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Biography
Joy Harmon may not be too well remembered by name with only ten feature films to her credit and not that many more television appearances, but in 1967 she managed to make her mark on screen history, in a single scene that is still regarded as one of the most sexually suggestive in the history of mainstream movies. Born Patricia Joy Harmon in St. Louis, MO, in 1943, she moved with her family to Connecticut in 1946. Her father was connected to the exhibition end of the movie business and became an employee of the Roxy in Manhattan, one of the most prestigious theaters in New York. During her childhood, Harmon appeared in newsreels made by Fox Movietone News and was taken with the idea of a movie career. At 13, she was hired as an extra in The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit, an experience that only reinforced her determination to become an actress. Deciding to take advantage of her natural attributes, she entered beauty contests and began seeking out roles on stage -- she was a runner-up for Miss Connecticut and later was cast in the Broadway show Make a Million. Harmon also posed in the pin-up magazines of the pre-Playboy era, and it was as a pin-up that she was best known for many years. Harmon got a small role in Harry Foster's jukebox movie Let's Rock in 1958, but her breakthrough came after she was invited to appear on Groucho Marx's quiz/comedy show You Bet Your Life. Marx was so taken with the cheerful, outgoing, and well-endowed Harmon that he hired her to appear as one of his two assistants on his 1962 midseason replacement show Tell It to Groucho, billed as Patty Harmon. Around this same period, she also played a small role in Burt Balaban's period crime thriller Mad Dog Coll (1961). From there she moved to performances in episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, Burke's Law, My Three Sons, Batman, The Rounders, Gomer Pyle, USMC, and Bewitched through 1966, and a memorable pre-credit appearance in an episode of That Girl ("Pass The Potatoes, Ethel Merman"). With her blonde hair, eager smile, and ample bosom, she was mostly used as eye candy. As with many actresses known for their physiques, her film appearances were in projects of widely varying quality, from high-profile, big-budget productions such as David Swift's frothy sex comedy Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963) to Terry O. Morse's Young Dillinger (1965) and Bert I. Gordon's Village of the Giants (1965). The latter, in particular, took advantage of Harmon's physical attributes, as her bikini clad character is one of a group of anti-social teenagers enlarged to 50 feet tall. In 1965, she got the only starring screen role of her career, in the low-budget comedy-caper movie One Way Wahini, which co-starred Anthony Eisley (Hawaiian Eye) and Edgar Bergen -- that movie (which was shot in widescreen, no less, making any close-ups of Harmon that much more impressive) barely got any distribution, however, and soon disappeared. Joy Harmon's most lasting screen contribution came in 1967 when she was cast in Stuart Rosenberg's Cool Hand Luke. In a scene almost legendary for its suggestiveness, she portrayed a girl seen washing a car in the hot sun within a few feet of the working, straining prison work-camp inmates. Wearing a short, tight-fitting dress, she slides a soapy sponge over the car, reaching ever further and straining the fabric of her clothes, front and back, her cleavage easily visible, and sweating and getting ever wetter as she slides the sponge around and the men watching her get ever more distracted. It was to be her best moment onscreen -- a year later, Harmon married Jeff Gourson, a producer, and she retired from movies after one more big-screen appearance in Angel in My Pocket (1969), though she would appear on television through 1972 in episodes of Love American Style and The Odd Couple. Today, she is mostly remembered for Cool Hand Luke; among her three children, her son Jason is a film editor, and her older daughter Jamie is an actress.

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