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Strother Martin
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Strother Martin

Strother Martin, (March 26, 1919 - August 1, 1980) was an American character actor in numerous films and television programs. Martin is perhaps best known as the prison captain in the 1967 film Cool Hand Luke, where he uttered the classic line, What we've got here is failure to communicate, which was included by Guns N' Roses in their 1990 song Civil War.

He also frequently acted alongside L.Q. Jones, who in real life was one of his closest friends, actors Paul Newman and John Wayne, and director Sam Peckinpah.

Born in Kokomo, Indiana, Martin excelled at swimming and diving, and served as a swimming instructor in the U.S. Navy during World War II. After the war, Martin moved to Los Angeles and worked as a swimming instructor in films, eventually earning bit roles in a number of films. 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.

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 Bolivian mine boss who hires the two title characters); and Henry Hathaway's True Grit (as Colonel Stonehill, a horse wrangler). Though he usually appeared in supporting roles, he had major parts in Hannie Caulder, The Brotherhood of Satan (both 1971), and SSSSSSS (1973).

Strother Martin can also be seen in Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke (1978) as the father of Tommy Chong.

Martin died of a heart attack in 1980 at the age of 61.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2006.

Strother Martin Facts

Birth NameStrother Martin Jr.
BirthdayMarch 26, 1919
BirthplaceKokomo, Indiana, USA
Date of deathAugust 1, 1980 (Thousand Oaks, California, USA, age 61)

Selected Filmography

Not available.