LEE MARVIN: FACING EVIL

A key aspect in researching Lee Marvin Point Blank was discovering an appropriate theme, and in the case of Lee Marvin, that theme emerged as his screen persona’s involvement in facing evil. He knew about facing evil from his time in the USMC, of course, but it would be some time later in which he could articulate what that meant to him through his acting career.
In the early 1960s, Marvin met Dr. Harry Willner when the actor was cast in the TV drama “People Need People.” It was based on Willner’s breakthrough experiences using group therapy to help traumatized war veterans. Marvin gave a harrowing, Emmy-nominated performance. He also became good friends with Willner, and helped him launch a version of the story to help prisoners in San Quentin!
Over the years, WIllner and Marvin continued to stay in touch and on occasion, helped each other with various projects, which included helping young veterans deal with their own PTSD. Shortly before his death, Marvin agreed to speak at a conference WIllner organized on the subject of facing evil, later compiled in a book WIllner published of the same name. Below, are Marvin’s comments which Willner used as the book’s dedication. The actor was articulate, thoughtful and, as his words bear out, highly insightful when it comes to facing evil….

The cover of Dr. Harry Willner’s compendium, FACING EVIL.

Lee Marvin’s comments from his talk at Harry Williner’s conference, one of the actor’s last public appearances.

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LEE MARVIN PASSED ON THIS DAY IN 1987

It doesn’t seem possible but on this day in 1987, Lee Marvin passed away at the premature age of 63. I’m often asked if I ever met him but since I began the project in 1994  I missed out on that possibility by a number of years. Writing about the end of life and his final days proved quite a challenge, as one would imagine. Luckily, I was able to speak with seveal people close to the actor at the end of his life, incldudng son Christopher, good friend Ralh O’Hara and Marvin’s Monte Walsh co-star, Mitch Ryan who visited Marvin in the hopsital the day he died. The end result was a different, detailed, and largely overlooked version of his passing then what was reported in the media at the time. Lee Marvin Point Blank’s firsthand account of the actor’s death differs from say, the article below, published in the now defunct L.A. Herald-Examiner in both major and minor ways…
EXAMINER-OBIT1

 

EXAMINER-OBIT2

 

Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank may have noticed some minor discrepancies in the above obituary, such as the fact that Marvin never had to pay any nominal fee to Michele Triola or that his sciatic nerve was not severed from the wound he sustained on Saipan. These are of course minor comapred to the write-up done in People Magazine a week or two later. Once again, readers will not the differences….
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The tabloid-style periodical meant well but it is not known for its accuracy.

Perhaps the best way to remember the actor at the time of his passing was what he said of himself. Marvin became good friends with Dr. Harry Willner when the actor gave his Emmy-nominated performance in People Need People, based on Willner’s pioneering research with group therapy on injured veterans. Willner invited Marvin to his symposium of experts on the existence of evil. The actor was flattered and did give a brief statement at the event. As Willner writes in the intro to his book on the subject, Facing Evil, Marvin was scheduled to return, but alas, his passing made that impossible. Below is the dedication to Facing Evil…..
SALADO

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