MARY HOSFORD, LEE MARVIN’S MISSOURI TRAVELER COSTAR DIES

Mary Hosford, who’s only film was playing Lee Marvin’s love interest (!) in the largely forgotten film Missouri Traveler, passed away July 19th at the age of 93. If this info slipped under your radar amongst the passing of other more famous celebrity deaths, your not alone. It slipped under mine as well, until I did a google search for something else. There’s a reason she wasn’t heralded as an actress starring with Lee Marvin as his first romantic lead. The biggest reason being she was not known as Mary Hosford for very long, at least not according to this fascinating obituary in The Washington Post.

Poster for The Missouri Traveler (1958).

I knew she had become a Whitney shortly after the film was made, but I had know idea she was such a well known entity among the wealthiest of America’s elite! No wonder they put her one film appearance at the end of the obit.
As to the film itself, it’s one of Lee Marvin’s least remembered and has been in the public domain for decades. Kind of a shame as it’s not a bad little film, actually.
The title character is adolescent Brandon De Wilde, a young runaway at the turn-of-the-century who is sort of adopted by the citizens  of a small town. That is except for Lee Marvin’s character of Tobias Brown, the richest and meanest man in town.
The film plays out like a live-action Disney film, which includes an annoying harmonca on the soundtrack and a few of the vaudevillian type slapstick bits by the supporting cast.

The wonderful veteran ensemble of The Missouri Traveler included (L-R) Frank Cady, Brandon De Wilde, Lee Marvin, Gary Merrill and Paul Ford, as well as the likes of Kathleen Freeman, Ken Curtis, Will Wright and Eddie Little Sky (not pictured).

That aside, Marvin is great as usual and the fight scene and twist ending are very well done. That ending will NOT be given away here, even with a spoiler alert. Just watch it for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Lobby card depicting (L-R) Lee Marvin, Brandon De Wilde, Mary Hosford (later Whitney) and Gary Merrill.

As to Marvin’s attitude about the film’s extremely wealthy producer and future husband of Hosford, one Mr. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney? Well, you have to read Lee Marvin Point Blank, as Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin, recounted an anecdote that must be read to be believed and it’s one of my all-time favorites.
– Dwayne Epstein

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