Character actor had key role in 'Easy Rider'

Character actor Luke Askew, who had a key role in “Easy Rider” as the stranger who brings Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda to a hippie commune and recently played polygamist cult leader Hollis Greene on HBO’s “Big Love,” died of natural causes in Lake Oswego, Ore., on March 29. He was 80.

Askew also played one of the prison guards, the sadistic Boss Paul, in Paul Newman starrer “Cool Hand Luke.” He had made his film debut the same year, 1967, in Otto Preminger’s “Hurry Sundown,” starring Michael Caine, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway.

In 1968 he appeared in a pair of war movies, “The Devil’s Brigade,” with Cliff Robertson and William Holden, and John Wayne’s jingoistic Vietnam effort “The Green Berets.” Askew then headed for a film representing the very opposite point on the cultural spectrum when he was cast in 1969′s countercultural “Easy Rider.”

In the 1970s the actor appeared in Westerns including “The Culpepper Cattle Co.,” “The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid,” “The Magnificent Seven Ride!” and Sam Peckinpah’s “Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid,” and he had substantial supporting roles in “Walking Tall Part II,” in Fonda’s “Wanda Nevada” and, memorably, as the thug Automatic Slim in the 1977 action thriller “Rolling Thunder.”

Askew worked more heavily in television, with guest roles on series including “Bonanza,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Police Story,” “The Rockford Files,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Quincy” and “Fantasy Island.” He also appeared in a number of telepics and miniseries, especially of a Western bent, including “How the West Was Won.” Latter TV guest credits include “Knight Rider,” “L.A. Law,” “MacGyver,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Walker, Texas Ranger” and “Everwood.”

On HBO’s “Big Love,” he recurred as Hollis Greene on 10 episodes from 2007-2010.

Later film credits include the indie film “Traveller,” “The Newton Boys” and “Frailty.”

Francis Luke Askew was born in Macon, Ga., and attended the U. of Georgia.

He is survived by his wife, Maggie; a son; a daughter from a previous marriage; and a grandson.

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