Tall and rangy, usually sporting long mangy hair, and frequently projecting a strong and intense on-screen presence, character actor Luke Askew made a potent and lasting impression playing a substantial volume of mean and fearsome villains in both motion pictures and television shows alike in a career that spanned over forty years. Askew was born on March 26, 1932 in Macon, Georgia. He was of mixed Yorksire and Scandinavian descent and first developed an interest in acting towards the end of high school. Luke attended the University of Georgia (where he initially planned on getting a B.A. in Business Administration), Mercer University, and the Walter F. George School of Law. Luke served in the U.S. Air Force in strategic air command intelligence during his college years. Following college Askew worked as a radio deejay and television announcer prior to beginning his acting career in Off-Broadway stage productions in New York City (Askew lived in Greenwich Village in the early 1960s and kept himself afloat working as a furniture mover). Luke moved to Los Angeles in 1966 and made his film debut in 1967 in “Harry Sundown.” Best known as the stranger on the highway in the hippie counterculture cult classic “Easy Rider,” Askew’s other memorable roles include the redoubtable Boss Paul in “Cool Hand Luke,” peaceful hippie commune leader Jonathan Tremaine in “Angel Unchained;” very scary and hateful as brutal low-life thug Automatic Slim in the grim revenge thriller “Rolling Thunder,” sleazy coroner Dexter Ward in “The Beast Within,” and no-nonsense Irish gypsy crime lord Boss Jack Costello in “Traveller.” Moreover, Luke appeared in a sizable number of Westerns made throughout the 1960s and 1970s: He had a rare lead role in the spaghetti Western “Night of the Serpent” and gave an especially fine performance as tough and stoic veteran cowpoke Luke in the gritty gem “The Culpepper Cattle Co.” Among the many TV series Askew popped up in throughout the years are “The High Chaparral,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Cannon,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Fantasy Island,” “T.J. Hooker,” “The Fall Guy,” “Airwolf,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Everwood,” and “Cold Case.” Luke had an excellent recurring part as creepy and dangerous polygamist Hollis Greene on the acclaimed cable TV program “Big Love.” Askew died at age 80 at his home in Portland, Oregon on March 29, 2012; he’s survived by his wife and his son Christopher, who’s a well regarded painter and tattoo artist.
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