Friday Flashback #290

Anyone who has seen “Cool Hand Luke” — the classic 1967 film starring Westport’s own Paul Newman — remembers the scene in which he and his fellow chain gang members watch a very busty young woman seductively wash a car:

The cast included George Kennedy, Dennis Hopper and Wayne Rogers. No one can name the gorgeous woman, who did not even have a speaking role.

She was Joy Harmon.

And 10 years before Newman made “Cool Hand Luke,” she was a student at Staples High School.

Her 1956 yearbook writeup hinted at things to come:

Her IMDB bio says:

Born in Flushing, New York, the impressively endowed Patty Jo Harmon was discovered as a guest on “You Bet Your Life” (1950) by Groucho Marx and later was invited to work with him on “Tell It to Groucho” (1961). The TV exposure parlayed into roles in such obscure films as “Village of the Giants” (1965) and more famous fare like “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), but she was used mostly for eye candy.

With only a handful of television appearances to her name, she made a bigger career as a pin-up girl during the late 1960s and early 1970s, but she ultimately retired from acting to get married and start a family. Baking has always been a favorite pastime and she since started Aunt Joy’s Cakes. She first started sharing her treats while working at Disney Studios and runs a wholesale bakery based in Burbank, California.

Her Wikipedia page adds:

She guest-starred on several 1960s TV series, including “Gidget,” “Batman” and “The Monkees.” She appeared in a cameo role as blonde Ardice in the Jack Lemmon comedy “Under the Yum Yum Tree” in 1963. She had a role as Tony Dow’s girlfriend in the 1965–66 television soap opera “Never Too Young.”

Westporters recall 1950s Staples graduates like Mariette Hartley and Christopher Lloyd, who went on to movie and TV fame. We claim Michael Douglas too, even though he was shipped off to boarding school after Bedford Junior High.

We never remember Joy Harmon.

Though — as Paul Newman and the other men working on the chain gang quickly realized — it’s hard to forget her. (Hat tip: Alan Neigher)

22 responses to “Friday Flashback #290

  1. Alicia Merritt

    Does anyone remember Westport’s Debbie Reynolds (not the famous one)? She was the gorgeous face on many 1930s-40s women’s magazine covers. We rented her family’s house at 69 Whitney St for 3 years in the late ’80s. She was quite a character in her dotage–and we loved her for it. Her guardian was a lovely, well-known male artist from Greenwich, who would often paint in the summer in her garden.

  2. Gloria Gouveia

    “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” Strother Martin, “Cool Hand Luke”.

  3. Great find; I had not heard of Joy. Apparently that first appearance with Groucho was in 1960, not 1950; and, per a couple of different websites, Joy’s first appearance on the silver screen was in an uncredited role—I suppose as an extra—right here in town for the filming of “The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.”

  4. And who remembers ( and who would want to) that Mariette Hartley took her own life by gunshot?

    • Jack Backiel

      I’m not sure that’s correct. Her father committed suicide. I think she’s still alive.

    • D. Behrmann

      Mariette Hartley did not commit suicide. Her father did. She is living in

    • Peter Gambaccini

      Honestly, where do some of you come up with wildly inaccurate stuff like this and then post it? How irresponsible can you be? Mariette did not commit suicide and is not dead.

      • Brad Muscott

        Actually, Mariette babysat for my sister and me in the ’50s in Weston. She lived about 2 miles from us.

  5. Jack Backiel

    Would Joy have been in the same Staples 1958 graduating class as Christopher Lloyd?

    • Linda L Tesser

      No, Joy was a year ahead of Christopher Lloyd and graduated in 1957.

  6. Stacy Prince
    There’s a little film about her on her website!

  7. Helen Ranholm

    How about Gene Terney, she lived in Greens Farms and was quite famous in the forty’s and fifty’s.
    Joy Harman graduated in 1956..

    • Jack Backiel

      Helen, I think Joy was born in 1940. If I’m right, then if she graduated in 1956, she graduated at age 16.

      • Linda L Tesser

        Jack, I made a mistake, and Helen is correct. Joy did graduate in 1956. I went into and looked at the 1956 Yearbook.

  8. What car?

  9. Thanks to all who corrected my inaccuracy. My apology if I have offended any current residents of Weston

  10. Carl Addison Swanson

    Indeed, Joy washed cars behind the Crest for two summers.

  11. Bruce J Kent

    remember her well……..particularly that time in back seat of Vince DePierro’s blue Plymouth as we were returning from Maxl’s in (I think) White Plains when she breathlessly said to me; “take it easy tiger.”
    Remember it to this day.
    PS – I did (take it easy) –

  12. rosemary milligan

    this is amazing – Joy Harmon was in the same class at Staples as my step sister and spent a lot of time at our house, this would have been in 1953 or 1954. I always wondered what she was doing. I remember my mother and step father thought she was friendly and just “a nice girl” As for Gene Tierney I met her at a New Years party in the 60’s when was with her husband Howard Lee.

  13. Cool Hand Luke is my favorite film of all time. Even though I have seen it maybe 20 plus times, if I come home from a late night and it is on TBS, I will still watch it until the end. CLASSIC!!! I met Paul Newman a bunch of times and I always wanted to tell him how much I loved him in Cool Hand Luke, but just thought it wouldn’t have been cool.

  14. Jack Backiel

    There’s a Tierney Lane off South Morningside Drive.