LEE MARVIN PASSED ON THIS DAY IN 1987

It doesn’t seem possible but on this day in 1987, Lee Marvin passed away at the premature age of 63. I’m often asked if I ever met him but since I began the project in 1994  I missed out on that possibility by a number of years. Writing about the end of life and his final days proved quite a challenge, as one would imagine. Luckily, I was able to speak with seveal people close to the actor at the end of his life, incldudng son Christopher, good friend Ralh O’Hara and Marvin’s Monte Walsh co-star, Mitch Ryan who visited Marvin in the hopsital the day he died. The end result was a different, detailed, and largely overlooked version of his passing then what was reported in the media at the time. Lee Marvin Point Blank’s firsthand account of the actor’s death differs from say, the article below, published in the now defunct L.A. Herald-Examiner in both major and minor ways…
EXAMINER-OBIT1

 

EXAMINER-OBIT2

 

Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank may have noticed some minor discrepancies in the above obituary, such as the fact that Marvin never had to pay any nominal fee to Michele Triola or that his sciatic nerve was not severed from the wound he sustained on Saipan. These are of course minor comapred to the write-up done in People Magazine a week or two later. Once again, readers will not the differences….
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The tabloid-style periodical meant well but it is not known for its accuracy.

Perhaps the best way to remember the actor at the time of his passing was what he said of himself. Marvin became good friends with Dr. Harry Willner when the actor gave his Emmy-nominated performance in People Need People, based on Willner’s pioneering research with group therapy on injured veterans. Willner invited Marvin to his symposium of experts on the existence of evil. The actor was flattered and did give a brief statement at the event. As Willner writes in the intro to his book on the subject, Facing Evil, Marvin was scheduled to return, but alas, his passing made that impossible. Below is the dedication to Facing Evil…..
SALADO

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RARE PHOTO OF RALPH O’HARA, LEE MARVIN & FRIEND

In researching Lee Marvin: Point Blank, some of the most intriguing stories about the man were related to me by individuals not necessarily know by the general public. Case in point: Ralph O’Hara. O’Hara was a legend around the bars of Malibu and Santa Monica and as such, he just had to have some good Lee Marvin stories to uncover. Anyone who’s read Lee Marvin: Point Blank knows how true that is. He was also willing to relate his poignant perspective to the end of Lee’s life (pp. 243-244). I can also say that after Christopher Marvin read my book he told me that the next time I see or hear from Ralph that Chirstopher has the $20 he owes him for lending him gas money from Tucson back to Calif after after his father’s funeral in 1987. Unfortunately, I long lost contact with Ralph, who apparently moved down South after he retired from bartending.

RALPH

Wallawa Whitman National Forest Baker Oregon on set of Paint Your Wagon, July 1968. Ralph J. O’Hara, Julie Ayers, Lee Marvin

During the time I was in contact with Ralph O’Hara I constantly badgered him  for a picture, especially for one with him and Lee. I haranged him for several months but he kept insisting his lawyer would not allow it. Go figure that one out. One day, in the mail, I received the image above. Too ragged to be used for the book, I present the photo here for your perusal. Ralph, if you’re out there and can see this, I thank you once again!

Ralph’s own caption: “Wallawa Whitman National Forest Baker Oregon on set of Paint Your Wagon, July 1968. Ralph J. O’Hara, Julie Ayers, Lee Marvin.”

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