MERV GRIFFIN INTERVIEWS LEE MARVIN: 1985

Merv Griffin, the former big band singer and later TV talk show host/game show producer, interviewed Lee Marvin on his show many times. Marvin was a natural on talk shows, with his rolling eyes and mugging takes to the audience.

Screen capture of Lee Marvin being interviewed by Merv Griffin, circa 1985.

Long before the advent of streaming media or video-on-demand, the public could purchase box sets of old TV shows that came from the vaults that producers would pick and choose the “Best of…” Griffin’s long running show, first on a major network and then later in syndication, boasted many fascinating guests that I often looked forward to seeing on a daily basis. In 2006, he wisely entered the arena of public consumption by doing such a box set of his interviews.

Cover of Merv Griffin’s box set.

I wasn’t particularly a fan of the show as Griffin’s interview style was a bit annoying but the guests who agreed to be on his show was often worth tuning in for. Check out the graphics on the box set to drive the point home….

Back of the Merv Griffin DVD box set listing the remarkable guest list.

I wanted to post the interview he did with Lee on this blog a while ago but unfortunately, I’m not technically proficient enough to pull that off. Luckily, via social media someone else did and it’s quite a fascinating throwback. Griffin asks Marvin about working with the likes of Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny) and Spencer Tracy (Bad Day at Black Rock),  answering similarly as he did in his interview with Charles Bronson. Best of all, Griffin includes a clip from an interview he did with Marvin and Jim Brown in England while they were making The Dirty Dozen.

(L-R) Jim Brown, Lee Marvin & Merv Griffin in The Red Lion Pub in England.

Okay, enough prologue. On with the clip linked below.
Notice how I never once mentioned my award-winning NY Times Bestseller, Lee Marvin Point Blank…..until now.
-Dwayne Epstein

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FASHION TRENDS & LEE

According to first wife Betty Marvin: “Lee’s screen appeal in a way was a lot like Humphrey Bogart, except that Lee was actually much better looking than Bogart.”

Fashion trends may seem an unlikely subject for a blog promoting Lee Marvin Point Blank. Choice of firearms may seem a more likely subject. However, based on what several folks have told me over the years about the man, fashion trends is a subject that does indeed deserve some undo recognition.
For example, Lee’s first wife, Betty Marvin, told me, “Lee, of course, had a great body and looked great in clothes. Lee really had great style. His social wardrobe was just a knockout. We both used to love to dress up. He was very handsome….”

Betty Marvin (left) with husband Lee (bottom right) dressed approriately for a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre Party.

 

A more recent example came from a friend via social media, Bill Consolo, who recently recounted this memory from his mother:

“My mom was out to dinner with friends at the now long gone Frascati, on the corner of Wilshire and Rodeo Drive. Of course there was a restaurant and a bar and the way mom told it to me was that she noticed Lee Marvin at the bar all alone. Mom knew who he was immediately because as she said when you saw him, he was just as you saw him on the screen. She said he was tall and lean and a very good looking man. What stuck out to her was that he was dressed in blue jeans, cowboy boots, and a pressed white linen dress shirt. Remember this was still the 1960s. My mom was well traveled at these places and knew plenty of celebrities but she said Lee stuck out in Beverly Hills like a sore thumb because she had never seen a man dress like that. Mind you, my mom thought there was nothing wrong with it either, because he looked so damn handsome.”

Backstage after winning his Oscar, Lee wore the requisite formal attire, but topped it off with the then fashionable chevron tie.

Having partied all night after his Oscar win, the next morning Lee held an impromptu press conference at LAX on the way back to the London set of THE DIRTY DOZEN, but still managed to look fashionable in boots, khakis, sport coat and bandana tie.

A 1980 People magazine article pictured Lee doing what contemporaries like John Wayne & Robert Mitchum would never do: Join the roller boogie craze, with fashion trend-y head band and Walkman.

Even in old age, Marvin set fashion trends with a crisp denim shirt and zippered suede vest topped off with a Stetson Open Road Fedora.

-Dwayne Epstein

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I DIED A THOUSAND TIMES W/ JACK PALANCE & SHELLEY WINTERS

In Lee Marvin Point Blank I cover all of the actors films and most of his TV & stage work, but depending on the amount of time on screen, much of his earlier work is given less space, such as 1955’s I Died a Thousand Times, toplining Jack Palance. In an almost scene-for-scene remake of Humphrey Bogart’s classic, High Sierra, Palance is overshadowed but the outstanding cast and breathtaking color photography. The cast consisted of such pros as Shelley Winters, Lon Chaney, Jr., Earl Holliman, Howard St. John, Nick Adams, and a whacked out partying teenager played by Dennis Hopper.
Lee Marvin’s contribution to I Died a Thousand Times is minimal at best. However, since his face was becoming fairly well known, he did receive prominence in some of the advertising….

An Ad in which Lee Marvin is slightly on display (top right corner) for I Died a Thousand Times.

He and Holliman play Palance’s henchmen for an upcoming heist with Marvin being brutal to his girlfriend, Shelley Winters, and then cowering in fear when challenged b Palance. It may have been this film for which Marvin famously said, “People see me in a movie and they know two things: I’m not gonna get the girl and I’ll get a cheap funeral by the final reel.” Some times it was one or the other but on this occasion, it was both.
The film’s female lead, Shelley Winters, would work again with Marvin in the actor’s last film, Delta Force (although they had no scenes together). About I Died a Thousand Times, the usually acerbic actress was surprisingly kind in remembering Lee Marvin in her memoir:
“My agent Herb Brenner quickly volunteered reasons why I should do it. He told me ‘This one is a big color picture in CinemaScope. Jack Palance will star with you and Lee Marvin, who is a very good character, will be featured.’ Lee Marvin was a fine character actor then, and he was always full of fun, and very intelligent, drunk or sober. Though sometimes loaded while we were working, he was always in control of the scene. Every night, over martinis, after shooting twelve hours, we would meet in the bar and discuss nothing for hours.”
-Dwayne Epstein

More prominently featured in this ad, Marvin is shown doing what he did often: cowering in fear.

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