BETTY MARVIN, JULY 16,1928- MARCH 9, 2018

Betty Marvin, first wife of Lee Marvin and mother of his four children, passed away from complications following the flu just a few months short of her 90th birthday. When I began working on Lee Marvin Point Blank and throughout the entire 20 year journey to its publication, she was the single most important individual source in getting it see the light of day. It’s for that reason I loathe writing such blog entries as this but it’s also the reason why I feel it must be done.
I don’t recall exactly how I was able to come in contact with her but my best guess would be through her former brother-in-law, Robert Marvin. At one point, I was with Robert in Woodstock, NY, when I needed to speak with Betty Marvin on the phone. While she and I spoke, Robert eventually asked for the phone. When I gave it to him, I witnessed Robert, who had not spoken to Betty in decades, poignantly apologize to Betty for their lack of contact and they way he had treated her when they had been in contact. I never asked what that was in reference to but I was genuinely moved to hear Robert speak the words. Betty Marvin was the kind of a person that could elicit such words.

Newlyweds Lee and Betty Marvin.

That first night I met Betty Marvin, way back in 1994, remains a cherished memory. Prepared for the interview as best as possible, I drove up to Montecito from Long Beach with the intent of being as professional as I knew how. That didn’t last long. Upon meeting her, I was completely disarmed by her frankness, hospitality and good humor. In no time at all it seems the initial interview went into the wee hours, making it too late to drive back home for the night. She graciously offered me her guest bedroom and the next morning we went to her storage facility where she was even more gracious in allowing me access to her family photos and years with her ex-husband. Many of those never-before-seen photos ended up in the book.

A photo from her own book depicts Betty’s home in Santa Barbara County where she graciously welcomed me. On the left side of the home towards the back is where her son Christopher planted cactus from cuttings taken from his father’s original plants.

I should also point out that during that first long confab, she constantly asked if I wanted anything to eat or drink. When I eventually acquiesced, she put out a wonderful spread of homemade goodies and uncorked some wine. As the wine flowed through the night, so did the laughter and on occasion some tears.
We stayed in contact regularly after that first get-together and even went to the movies and had dinner on occasion. There are no amount of positive adjectives that can best describe what a wonderful person I discovered her to be. Once she put her faith and trust in what I was working on, she could not be more helpful. She gave me additional contacts, the aforementioned photos, as well continuing insights and anecdotes I could never have gleaned from anyone or anywhere else.
Whenever I was enroute to northern California to visit my girlfriend’s family, we always stopped by and saw Betty on the way, who offered such surprising delicacies as hearty homemade bread and delicious wild mushroom soup on our journey. She said the recipe  came from her good friend, Julia Child….

Betty Marvin (left) with good friend Julia Child depicted for one of her wonderful Xmas cards.

My favorite thing she managed to do was get her son Christopher to agree to go on the record with me. Reticent at first, I met Christopher at a going away party for his mother as she was about go on an around the world excursion all by herself…in her 70s! Betty got both of us together during the party by rounding us up in the midst of the revelry and said to her son, “Now you go in the next room with this man and you talk to him!’ Since it was her party, Christopher sheepishly agreed and another great exclusive (and friendship) was put on the record.
As the worldwide trip can attest, Betty was also quite a lover of life. She painted, sculpted, got her pilot’s license, created biodomes in Mexico and more, all while most people were languishing in retirement. Just an amazing woman! When she was considering writing her own memoir (Tales of a Hollywood Housewife) she asked me if she thought it best to use her own name in a straight forward account of her life or a fictitious telling and non de plume. I told he she should call herself “Mrs. James Coburn.” We both got a kick out of that.

Betty Marvin’s own account of her life, which is still very much available and HIGHLY recommended!

I have so many wonderful memories of Betty I can keep this one blog entry going forever. Suffice to say writer’s cramp makes that idea rather prohibitive but on occasion, when the mood strikes, I will revisit some of those memories here once more. In the mean time, below are several more images from her book and other images that may show just a portion of what a terrific lady she was.
I’ll miss her dearly but the memories are intact and will be as long as I’m alive. I’m pretty sure the same can be said by anyone who knew her. So long, Betty. Your time here helped change and enlighten many a life. I know it did mine.
– Dwayne Epstein

Betty photographed by Lee holding their ten day old son, Christopher.

Typical Xmas card Betty sent me and her friends a few years back.

At Betty’s book signing in her Santa Barbara home, her close friend tab Hunter agreed to sign my copy on the page pictured above.

 

 

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HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK!

As the title says, happy holidays from Lee Marvin Point Blank!
Lee Marvin: Point Blank by Dwayne Epstein (cover)
Although it’s already well into December, it’s still not too late to order your copy in its various formats listed below for yourself, for a family member, or good friend who is a Marvin fan, or just wants to know more about him and his fascinating life. I’ve always thought of a book as the perfect gift for someone, as it’s useful and relatively inexpensive compared to other items you can get. As Steve Allen said to me when I interviewed him back in 1997: “I will never understand why people complain about the cost of books. It’s still cheaper than a bottle of good liquor and lasts a hell of a lot longer.”
Even if you already have a copy — and thank you if you do — it’s not too late to consider it as a Christmas or Hannukah gift (Dec. 12th-20th) this year. Don’t let the fact that it’s been out for a while dissuade you, as it’s still selling pretty well. In fact, just a few months ago, the Kindle squeaked into Amazon’s Top 100….

Amazon’s List of Top 100 biographies, Sept. 2017.

Amazon ad for Lee Marvin Point Blank recently sent via e-mail.

Amazon has also taken to continue advertising the title among similar books, which is a good thing… and quite surprising for a four year old title!
As to the formats, they are below and links are included for purchase online via both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Amazons link are in boldface blue in the heading, while I placed the Barnes & Noble links at the end of each listing….
Hardcover: Still very much available and in stock as a new title. Includes 2 separate photo sections placed appropriately in the text, with most of them never having been published before. Cool & classic dust jacket, too, makes for a great holiday morning surprise, all designed by graphic design wizard Jake Kiehle! (Barnes & Noble)
Trade Paperback: Includes all of the text as the hardcover, as well as the photos, but is compiled in one section not two, as is common for trade paperbacks. There are extras, such as an interview with yours truly about the book and topics for discussion.  (Barnes & Noble)
E-book: Kindle or Nook: Amazon’s Kindle has proven to be quite popular so there must be something to it. I haven’t seen it myself but it sells more in that format than any other. Personally, I think it’s good thing as my agent, Mike Hamilburg, and publisher Tim Schaffner worked it out for me to get a larger percentage of the royalty in that format, so who am I to complain? (Barnes & Noble’s Nook)
By the way, the title is also available online as an Apple iBook, and at Powell’s BooksBooks-a-Million, and IndieBound, locating your favorite neighborhood bookstore by zip code.
And so, there you have it. An easy way to get the perfect gift for a loved one without the hassle of going to the mall. Of course, if you’d like to, the book is still available there, as well. If they don’t have it, demand it as your right as consumer!
As Christopher Marvin once told me, whenever he got anxious as a child for an upcoming event, his father advised him, “Relax, kid. We all get to Christmas at the same time.” Well, it is upon us and to one and all I wish you each happy holidays!
– Dwayne Epstein

Have a happy holiday season from Lee Marvin Point Blank…OR ELSE!

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JIM JARMUSCH AND THE SONS OF LEE MARVIN

Picture this: I’m in the earliest stages of researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, standing in the middle of the public library, when I read the Film Comment article written by director Jim Jarmusch that reveals the first mention I’ve ever heard concerning the Sons of Lee Marvin. I was still slightly on the fence at the time about whether I should undertake the project at all, that is unti I read Jarmusch’s article.
Being a lifelong film buff I had read much about the legacy of film stars following their passing. The cult surrounding stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, James Dean and others are well know to myself and the general public. Such reverence is often shown via film revivals, books and other venues. However, in all the years I have encountered such things I have never encountered anything as what Jarmusch talks about in his unveiling of the Sons Of Lee Marvin. It literally made me laugh out loud when he retold the anecdote concerning fellow member Tom Waits and the real son of Lee Marvin. I was shushed by the librarian and warned if I repeat the guffaw I’d be asked to leave. I acquiesced to the glares and stares of the other patrons but figured in my head, what the hell, it was worth it. My appreciation of Marvin expanded and my curiosity deepened. Quite simply, the more I found out about him, the more I liked him.
This article, by the way, was part of series in Film Comment in which film makers were asked to list their “Guilty Pleasures,” films they know are bad but they like anyway and with a given reason. Jarmusch dedicates one 10th of his entire list to his favorite Marvin films! So, without further ado, below is the original article that helped pushed me over the edge into dedicating myself to researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Oh, and by the way, the story about Waits and Christopher Marvin is pure b.s. but sounds great, doesn’t it? If you want to know the truth, from Christopher Marvin himself. you gotta read Lee Marvin Point Blank
 – Dwayne Epstein

The original article by Jim Jarmusch in Film Comment.

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