CLINT WALKER’S PASSING ONE YEAR AGO

Clint Walker’s passing occurred a year ago and as such, karma had a say in such things. I was browsing at a used bookstore a day or two ago and came across a copy of SCREEN WORLD 1959, the annual journal of films on a given year. I was missing that particular one so I picked it up, opened it to peruse and came across this page first…..

First page I came to in SCREEN WORLD 1959.

 

Pretty amazing timing considering I came across it almost a year to the day of Clint Walker’s passing. Consequently, he’s been on my mind a lot, lately. At the time of Clint Walker’s passing last year, I did blog about it. Since then, some interesting things have transpired.
To start with, I was most fortunate to meet Walker the first time at the the Beverly Garland Hotel (GREAT lady, by the way) at one of her Hollywood Collector Shows back in the 1990s. He agreed to be interviewed for what eventually would become Lee Marvin Point Blank and his stories on making The Dirty Dozen (1967) and the follow-up of sorts, Small Soldiers (1998), were priceless! His anecdotes on Trini Lopez on both projects are unintentionally hilarious.

Clint Walker tangles with Lee Marvin in THE DIRTY DOZEN.

A few years back I had the idea of interviewing him again, but this time it would be about his entire career for Filmfax Magazine. I discovered the best way to contact him was to connect with Deb Elsie, who handled his online presence. Once we spoke and she then contacted him, I took no small amount of pride, in this exchange from her: “He told me to give you his phone number and in all the years I’ve known him, he’s never told me to give someone his phone number. …..Dwayne, I’m super excited about this!!! Especially since it wasn’t that long ago Clint said he wasn’t interested in doing any more interviews. I know he trusts you and so anything you need, I’m here to help.”
The interview went well, I sent it to Filmfax, and liked the response it garnered upon publication. When it came out, I received much praise from his fans via social media and something I never expected. Author and historian Jeff Thompson read it and contacted me about something Clint Walker had said concerning a TV-move he made for Dan Curtis. Curtis, the creator of the cult TV show Dark Shadows (among MANY other things), was chronicled in several books by Thompson who had not known Walker’s input on the project entitled, Scream of the Wolf, that is until he read my interview. He contacted me….

Original TV Guide ad for Dan Curtis’ SCREAM OF THE WOLF (1974).

“I am finishing up the revised second edition of my first book THE TELEVISION HORRORS OF DAN CURTIS for McFarland. I would like to quote your interview in my book thusly:

Jeff Thompson’s original work on Dan Curtis to be updated and released later this year with quotes from your truly’s interview with Clint Walker.

In a 2017 Filmfax interview, Clint Walker (1927-2018) revealed that he almost did not get the part. He explained, They wanted Jack Palance for it, but he wanted more money, and they didn’t want to pay it. So I said to my agent, “Let me talk to them.” I wanted to be the heavy. I said, “If you get Jack Palance, he’s a very fine actor and all, but people are going to know immediately that he’s the bad guy. With me, they’re not going to think of me in those terms until the last minute.” [Scream of the Wolf] was interesting.”

It just goes to prove you never know how one’s work may be perceived, or for that matter, live on beyond inception. I look forward to seeing Jeff’s book, and when it comes to work living on beyond inception, few have done so as well as the canon of work of Clint Walker. He was often a good guy on small and big screen alike but more importantly, he was a good guy in real life. Farewell Cheyenne.
-Dwayne Epstein

Clint Walker as Cheynne Bodie, The way he would want to be remembered. R.I.P.

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“SOPRANOS'” MOVIE FEATURES LEE MARVIN MARQUEE

The Sopranos’ movie, entitled The Many Saints of Newark, is currently shooting in Newark and in order to make it period correct for 1967, it features a well placed movie marquee. If you can’t see the images in the link in the next paragraph, this might help….

Movie marquee in The Sopranos movie that’s set in 1967.

Same marquee from a different angle.

 

According to the Central Jersey News website, the film concerns how young Tony Soprano came to be during the tumultuous Newark Riots. In order to make it period correct, film makers had the local theater display the most popular film of the summer of 1967, The Dirty Dozen. Matter of fact, it was the single most financially successful film in MGM history at the time, in no small part due its popularity in urban areas, such as Newark.
By the way, this upcoming film is not the first time a Lee Marvin movie has been featured in a film. Martin Scorsese, a certified Lee Marvin fan, used a well-known Marvin film in his 1973 classic, Mean Streets. Further proof of Lee Marvin’s popularity in urban environs. Check out the screen capture below of Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro in the lobby after viewing a screening of The Searchers….

Check out the poster for an upcoming film on the left as shown in Scorsese’s MEAN STREETS.

It’s not the first time Scorsese has referenced Lee Marvin in a film, either. His debut film, Who’s That Knocking at My Door (1967), has an even better reference in dialogue by again, Harvey Keitel. Pretty impressive dialogue, too. For the reason for the dialogue as well as its actual contents, look no further than Lee Marvin Point Blank, your one-stop Lee Marvin reference tool. Matter of fact, the last chapter is chock full of such pop culture Lee Marvin references. However, if after reading Lee Marvin Point Blank,  you know of any other such references I may have missed, feel free to comment here. Thanks!
-Dwayne Epstein

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RUDI GERNREICH & LEE MARVIN

Rudi Gernreich, the influential fashion designer of the 1960s, had an interesting connection to Lee Marvin. I bring this up as the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles begins its exhibition of Gernreich’s work  tomorrow, May 9th, thru September 1st.

It may seem strange of course for Rudi Gernreich and Lee Marvin to even be mentioned in the same breath but there is indeed a connection. The designer, famous for many things (most notably the daring topless swimsuit of the 1960s), was also friends with Lee Marvin’s first wife, Betty. According to her wonderful memoir, Tales of a Hollywood Wife,  she almost became the model for that topless swimsuit but instead opted for something else. As she explained in her book….

The cover of Betty’s Book, TALES OF A HOLLYWOOD HOUSEWIFE.

“I was at a cocktail party given by my good friend, fashion designer, Rudi Gernreich. He was introducing his line of rather shocking black knit bathing suits, and early in the evening he asked me to model one for the guests. I ducked into his bedroom and put the the thing on, but I couldn’t imagine what he was thinking.
“Come on, Rudi, I look like my grandfather in this,” I said, posing in the skimpy, tight suit with holes the size of silver dollars. The reflection in the mirror of my small breasts, narrow hips, and long, thin legs was confirmation.
“Wrong,” said Rudi definitively. “You have the body this suit was made for.”
[I said] “You’ve got to be joking.” But he wasn’t.
“Maybe I should give you the topless one to wear!”
“Not on your life,”  I told him, “But, okay, just for this evening I’ll model.”
[…..] Lee also liked  the way I looked in Rudi’s clothes. He thought I had great style. One evening he told me he’d seen me on Wilshire Boulevard. “You looked so damned good. I thought, What a beautiful woman. I’ve got to check her out. I drove up along side the car and there you were — my own wife!”

Betty also recounted how Gernreich helped her enter the world of high fashion, resulting in her pioneering effort to bring haute couture to Rodeo Drive. She dubbed the boutique Paris V for the five French designers she brought to Beverly Hills: Christian Dior, Lanvin, Guy Larouche, Jacques Heim, Jean Desses. The boutique would also become an important factor in her husband’s TV & film career, but not the way she had envisioned it. For the details on that bittersweet story, you have to read Lee Marvin Point Blank….
– Dwayne Epstein

The facade of Betty Marvin’s boutique, PARIS V.

Lee Marvin (far left) and Betty Marvin (far right) entertain guests following the opening of her Paris V Boutique.

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