From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Gail Strickland (born May 18, 1947) is an American character actress. Strickland was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of Theodosia and Lynn Strickland, who owned a tire shop. She had featured roles in 1970s films such as Bound for Glory, The Drowning Pool and Norma Rae. In a memorable Drowning Pool scene, Strickland and Paul Newman are trapped in a room filling with water from floor to ceiling, stripped to their underwear, with no apparent escape. Strickland appeared on the U.S. Navy series JAG first season episode War Crimes. She played Ambassador Bartlett, the U.S. ambassador to Peru. She appeared in the pilot episode of the television series Night Court as the public defender.