This Day in Twilight Zone History presents key commemorative facts about the greatest science fiction/fantasy television series of all time, presented by author Steven Jay Rubin whose latest book is The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia. Whether it’s a key performer’s birth or death, the date an episode debuted or any other related fact, This Day in Twilight Zone History presents a unique aspect of the rich history of this television series and the extraordinary team that created it.
Today, August 1, we honor the memory of character actor Strother Martin, who died on this day at the age of 61 in 1980.
Strother co-starred as Mothershed, a frontier character in "The Grave," which told the story of a bounty hunter named Connie Miller (Lee Marvin), who failed to take out wanted killer Pinto Sykes (Richard Geary), who was shot by a group of townspeople instead. Now, Mothershed is one of a group daring Connie to visit Pinto's grave.
With his trademark gravelly voice and grouchy nature, Strother Martin was a favorite of a number of western filmmakers, including John Ford and Sam Peckinpah. "The Grave" players – Strother Martin, Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleef – all reteamed in Ford’s The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
Perhaps Martin’s most famous role was the Warden in Cool Hand Luke, in which he utters the signature line while chastising Paul Newman: "What we've got here is failure to communicate."
Here's to Strother Martin!