MERV GRIFFIN INTERVIEWS LEE MARVIN: 1985

Merv Griffin, the former big band singer and later TV talk show host/game show producer, interviewed Lee Marvin on his show many times. Marvin was a natural on talk shows, with his rolling eyes and mugging takes to the audience.

Screen capture of Lee Marvin being interviewed by Merv Griffin, circa 1985.

Long before the advent of streaming media or video-on-demand, the public could purchase box sets of old TV shows that came from the vaults that producers would pick and choose the “Best of…” Griffin’s long running show, first on a major network and then later in syndication, boasted many fascinating guests that I often looked forward to seeing on a daily basis. In 2006, he wisely entered the arena of public consumption by doing such a box set of his interviews.

Cover of Merv Griffin’s box set.

I wasn’t particularly a fan of the show as Griffin’s interview style was a bit annoying but the guests who agreed to be on his show was often worth tuning in for. Check out the graphics on the box set to drive the point home….

Back of the Merv Griffin DVD box set listing the remarkable guest list.

I wanted to post the interview he did with Lee on this blog a while ago but unfortunately, I’m not technically proficient enough to pull that off. Luckily, via social media someone else did and it’s quite a fascinating throwback. Griffin asks Marvin about working with the likes of Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny) and Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock),  answering similarly as he did in his interview with Charles Bronson. Best of all, Griffin includes a clip from an interview he did with Marvin and Jim Brown in England while they were making The Dirty Dozen.

(L-R) Jim Brown, Lee Marvin & Merv Griffin in The Red Lion Pub in England.

Okay, enough prologue. On with the clip linked below.
Notice how I never once mentioned my award-winning NY Times Bestseller, Lee Marvin Point Blank…..until now.
-Dwayne Epstein

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CHARLIE & LEE….TOGETHER AGAIN!

Charles Bronson & Lee Marvin.

Screen grab image from the 1981 interview with Charlie & Lee.

Charlie & Lee, as in Bronson & Marvin, worked together several times in their respective careers but I can’t recall ever seeing them interviewed together..that is until now. Apparently, a local news show out of Fort Worth, Texas on NBC 5 was lucky enough to capture them together back in 1981 as they promote Death Hunt. The interviewer was Bobbi Wygant and she did her homework enough to ask some fairly intelligent questions. Case in point, knowing that they both worked with such legends as Gary Cooper and Spencer Tracy early in their careers (Lee in Bad Day At Black Rock with Tracy and Charlie in Pat & Mike as well as The People Against O’Hara), she knowingly asked them to compare the two legends. 
  Marvin was an old pro at such things as he often promoted his latest endeavors on talk shows. Bronson, on the other hand, hated being interviewed and it shows in the way he constantly fiddles with his microphone cord. It’s a shame really as he comes off as intelligent and insightful in his comments. 
Interestingly, the comments they both make about the location shooting of Death Hunt is in direct conflict to what costar Angie Dickinson told me in Lee Marvin Point Blank. She had talked to Lee about the beautiful locale and his daily response to her is definitely worth reading about. 
One other thing worth noting. Watch the entire clip below as you see Wygant do something after the interview that is akin to what William Hurt did in the movie Broadcast News (1987) that Albert Brooks discovers and upsets Holly Hunter when she finds out. I won’t spoil it if you haven’t seen the film but it’s certainly worth watching. Bronson and Marvin are still sitting there when Wygant does it which is quite bizarre. So watch below and enjoy!

– Dwayne Epstein

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THE UK TELEGRAPH ON LEE MARVIN RECENTLY

The UK Telegraph, the major newspaper of the United Kingdom, recently published a fairly lengthy article by Martin Chilton focusing mainly on the actor’s singing of “Wandering’ Star” in Paint Your Wagon (1969). The article can be found here and it’s fairly entertaining.
To his credit, writer Martin Chilton uncovered some interesting factoids I was not aware of, such as the quotes from Nelson Riddle’s son, Christopher Riddle, and a few other tidbits.

Famed photographer Bob Willoughby captured Lee Marvin with his infrared lens on location for Paint Your Wagon.

To his discredit, he also got some things obviously wrong. Normally I wouldn’t mind but since the author chose to mention me and my book, Lee Marvin: Point Blank, I think it best to set the record straight, as is my way:

Lee Marvin & Clint Eastwood early in the film also captured by Bob Willoughby.

– Marvin was never, repeat, never in the army. That is the last thing you would ever want to mix-up in the presence of a Marine. Nor are the Marines affiliated with the Navy, as one person commented. The USMC is and always has been an autonomous branch of the U.S. military.
– He also did not have his sciatic nerve severed on Saipan but NEARLY had it severed. The 13 months of convalescence was bad enough but had it been severed, he’d never be able to walk again.
– His entry into theatre wasn’t quite a lark but a calculated stumble into a series of events.
– Betty Marvin, Lee’s first wife, was not trained as an opera singer but trained in musical comedy at UCLA by MGM musical director Roger Edens. The requirements are quite different.
– The photo of Marvin and his costar from The Dirty Dozen misspells Charles Bronson as BROSNAN. Wonder how Pierce feels about that?
I’m rather surprised that the UK Telegraph didn’t bring up the urban legend about Marvin and Captain Kangaroo and revive that old chestnut like a Walking Dead zombie.
Bottom line, as always, if you want the straight, hard, and fascinating facts behind Lee Marvin’s life, career and legacy, read Lee Marvin Point Blank. Then we’ll talk.
– Dwayne Epstein

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