)

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Harper

Claude

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An Eye for an Eye

Trumbull the Fink

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The Sons of Katie Elder

Jeb Ross

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Shenandoah

Zugingenieur

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Desafío al Destino

Mr. Clyde

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Invitation to a Gunfighter

Fiddler

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McLintock!

Agard

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Showdown

Charlie Reeder

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The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

Floyd

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The Deadly Companions

Parson

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The Wild and the Innocent

Ben Stocker

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The Horse Soldiers

Virgil

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The Shaggy Dog

Thurm

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Cowboy

Cowhand Bitten by Snake (uncredited)

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Black Patch

Deputy Petey Walker

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Attack

Sgt. Ingersol

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Mundo Sin Fin

Nihka (uncredited)

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Kiss Me Deadly

Harvey Wallace

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Strategic Air Command

Airman (uncredited)

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The Big Knife

Stillman (uncredited)

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A Star is Born

Delivery Boy (uncredited)

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The Silver Chalice

Father of Lame Girl

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L'aigle solitaire

Scotty

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World for Ransom

Corporal (uncredited)

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The Magnetic Monster

Co-Pilot

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South Sea Woman

Marine in audience at court-martial

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Storm Over Tibet

Co-pilot

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Androcles and the Lion

Soldier (uncredited)

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Scandal Sheet

Man on crutches (uncredited)

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The Red Badge of Courage

Corporal (uncredited)

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Rhubarb

Michael 'Shorty' McGirk (uncredited)

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The People Against O'Hara

Bit Part (uncredited)

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The Damned Don't Cry

Springboard Diver (uncredited)

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The Asphalt Jungle

William Doldy (uncredited)

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