Strother Martin

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Strother Martin
Strother Martin.jpg
Martin in McLintock! (1963)
Born
Strother Douglas Martin Jr.

(1919-03-26)March 26, 1919
DiedAugust 1, 1980(1980-08-01) (aged 61)
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills
Alma mater University of Michigan
OccupationActor
Years active1950–1980
Spouse(s)
Helen Meisels
(m. 1967;his death 1980)
Military career
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branch United States
Years of service1942-1946
RankPetty officer third class

Strother Douglas Martin Jr. (March 26, 1919 – August 1, 1980) was an American character actor who often appeared in support of John Wayne and Paul Newman and in western films directed by John Ford and Sam Peckinpah. Martin perhaps is 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." [1] The line is number 11 on the American Film Institute list of AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes.

Character actor actor who predominantly plays unusual or eccentric characters

A character actor or character actress is a supporting actor who plays unusual, interesting, or eccentric characters. The term, often contrasted with that of leading actor, is somewhat abstract and open to interpretation. In a literal sense, all actors can be considered character actors since they all play "characters", but in the usual sense it is an actor who plays a distinctive and important supporting role.

John Wayne American actor

Marion Mitchell Morrison, known professionally as John Wayne and nicknamed "Duke", was an American actor and filmmaker. He was among the top box office draws for three decades.

Paul Newman American actor and film director

Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, producer, race car driver, IndyCar owner, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He won and was nominated for numerous awards, winning an Oscar for his performance in the 1986 film The Color of Money, a BAFTA Award, a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Cannes Film Festival Award, an Emmy Award, and many others. Newman's other roles include the title characters in The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966) and Cool Hand Luke (1967), as well as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), The Sting (1973), Slap Shot (1977), and The Verdict (1982). He voiced Doc Hudson in the first installment of Disney-Pixar's Cars as his final acting performance, with voice recordings being used in Cars 3 (2017).

Contents

Early life

Martin was born in Kokomo in Howard County in north central Indiana to Ethel (née Dunlap) and Strother Douglas Martin. [2] For a short time, the Martins moved to San Antonio, Texas, but soon returned to Indiana. As a child, he excelled at swimming and diving; he was nicknamed "T-Bone Martin" because of his diving expertise. At 17, he won the National Junior Springboard Diving Championship. He served as a swimming instructor in the United States Navy during World War II and was a member of the diving team at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, 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. [3]

Kokomo, Indiana City in Indiana, United States

Kokomo is a city in and the county seat of Howard County, Indiana, United States. Kokomo is Indiana's 13th-largest city. It is the principal city of the Kokomo, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Howard county. Kokomo's population was 46,113 at the 2000 census, and 45,468 at the 2010 census. On January 1, 2012, Kokomo successfully annexed more than 7 square miles (18 km2) on the south and west sides of the city, including Alto and Indian Heights, increasing the city's population to nearly 57,000 people.

Howard County, Indiana county in Indiana

Howard County is one of 92 counties in the U.S. state of Indiana. As of the 2010 census, the population was 82,752. The county seat is Kokomo. Originally named Richardville County, it was renamed in 1844 to commemorate General Tilghman Ashurst Howard.

Indiana State of the United States of America

Indiana is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern and Great Lakes regions of North America. Indiana is the 38th largest by area and the 17th most populous of the 50 United States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th U.S. state on December 11, 1816. Indiana borders Lake Michigan to the northwest, Michigan to the north, Ohio to the east, Kentucky to the south and southeast, and Illinois to the west.

Acting career

After the war, Martin moved to Los Angeles, California and worked as a swimming instructor and as a swimming extra in water scenes in films. [3] He earned bit roles in a number of pictures and soon gained frequent character roles in films and television through the 1950s, having appeared in such programs as the western anthology series, Frontier on NBC and the syndicated American Civil War drama Gray Ghost . He was cast in 1955 as Landry Kersh in the episode "Shadow of God" on the ABC religion anthology series, Crossroads . He gave a memorable performance as a man with learning difficulties in the "Cooter" episode written by Sam Peckinpah in the first season of Gunsmoke (1955).

Western (genre) multimedia genre of stories set primarily in the American Old West

Western is a genre of various arts which tell stories set primarily in the latter half of the 19th century in the American Old West, often centering on the life of a nomadic cowboy or gunfighter armed with a revolver and a rifle who rides a horse. Cowboys and gunslingers typically wear Stetson hats, neckerchief bandannas, vests, spurs, cowboy boots and buckskins. Recurring characters include the aforementioned cowboys, Native Americans, bandits, lawmen, bounty hunters, outlaws, gamblers, soldiers, and settlers. The ambience is usually punctuated with a Western music score, including American and Mexican folk music such as country, Native American music, New Mexico music, and rancheras.

Anthology series radio or television series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode

An anthology series is a radio, television or book series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode or season. These usually have a different cast each week, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.

<i>Frontier</i> (1955 TV series)

Frontier is an American Western anthology series that aired on NBC from September 1955 to September 1956. The series de-emphasizes gunplay and focuses on the hazards of the settlement of the American West. It was only the second anthology Western series in television history, having been preceded by Death Valley Days.

Martin appeared in the first Brian Keith series, Crusader , a Cold War drama on CBS. He guest starred, as a circus tightrope walker Dooley Delaware, in the 1957 episode "High Wire" in CBS' Have Gun - Will Travel . He portrayed a henpecked soldier in a 1958 episode of the syndicated western series, Boots and Saddles and starred in a Trackdown episode "A Stone for Benny French". That same year, he played the lead in the episode "Pete Henke" of NBC's western Jefferson Drum .

Brian Keith actor

Brian Keith was an American film, television and stage actor who in his six-decade-long career gained recognition for his work in movies such as the Disney family film The Parent Trap (1961), the comedy The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966), and the adventure saga The Wind and the Lion (1975), in which he portrayed President Theodore Roosevelt.

<i>Crusader</i> (TV series) American adventure/drama series of the 1950s

Crusader is a half-hour black-and-white American adventure/drama series that aired on CBS for two seasons from October 7, 1955 to December 28, 1956. It was originally sponsored by Camel cigarettes.

Cold War State of geopolitical tension after World War II between powers in the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc

The Cold War was a period of geopolitical tension between the Soviet Union with its satellite states, and the United States with its allies after World War II. A common historiography of the conflict begins with 1946, the year U.S. diplomat George F. Kennan's "Long Telegram" from Moscow cemented a U.S. foreign policy of containment of Soviet expansionism threatening strategically vital regions, and ending between the Revolutions of 1989 and the 1991 collapse of the USSR, which ended communism in Eastern Europe. The term "cold" is used because there was no large-scale fighting directly between the two sides, but they each supported major regional wars known as proxy wars.

In 1959, Martin played Polk, with Denver Pyle as Houston, in the episode "No Place to Stop" of the CBS western series, The Texan , starring Rory Calhoun as Bill Longley. [4] In another 1959 western series, Martin was cast as Deputy Jess in the episode "Johnny Yuma" of ABC's The Rebel , starring Nick Adams. In 1960, Martin guest starred in James Whitmore's ABC crime drama, The Law and Mr. Jones . In 1962, Martin was cast as Harold Horton in "The Chocolate Cake Caper" of the CBS sitcom, Pete and Gladys , starring Harry Morgan and Cara Williams. He guest starred in Jack Lord's ABC adventure/drama series, Stoney Burke . In 1963, he was cast as Private Anton Copang in the episode "Walk Through the Badlands" of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, The Dakotas . In 1966, Martin appeared twice as "Cousin Fletch" in the short-lived ABC comedy western The Rounders , with Ron Hayes, Patrick Wayne, and Chill Wills.

Denver Pyle American actor

Denver Dell Pyle was an American film and television actor. He was known for portraying Briscoe Darling Jr. in several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, and playing Jesse Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard during 1979–1985. In many of his roles, he portrayed either authority figures, or gruff, demanding father figures.

<i>The Texan</i> (TV series) television series

The Texan is a western television series starring popular B movie actor Rory Calhoun, which aired on the CBS television network from 1958 to 1960.

Rory Calhoun actor, producer, screenwriter

Rory Calhoun was an American film and television actor, screenwriter and producer. He starred in numerous Westerns in the 1950s and 1960s, and appeared in support parts in films such as How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).

In 1967, Martin played Arizona miner Ed Schieffelin in the episode "Silver Tombstone" of the syndicated television series Death Valley Days . [5] Martin's distinctive, reedy voice and menacing demeanor made him ideal for villainous roles in many of the best-known westerns of the 1950s and 1960s, including The Horse Soldiers and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance . His lunatic turn in the latter film as Lee Marvin's character's insanely sadistic henchman, gleefully giggling in anticipation of each horrendous atrocity, remains a particularly memorable performance. Martin also excelled in comedy, playing an incompetent "Indian agent" in the John Wayne film, McLintock! (1963) and as a hapless horse trader in the 1969 film, True Grit (1969).

Arizona state of the United States of America

Arizona is a state in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the Western and the Mountain states. It is the sixth largest and the 14th most populous of the 50 states. Its capital and largest city is Phoenix. Arizona, one of the Four Corners states, is bordered by New Mexico to the east, Utah to the north, Nevada and California to the west, and Mexico to the south, as well as the southwestern corner of Colorado. Arizona's border with Mexico is 389 miles (626 km) long, on the northern border of the Mexican states of Sonora and Baja California.

Ed Schieffelin prospector who discovered the Tombstone mining district

Edward Lawrence Schieffelin (1847–1897) was an Indian scout and prospector who discovered silver in the Arizona Territory, which led to the founding of Tombstone, Arizona. He partnered with his brother Al and mining engineer Richard Gird in a handshake deal that produced millions of dollars in wealth for all three men. During the course of Tombstone's mining history, about US $85,000,000 in silver was produced from its mines.

<i>Death Valley Days</i> television series

Death Valley Days is an American radio and television anthology series featuring true stories of the old American West, particularly the Death Valley country of southeastern California. Created in 1930 by Ruth Woodman, the program was broadcast on radio until 1945 and continued from 1952 to 1970 as a syndicated television series, with reruns continuing through August 1, 1975. The radio and television versions combined to make the show "one of the longest-running western programs in broadcast history."

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 NBC's Nichols . He also had a pronounced physical and vocal resemblance to playwright Tennessee Williams and occasionally parodied him, notably in the "Baby Fat" episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show .

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, [6] Jane Alexander, Richard X. Slattery and Pepper Martin among the cast with Edwin Sherin directing. [7] [8]

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 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 horseman in the 1962 episode "The Case of the Fickle Filly", a college employee in "The Case of the Brazen Bequest" and the murderer in "The Case of the Drowsy Mosquito". In 1963, he appeared in Glynis Johns' 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 The Trees, the Bees and T. T. Flowers , an episode that took on urban invasion and the environment.

One of his last acting jobs was as host of Saturday Night Live on April 19, 1980. In one of the skits, Martin played the strict owner of a French language camp for children, based on his role as the prison captain from the film, Cool Hand Luke. He even paraphrased his most famous line from the film, "What we have here is failure to communicate BI-LINGUALLY!" In another, he played a terminally ill man who videotaped his last will and testament. During his monologue, he again did his Tennessee Williams impression. This episode was supposed to be rerun during the summer of 1980 but was pulled and replaced with another episode due to his death.

Death

Martin was married to Helen Meisels-Martin from 1967 until his death. In the last year of his life Martin had been under doctor's care for cardiac problems and he died of a heart attack on August 1, 1980, at Los Robles Regional Medical Center in Thousand Oaks, California; he was 61. [9] His widow, who was ten years his senior, died in 1997. Her ashes are interred with Martin's in Court of Remembrance, Columbarium of Radiant Dawn, at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills.

Filmography

Television

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References

  1. "Strother Martin". The New York Times .
  2. "Birth-Martin". The Kokomo Tribune. 1919-03-29. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  3. 1 2 Strother Martin. Films in Review, November 1982
  4. "The Texan". Classic Television Archive. Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  5. ""Silver Tombstone" on Death Valley Days". Internet Movie Database. February 26, 1967. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
  6. Maçek III, J.C. (2012-08-02). "'American Pop'... Matters: Ron Thompson, the Illustrated Man Unsung". PopMatters .
  7. "WorldCat". Worldcat.org. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  8. "Hollywood Beat". The Afro American. 1972-04-08. Retrieved 2012-01-22.
  9. "Local native, Strother Martin, dies". The Kokomo Tribune. 1980-08-02. Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  10. Movietone.com

Further reading