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American Rambler with Colin Woodward


Sep 21, 2021

Lou Antonio is an actor and director perhaps best known for playing Koko in the 1967 classic Cool Hand Luke. But his part in that film was just one role in a long career dedicated to the stage, screen, and working behind the camera. Over the years, he met and worked with everyone from George C. Scott and Liz Taylor to Laurence Olivier, William Shatner, and Burt Reynolds.

The son of a Greek immigrant father, Lou grew up in Oklahoma, where he played baseball and football. A bad shoulder injury, however, killed his dreams of being a ballplayer. In New York, Lou studied with Curt Conway and Lee Strasberg before landing roles on TV and in film. In the 1950s and 60s, he was working with acclaimed directors such as Elia Kazan and Otto Preminger. He also met and worked with an impressive array of actors on such films as Splendor in the Grass and Hawaii

Lou takes the title of his book from Cool Hand Luke, the Paul Newman film about Lucas Jackson, a prisoner on a chain gang who will not conform to the rules. In addition to Newman, Lou played scenes with the legendary Dennis Hopper, Harry Dean Stanton, Strother Martin, George Kennedy, and Joe Don Baker. 

In part one of this two-part conversation, Lou discusses how he got from Oklahoma to Hollywood and all the interesting people he met along the way.