FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK

Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQs), has become a popular aspect to most websites, and this one dedicated to underscore my book Lee Marvin Point Blank, is now no exception. Don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it until now but a recent transaction with a friend on social media gave me the idea. I’ve since amassed enough frequently asked questions I thought this a good time to address them. So, with that in mind…

Cover of the trade paperback that includes a quote from Leonard Maltin and a starburst heralding some exclusive additions.


1. How did you come to write about Lee Marvin?
I get this one a lot. Short answer is that of course, I’m a fan. Long answer is slightly more involved. Marvin is just one of my personal favorite actors that include the likes of James Cagney, Burt Lancaster and most of all, Steve McQueen. I’ve read a lot about all three actors so when the biography entitled STEVE McQUEEN: PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN REBEL came out in 1994, I had to read it. Having done so, I decided to try to contact the author, Marshall Terrill, to discuss a few aspects of his book. Much to my surprise, he responded and when he was next in L.A., we met up. A casual conversation turned into a friendship that exists to this day. Because I had a journalism background, early on he asked me if I ever considered writing a biography? I responded, “Yeah, you wrote it!” Since Marshall had a marketing background, he then proceeded to discuss possibilities based on what would sell and who has not had a definitive bio done about them. Enter Lee Marvin. I told him I’d think about it and he persisted so that over time I became fascinated with the research I was uncovering. Eventually (almost 19 years later!) it came into existence.

My copy of Marshall Terrill’s book that he inscribed: “It’s been a real pleasure to meet someone with the same zeal that I do for Steve McQueen. You really know your stuff. I’d really like to see you pursue a book on Lee Marvin. The timing is right and there’s no one better qualified to write it. Please keep in touch as I think you are incredibly well-versed in movies, which makes for great conversation. Take care, Best wishes, Marshall Terrill  2/15/94.



2. Did Lee Marvin ever attend any USMC reunions, why or why not? 
According to Lee’s first wife, Betty, he did maintain contact with his war buddies but didn’t particularly care to go to any reunions. Despite his sincere efforts towards promoting and helping the Marines throughout his life, the idea of reunions was something he was not fond of being involved in. As he told Johnny Carson one night, “I went to a few reunions but after awhile, you get bored hearing the same old war stories.”

Lee Marvin happily hands over a check for a USMC charity in support of his favorite branch of the service.



3. Why is there no mention of what Lee’s daughters are doing and why didn’t you interview them?
There is mention of what his daughters, Courtenay, Cynthia and Claudia have been doing in the bibliography entitled Posthumous Events Related to Lee Marvin. As to interviewing any of them, I did speak with each of them but none of them wanted to go on the record about their father which of course, is their choice and I respect it. Luckily, their brother Christopher did agree to be interviewed as well as write the poignant Afterword to the book.

Pictured here at Cynthia’s 1982 wedding are (L-R) Christopher Lamont Marvin, his sister Courtenay Lee Marvin, Lee Marvin, Cynthia Louise Marvin Michaels, Betty Marvin, and youngest of the four siblings, Claudia Leslie Marvin.


4. Is the story of Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) saving Lee’s life during WWII true? My agent, the late Mike Hamilburg, once called me up and asked me this as a friend of his said it was true. I told him exactly what I had written in a blog later on about the same subject involving such urban legends as found here. In other words, despite it’s nagging persistence, it is not now nor has it EVER been true. 

5. Who were Lee Marvin’s favorite and least favorite actor to work with in his career? 
Marvin was a professional and veteran of countless performances so he basically learned to get along with pretty much everybody he worked with. If he had a favorite actor my guess would be Toshiro Mifune, his costar in Hell in the Pacific (1968), of whom his admiration was immeasurable. 

At the press conference for the Japanese premiere of HELL IN THE PACIFIC, Marvin admires Toshiro Mifune as he fields a reporter’s question.

As to who was his least favorite actor to work with, well, that question got answered a while back but still worthy of this FAQ blog in terms of symmetry. The answer can be found here.

6. How come your book doesn’t have a filmography?
Ahh, but it does. It’s just not done in the obvious way of previous film biographies. There’s one of several bibliographies in the back of the book, and in the one entitled Important Dates in the Life of Lee Marvin ALL of his film (and most TV) appearances are listed. 

7. When does your next book come out and what’s it about?
Been avoiding this one for a quite a while now. The answer is….well, that will be in the next installment of Frequently Asked Questions *wink, wink*

There you have some of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve come across over time. Naturally, if any of your questions were not addressed, by all means feel free to ask them here and I’ll do my best to answer them. Thanks!
– Dwayne Epstein

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REMEMBERING CHRIS MARVIN ON WHAT WOULD’VE BEEN HIS 61ST BIRTHDAY

This date, November 22, is understandably remembered as the anniversary of the death of President John F. Kennedy. This year makes it especially noteworthy as it is the 50th anniversary of that sad event, but it is also the date of Christopher Marvin’s birthday. No where near the same scale, but for a relative handful of people, it is equally noteworthy as the first birthday of Christopher’s without his presence. His mother, sisters, friends and loved ones must all endure this event somehow while the rest of our country mourns the passing of the president. These dual events effected Christopher most of his life, beginning with his 10th birthday, which is recounted in Lee Marvin Point Blank in a possibly apocryphal tale. Either way, Christopher will be missed tomorrow by those who knew him, including yours truly. However, like the passing of President Kennedy, he will be remembered in the most loving way by those who knew him and when the day is over, warm memories will remain.

Below are several previously unpublished pictures from the collection of Betty Marvin.
First, Betty is photographed by Lee holding newborn Christopher for a picture sent to Grandfather Monte. Lee wrote on the back, “Looks like you Pop! Christopher at 10 days…”

Next, Father and son in a picture for which Lee wrote on the back, “Man to man talk. Christopher at 2 months.”

Christopher wrote in the Afterword to Lee Marvin Point Blank, “My father could be very stern at times, and yet sensitive and tender, kissing me on the lips with, ‘How goes the battle?’and delivering one liners to explain himself.”

Father and son again, this time taken by Betty around the time Lee was doing M Squad.

A young teenaged Christopher (far left) with his sisters (L-R) Claudia, Cynthia and Courtenay as their father visits during one of their parents’ trial separations.

chris1chris2chris3chris4chris5

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PICTURES FROM CHRISTOPHER MARVIN

Aside

In the course of putting together Lee Marvin Point Blank, especially the final stages, the most enjoyable, and in some ways the most difficult part, was choosing what pictures to use. It was truly an embarrassment of riches to choose from as I had amassed quite a collection of images and graphic material over the years from several generous sources. Almost all of the images seen on the blog are examples of what did not make the cut for one reason or another but are finally seeing the light of day here. One of the best sources was Lee’s son, Christopher, who, after much cajoling, allowed me to copy some of those images. As a lasting tribute to him I include some of the ones that didn’t quite make the cut but can see below:

wedding
The last time the entire Marvin family reunited. Pictured here at Cynthia’s 1982 wedding are (L-R) Christopher Lamont Marvin, his sister Courtenay Lee Marvin, Lee Marvin, Cynthia Louise Marvin Michaels, Betty Marvin, and youngest of the four siblings, Claudia Leslie Marvin.

Lee &chris

allkidsshovel

 

Christopher is shown visiting his father at his Tucson, Arizona home in the late 70s.

 

 

 

 

 

Christopher, sporting a mustache and 2 of his sister (Claudia & Cynthia) visit their dad.

 

 

 

Helping his father work the cacti Lee was so proud of, Christopher poses with him on his dad’s property. Just before the picture was snapped, According to Christopher, Lee grabbed the shovel and said, “Give me that! Let everybody think I was the one working.”

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