Strother was the actor who spoke, arguably, the most memorable line in 60s cinema, “What we’ve got here, is failure to communicate”. Portraying a southern prison warden, he had just knocked Paul Newman down into the dirt in “Cool Hand Luke”. He often worked with Newman and also John Wayne. Sam Peckinpah and John Ford used him whenever they could. He was my favorite character actor and I miss him. Today William Sanderson, the toy maker in “Bladerunner”, mayor in “Deadwood” and sheriff in “True Blood” reminds me of Strother. He can be bad and yet he has heart and we care. I’m painting William prominently into a mural for the Bob Hope Patriotic Hall in Downtown LA.
Thank you Grady. I think this mural carries with it something of the spirit of the 60s. It was stream-of-consciousness, very personal and right on the street. I feel good about it’s survival all these many years and I am thankful that the neighbors protect it from the vandals as much as they do. So many of them grew up with it and they consider it a part of their lives.
Hi John, Your paintings are fantastic! I am also eventually going to add to Open Museum but can’t seem to find the time. It’s a great place to show and see good art. Yes, I knew Strother during the time he worked on Sssss.We were friends between 1971 and 1980, when he died. He and his wife Helen lived near Malibu Lake and I used to visit them there.
Wow. I of course know of you and your work but had NO IDEA there was a Strother Martin mural. Myself, I didn’t really know of the guy until I saw this weird made for t.v. movie in the 70’s called “Sssssss.” It was about some crazy backwoods guy (Martin) turning people into snakes or merging snake and man, something like that. He worshipped the animals and ends up getting bit by a king cobra that he takes out toward the end of the film. Since then I started noticing him in all that was more legit.
Strother Martin Monument 1971
Kingsley Drive at Fountain Avenue in Hollywood
Painted in 1971 with additional elements added during 1972.