SETH GREENBERG: MY 1995 INTERVIEW

Seth Greenberg, ESPN’s popular college basketball broadcaster and analyst, may not seem to be in my wheelhouse as an interview subject but back in the day, February, 1995, to be exact, that’s exactly what he was. I recently came across the piece I did on him while reorganizing some of my files and it brought back a flood of memories. Also, since “March Madness” has been cancelled due to the Corona Virus pandemic, I thought this an appropriate time to reflect on what was.
The interview with Seth Greenberg came about like this: At the time of the interview, Greenberg was the head basketball coach at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB) and managed to bring the school to the NCAA Finals for what I believe to be the first time. I was the editorial assistant for the Jewish Community Chronicle here in Long Beach while I was researching and working on Lee Marvin Point Blank in its earliest stages. My editor, Harriette Ellis, wanted me to interview Greenberg due to his involvement with the Maccabi Games, a sort of Jewish version of the Olympic Games, as well as the newly built Pyramid stadium at CSULB.
Obviously, interviewing an individual who’s claim to fame was athletic, proved to be quite a challenge to yours truly. My knowledge of such things is limited at best and other than touching base on what Harriette wanted covered, I was at a complete loss as to what else I would discuss with Greenberg. I remember that at the last minute, I decided to go with the concept of the cultural belief that generally speaking, Jews are not necessarily known for their athletic ability. Once again, for better or for worse, the result can be read below.
Oh, one more thing: due to the way in which I archived the article, the orientation of columns read straight down from one page to the next as you’ll see. Just so you know. Well, for better or for worse, here it is…..
– Dwayne Epstein

Seth Greenberg interview, page 1.

Seth Greenberg interview, page 2.

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STUART WHITMAN, COMANCHEROS COSTAR, DEAD AT 92

Stuart Whitman, who costarred with John Wayne and Lee Marvin in 1962’s The Comancheros, has died at the age of 92 from skin cancer.

Ad for THE COMANCHEROS, in which Lee Marvin’s appearance remains is not quite what it was in the movie.

The age of 92 is a ripe one for any person, but for a veteran actor know for his dark, brooding good looks to survive for that period of time, is quite an accomplishment.

In all honesty, I was not much of a fan, despite his lengthy and prolific career listed in this online obit.
An apt description was given his career in British David Quinlan’s 1981 compendium, The Illustrated Directory of Film Stars: “Black-haired, craggy-faced American leading man who played a lot of very small roles before breaking into the big time via a Fox contract. These years at the studio (1958-1965) were his only ones as a top Hollywood star, and contain his best performances. Since then, he has remained a regular, if somewhat immobile, second-line leading man.”

COMANCHEROS Pressbook press release on the then burgeoning career of Stuart Whitman.

Whitman also had a small role in the underrated Randolph Scott & Lee Marvin western, Seven Men From Now (1956). That aside, I just always thought of him as part of that generation of actors who for a brief period starred in films at the tail of the studio system, as Quinlan mentioned. Hollywood’s feudal studio system was beginning to crumble so the attempts to make superstars out of the likes of Stuart Whitman and George Hamilton was short-lived. The changing cultural landscape did allow audiences a glimpse at early roles of actors who supported the likes of Hamilton and Whitman, and would become lasting major superstars later in the 1960s and 1970s, Such as Charles Bronson, and yes, Lee Marvin.
Don’t get me wrong, Whitman was a serviceable presence in the right role, such as Pau Regret in The Comancheros — the making of which is detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Personally, despite his well-deserved Oscar-nomination for The Mark (1961), I liked him best in the gritty true-life crime drama, Murder Inc. (1960). Granted, Whitman’s all-American good looks seemed out of place among the ethnic faces, but his scene towards the end of the film in which he confronts Abe “Kid Twist” Reles (Peter Falk), may very well be Stuart Whitman’s best acting ever, in my humble opinion.
Until then, with all the social isolation in place, it might not be a bad idea to catch up on some classic films made by Whitman and others so you can judge for yourself. The ranks are clearly thinning.
– 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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