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The Only Major Actors Still Alive From Cool Hand Luke

The 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke" is easily one of the best Paul Newman movies ever, which is really saying something. Newman stars as the titular Luke Jackson, who winds up on a prison chain gang after committing a minor crime. While everyone else is afraid of the Warden (Strother Martin), Luke maintains a calm disposition, and after hearing about his mother's death, he becomes dead-set on escaping the prison to attend the funeral. 

It's an incredible anti-establishment film, as Luke's attitude flies in the face of every authority figure in the film. "Cool Hand Luke" may follow a tradition of movies getting things wrong about jail, but given Newman's performance and the filmmaking craftsmanship on display, this movie remains an all-time classic that's still worth a watch to this day. 

Sadly, Paul Newman died in 2008, and many of the other actors who made "Cool Hand Luke" a reality have since passed away. However, there are two major actors from the production still around — Joy Harmon and Lou Antonio. Newman may be gone, but Luke's rebellious attitude lives on. 

Joy Harmon (The Girl)

One of the most memorable scenes from "Cool Hand Luke" comes when the prisoners are out on the chain gang and a woman at a house nearby begins washing her car. Simply referred to as "The Girl," Joy Harmon starts getting the chain gang (and likely many people watching) all riled up as she washes a car with water and soap getting everywhere. One amusing untold truth of "Cool Hand Luke" is that Harmon had no idea the scene would be interpreted that way. She was quoted in the book "Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema" by Tom Lisanti as saying, "I was acting and not trying to be sexy. Maybe that's why the scene played so well. After seeing it at the premiere, I was a bit embarrassed."

Harmon has credits going back to the 1950s, with notable roles on "The Beverly Hillbillies," "Batman," and "Bewitched." She was married to Jeff Gourson from 1968 to 2001, and the couple has three children together. Harmon's final on-screen performance came in 1973, and she transitioned to another great passion — baking. Prior to actually opening a bakery, Harmon would bring baked good to her co-stars on film sets, and she opened her own bakery in earnest in Burbank, California, called Aunt Joy's Cakes. A film crew caught up with Harmon and documented her long-running passion in the 2013 short documentary "From Cheesecake to Cheesecake: The Joy Harmon Story."

In 2020, Harmon even released a children's book she wrote, titled "Fluffy, a Puppy Again." Harmon's career is a testament to how no one has to stick with just one thing, and there can be second and third acts in life. 

Lou Antonio (Koko)

Ol' Luke Jackson isn't the only one on that chain gang in "Cool Hand Luke." He is chained up with an assortment of other convicts, including Koko, played by Lou Antonio. Antonio was a consistently working actor from the 1960s through the 1980s, appearing in a vast variety of movies and TV shows. One of his more noteworthy guest appearances came on "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" from "Star Trek: The Original Series." Antonio plays Lokai, an alien who's black on one side of his body and white on the other. It would become one of the most recognizable and influential "Star Trek" episodes for its commentary on racism. 

Beginning in the 1990s, Antonio focused less on acting and more on directing, helming episodes for the likes of "Chicago Hope," "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and "Boston Legal." He appears to have stepped away from the limelight over the past decade, but he's kept busy. In fact, his appropriately titled memoir, "Cool Hand Lou: My Fifty Years in Hollywood and on Broadway," was published in 2017. It contains an array of anecdotes of his time in the entertainment industry and his experiences with some of the biggest names in the business, like Elizabeth Taylor and, naturally, Paul Newman. 

Lou Antonio may have taken a step back from Hollywood, but it still runs in the family. His daughter Elkin Antoniou has numerous credits as a producer and actor.