In 1959, Tyner appeared on Broadway with Paul Newman and Geraldine Page in Sweet Bird of Youth. Duly impressed by Tyner's work, Newman brought his theatrical coworker to Hollywood eight years later to play "Boss Higgins", the sadistic prison camp guard in Cool Hand Luke (1967).
It was the first of many such roles for Tyner, who spent the next several years playing a variety of tight-lipped, vicious rural authority figures. Better known roles in this vein include "Unger", the snitching, murderous trustee in the Burt Reynolds prison comedy, The Longest Yard (1974).
Less brutal, but no less inimitable, was Tyner's interpretation of "Uncle Victor" in the 1971 cult classic, Harold and Maude. He returned to the stage in 1977, occasionally stepping before the cameras for TV movies, such as The Incredible Journey of Doctor Meg Laurel (1979), theatrical features, such as Hamburger: The Motion Picture (1986) and Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), as well as a recurring role as "Howard Rodman" on the television drama Father Murphy (1981).
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