Strother Martin Poster


Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (16) | Personal Quotes (4)

Overview (4)

Born in Kokomo, Indiana, USA
Died in Thousand Oaks, California, USA  (heart attack)
Birth NameStrother Douglas Martin Jr.
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

American character actor who achieved considerable fame in the last decade of his life. A native of Kokomo, Indiana, Strother Martin Jr. was the youngest of three children of Strother Douglas Martin, a machinist, and Ethel Dunlap Martin. His family moved soon after his birth to San Antonio, Texas, but quickly returned to Indiana. Strother Jr. grew up in Indianapolis and in Cloverdale, Indiana. He excelled at swimming and diving, and at 17 won the National Junior Springboard Diving Championship. He attended the University of Michigan as diving team member. He served in the U.S. Navy as a swimming instructor in World War II. Nicknamed "T-Bone" Martin for his diving style, his 3rd place finish in the adult National Springboard Diving Championships cost him a place on the 1948 Olympic team. He moved to California to become an actor, but worked in odd jobs and as a swimming instructor to Marion Davies and the children of Charles Chaplin. He found work as a swimming extra in several films and as a leprechaun on a local children's TV show, "Mabel's Fables." Bit parts came his way, leading to television work with Sam Peckinpah, which led to a lifelong relationship. He also found memorable roles for John Ford and by the 1960s was a familiar face in American movies. With Cool Hand Luke (1967) in 1967 came new acclaim and a place among the busiest character actors in Hollywood. He worked steadily and in substantial roles throughout the 1970s and seemed at the peak of his career when he died suddenly of a heart attack in 1980.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (1)

Helen Beatrice Meisels (18 December 1966 - 1 August 1980) (his death)

Trade Mark (1)

Often played grimy, unlikeable villains

Trivia (16)

Bitten by a snake during filming of Sssssss (1973)
Interred at Forest Lawn (Hollywood Hills), Los Angeles, California, USA, in the Court of Remembrance, #G62420.
Did an episode of the The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961) called "Baby Fat" in which he portrayed a playwright based on Tennessee Williams in 1965. Fifteen years later while hosting Saturday Night Live (1975), he admitted during the monologue that because of that part, many times he was actually mistaken for the famous playwright.
Frequently cast alongside Paul Newman, in Cool Hand Luke (1967), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Slap Shot (1977) and several others.
Frequently co-starred with L.Q. Jones, who in real life was one of his closest friends.
No relation to Dewey Martin although erroneously claimed as such in some sources.
Interviewed in "Bad at the Bijou" by William R. Horner (McFarland, 1982).
He collaborated with friend and filmmaker J.D. Feigelson on dialog in the screenplay for the cult film Dark Night of the Scarecrow (1981). Feigelson was writing the the film to star Strother, but before it could be set for production he passed away. Charles Durning replaced Martin in the lead role of Otis P. Hazelrigg. One of the memorable lines in the film was Martin's contribution: "He's thirty-three years old, Mrs. Ritter, he's physically mature.".
Appeared in six movies with John Wayne: The Horse Soldiers (1959), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), McLintock! (1963), The Sons of Katie Elder (1965), True Grit (1969) and Rooster Cogburn (1975).
Played a character named Stoner in two unrelated movies: Sssssss (1973) and Up in Smoke (1978).
The press dubbed him as "The Andy Devine for the Age of Anxiety" and "A Gabby Hayes without Honor.".
The name Strother is old Teutonic for 'river.'.
In 1936 he won the National Junior Sringboard Division Championship at age 17. He never won the adult championship, finishing second in 1944 and third in 1946. Although he barely missed making the 1948 Olympic Team, he did gain access to Hollywood by giving swimming lessons to Marion Davies at San Simeon and the children of Charles Chaplin. He was hired as a swimming extra in films between 1948 and 1950 including The Damned Don't Cry (1950).
In 1970 the First Annual Strother Martin Film Festival was held at Chicio State College in California.
During the 1950s and 1960s he was active in Arthur Kennedy's Stage Society, along with Gary Cooper, Akim Tamiroff, Jeff Corey, Tony Curtis, Mildred Dunnock, Anthony Quinn and Patricia Neal.
Once described the characters he played in westerns as "prairie scum".

Personal Quotes (4)

Age is as much an asset for character players as it is for good wine. Human experiences, both good and bad, leave their marks on one's face and bearing. A few lines on the face and a few gray hairs coupled with the idiosyncrasies an actor adopts throughout life help out round out the actor's personality. So far as I'm concerned, the older a character actor gets, the firmer his position is.
[interviewed in March, 1980] The character actor's struggle for survival is a bitch today. There was a time when people like me would have been approached, at least, to be under contract to the studio and farmed out picture by picture. It's true that a man like myself does not know after this movie--this may be the last movie I ever do in my life. I have no assurance.
[Three days before his death] No man can achieve immortality. We don't live for what comes after we are dead, but for what we can achieve in this life - the only chance we have.
[on his career] Maybe there has been some diamond dust and gold glitter in my life . . . but among so much shit, it didn't have much luster.

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