PAST BIRTHDAYS REMEMBERED…. OF THE RECENT PAST

Past Birthdays
Having just recently had another birthday (never mind which one!), I’m reminded of some recent past birthdays. One in particular was when I turned 50 and was not feeling particularly happy about it. In fact, I was downright depressed. Both my parents had passed away, my agent was not having much luck finding a publisher for Lee Marvin Point Blank and…I turned 50!
Luckily, my wonderful girlfriend suggested we go to a movie. Not just any movie, mind you, but a screening at the Academy of one of my favorite actor’s films….

Program to the birthday screening at the Academy of John Garfield’s Body & Soul.

It proved to be quite the tonic as I discovered several prominent guests were to be attendance. Film essayist Kim Morgan of Sunset Gun was there, as well as noir maven and Charles McGraw biographer Alan K. Rode, so I came prepared….

Alan K. Rode’s Charles McGraw bio.

I love what he wrote!

The best was saved for last. After the film, there was a Q&A conducted by Morgan and her special guest, John Garfield’s daughter, Julie Garfield. She was a wonderful and poignant storyteller of her father’s legacy. Pretty good actress, too. Check out her performance as Robert DeNiro’s wife in Goodfellas. Anyway, she told a marvelous story about her father’s way of dealing with the persistent FBI agents who hounded him during the Red Scare that got applause when she told it. Great stuff.
After the Q&A, she spoke briefly with the crowd from the raised stage. Due to the subject of the film I came prepared for a possibility and lo and behold……

My copy of author (now actor) Jim Beaver’s wonderful 1970s tome on Garfield.

Beaver’s autograph.

Following my chat with Jim Beaver, I found myself staring up at Julie Garfield from my place below the stage. I briefly mentioned to her that it was my birthday and she made it a terrific one. She smiled at me, knelt down, took my face in both hands and kissed me on the lips!

After kissing me, Julie Garfield signed this page in Jim Beaver’s book.

Naturally, I was in heaven. What had been a rotten birthday was capped with a wonderful evening. Who could ask for more? Some past birthdays are definitely better than others. My girlfriend Barbara and I went out to our car only to find a parking ticket on it.
Yeah, happy birthday.
P.S. a few months later my agent Mike Hamilburg and I were in negotiations with Schaffner Press for the publication of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Yep, some things ARE definitely worth the wait.
-Dwayne Epstein

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AUTHORS AS FRIENDS HAS ITS ADVANTAGES

Authors as Friends
One of the perks of being a published author is making authors as friends. Once Lee Marvin Point Blank made the light of day, I found myself becoming friends with fellow authors, especially those of the non-fiction cinema history variety. We’d meet via social media or at book signings and the result was often the bonding of kindred spirits.
Take for example Steve Stoliar. author of the wonderful book, Raised Eyebrows: My Years Inside Groucho’s House.

The cover of Steve Stoliar’s RAISED EYEBROWS, rendered by the great Drew Friedman.

We made friends on Facebook only to discover that we had more in common than our mutual interests. Turns out, Mike Hamilburg was also his agent for this great memoir and like he did with my book, Hamilburg got it sold when everybody else turned it down. Now that is an agent! Steve and I were able to commiserate about it at Mike’s funeral in 2016.

Steve’s signature when we met says it all.

By the way, Steve’s book, an amazing tale of his years working and living with the legendary Groucho Marx at the end of his life, has been optioned as a film to be directed by none other than Rob Zombie (!). The guessing game as to who will play the late-life Groucho has become the bane of Steve’s social media existence.

Another one of the ‘authors as friends’ I met via social media is the wonderfully talented and prolific, Brian Jones. We met when he backed me up on several political posts, siding with my appreciation of Hillary Clinton. I then discovered he had written about Washington Irving, George Lucas, and a bio that landed him a spot on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Dammit!), due to his worthy subject: Jim Henson.

My copy of Brian Jones’ wonderful biography, JIM HENSON.

Brian’s appropriate signature to me.

VERY much looking forward to Brian’s next project, an overdue biography on the legendary Theodore Geisel, aka Dr. Suess. It comes out May of next year and I will definitely be reading it!

Not all ‘authors as friends’ are met by yours truly via social media. The now defunct West Hollywood Book Fair invited me to be on a panel of celebrity biographers. I was lucky enough to to be seated next to Jim Gladstone, author of The Man Who Seduced Hollywood: The Life & Loves of Greg Bautzer, Tinseltown’s Most Powerful Lawyer.

Jim Gladstone’s THE MAN WHO SEDUCED HOLLYWOOD, a great read!

Jim Gladstone’s signature in my copy of his Greg Bautzer biography.

Between the audience Q&A’s, we talked about our books, got to know each other, and a few weeks later he and his wife and my fiancé and myself are going out to dinner at Long Beach’s Parker’s Lighthouse. Turns out he’s a good guy and like all the ‘authors as friends’ mentioned here, is the creator of a terrific tome that I highly recommend.

All three of the aforementioned titles have something in common with Lee Marvin Point Blank. They are all bestsellers that are well written, well researched and have fascinating subjects. Check them out for yourself or if you prefer start with Lee Marvin Point Blank and work from there. You won’t be disappointed.
-Dwayne Epstein

 

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LEE MARVIN MOVIE QUOTES: THE EARLY YEARS, PART II

Lee Marvin Movie Quotes
Writing and researching Lee Marvin Point Blank allowed me good reason to watch ALL of his films and on occasion, he proved to be the best thing to watch. Take for example his official film debut, You’re in the Navy Now (1951) with legendary actor, Gary Cooper.  Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know how he got the handful of lines he spoke in the movie and its a pretty amusing story, thanks to the chutzpah of his acquired agent, Meyer Mishkin. The very fact that he spoke on screen for the first time makes it worthy of some memorable Lee Marvin movie quotes.

Top image shows Marvin waiting to go on camera while bottom image shows hm with costars Gary Cooper and Jack Webb.

Director Henry Hathaway cast Marvin initially as an extra, allowing him to appear throughout the film as a crew member, in this case, the radio operator. Marvin later claimed him he did the voices of 5 other characters offscreen n which he actually talked to himself! Other actors also made their debut in the film, including future Marvin costar, Charles Bronson. Bronson had a bigger role in the flop later retitled USS Teakettle. Marvin’s first words on camera? “Sorry, captain. I can’t get a rise out of them.”

Another example of Marvin’s early, albeit small contribution to film was in the all-star comedy We’re Not Married (1952). Played out like an episode of Love, American Style, it told the tale of 5 different marriages discovering that the clergyman (Victor Moore) who married them was not ordained. The film boasted the likes of Ginger Rogers, Fred Allen, Eve Arden, Paul Douglas, Louis Calhern, Eva Gabor, and a young Marilyn Monroe married to David Wayne(!). The last segment starred Eddie Bracken married to Mitzi Gaynor, who is pregnant with his child but Bracken is going overseas with his Army unit. It being the 1950s, the dilemma of Bracken’s offspring not being legitimate is a major crisis. Since it is the 50s, Bracken’s buddy, Lee Marvin, informs the C.O. that, “He don’t want his kid to be no oddball.”

Marvin & Bracken in the final segment of WE’RE NOT MARRIED.

Don’t you just love that 1950s euphemism for bastard? It’s one of my personal favorite Lee Marvin movie quotes.

And then there’s The Wild One.

Marlon Brando as Johnny and Lee Marvin as Chino in the world’s 1st biker movie, THE WILD ONE (That’s cult legend Tim Carey smiling behind Marvin).

Marvin comes in the middle of the film and commits grand larceny in his scenes with then red hot 50s icon, Marlon Brando. Everything Marvin says and does in the classic is memorable, from his entrance (waving like the prom queen on his chopper as he and his gang ride into town) to his final scene sneaking out of jail when no one is looking. I was lucky to find a letter he wrote his brother before the film was cast and his take on the project is reprinted in its entirety in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Hard to pick a favorite line of his as they’re all delivered brilliantly (“Call my old lady and tell her I’m in the can! Oh, the shame of it all!”) But the one I like best is the one with cultural resonance. When Marvin tells Brando: “We miss ya, Johnny. All the Beetles miss ya.” Apparently another ‘Johnny’ liked that line, too. Any guesses?
– Dwayne Epstein

 

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