DICK CAVETT & LEE MARVIN, 1970

Dick Cavett, not quite the ‘King of Late Night’ that Johnny Carson was, actually gave Carson a run for his money for a while there in the talk show wars of the 60s and 70s. A former writer for Carson, his style was a little more urbane and his guests slightly more intellectual than Carson’s usual array of Carl Sagan and Charo or Merv Griffin’s infamous ‘theme shows’. Cavett sometimes had headline making events on his show, such as the fued that happened live on the air between Norman Mailer and Gore VIdal, or the time Yippie co-founder Jerry Rubin punched redneck Governor, Lester Maddox.

Screen grab of Lee Marvin’s appearance on the old Dick Cavett show, circa 1970.

Personally, I liked the show best when Dick Cavett went one-on-one with such guests as Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn or Marlon Brando for the entire episode. Recently, I discovered a YouTube video of Cavett doing just that with Lee Marvin, although it was only a segment and not the full episode. That aside, it’s a wonderful time capsule capturing Marvin had the height of his cinematic popularity. He comes off contemplative, naturally humorous and in appearance, every inch a charismatic movie star. Cavett actually seems a little nervous talking with Marvin but then again, that’s not surprising based on how imposing Marvin looks next to him.
In watching the clip, it’s a little startling to see how much Marvin smoked at the time. That and his drinking would of course wreak havoc in a fairly short time, as shown in another interview with co-star Charles Bronson.
Oh, one more thing. Watch the short clip to the end when Marvin surprises his host and audience with his amazing candor concerning his war wound. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank were able to read some of the letters he spoke of concerning his mother’s reaction to his getting wounded.
All that said, here now is a wonderful blast from the past. I give you Lee Marvin, circa 1970…

Share Button

DON RICKLES TALKS LEE MARVIN

(L-R) Tom Snyder, Lee Marvin & Don Rickles.

Don Rickles, the legendary insult comedian often appeared on the old Tom Snyder show  and was hysterical as usual. Snyder himself was an old style guy who laughed at himself, chain-smoked cigarettes and too often cut his guests off with rambling tales about himself. That aside, he was smart enough to know that when Rickles was the guest and he was on a roll, it’s best to back off and let the man go. Snyder’s show had two incarnations: “Tomorrow” on NBC (1973-1981) which ran after Johnny Carson and “The Late, Late Show” (1995-1999) which ran on CBS after “Late Night with David Letterman.” This clip is from Snyder’s CBS run, based on the color of his hair.

Recently, a friend on Facebook discovered this clip of Don Rickles on such a roll. Below is the video of Rickles doing just that and his subject is none other than Lee Marvin, himself. Rickles style was like no other and it is undeniably politically incorrect than these more “enlightened” times. He is of course an acquired taste so if his style offends, you’re missing out. Keep in mind, his style is often one of comedic exaggeration which he does brilliantly here. However, based on the subject, it’s doubtful that he’s actually exaggerating anything. Further proof can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank in which others have told me equally hilarious stories of Lee Marvin’s outrageous behavior, drunk or sober. Jack Palance and Beverly Garland told me two of my favorites that won’t be retold here but must be read to be savored.
Okay, all that said, without further ado, I give you Don Rickles with Tom Snyder on the subject of a chance meeting with Lee Marvin at the famous New York eatery and bar, Danny’s Hideaway. Enjoy….
– Dwayne Epstein

Share Button

VETERANS DAY: LEE MARVIN’S POSTWAR YEARS

With Veterans Day upon us, it’s a perfect time to write about Lee Marvin’s understandably complex emotions regarding his time in the service after his harrowing time in the war. That harrowing experience is detailed in his own words in Lee Marvin Point Blank as never before, but what of his thoughts after the war?
Well, for starters, as the war was winding down in the summer of 1945, there’s this copy of a letter Lee’s father Monte Marvin typed to Robert Marvin, Lee’s brother, who was still overseas…..

Monte Marvin's letter to son Robert on how Lee Marvin is surviving civilian life.

Monte Marvin’s letter to son Robert on how Lee Marvin is surviving civilian life.

Reading Monte’s letter to Robert, it doesn’t take much see how bitter Lee Marvin really was after the war. He grappled with those feelings the rest of his life and channeled much of what he was feeling into his acting. Fortunately for him, he was not alone as the postwar years meant many projects and people dealing with the same feelings…..

A purposely double-xposed photo of Lee Marvin and another actor onstage at the Maverick Theater in the play HOME OF THE BRAVE.

A purposely double-exposed photo of Lee Marvin and another actor onstage at the Maverick Theater in the play HOME OF THE BRAVE.

Once he decided to become an actor, Lee Marvin spent more time in uniform in theatrical productions on stage and on film than probably any other actor and clearly, that was no accident. He felt an obvious obligation to honestly portray what he went through despite the toll it had taken on him both physically and psychologically. His undiagnosed PTSD (also explored at length in the book) raged on through years of Veterans Days, Memorial Days, and more.
When Johnny Carson once asked him if he went to any USMC reunions, Marvin joked that he only went to a few and stopped after hearing the same boring lies and war stories.  The truth is he stayed in contact with other soldiers from his outfit and when the opportunity presented itself, he did whatever he could to help the cause of his fellow Marines. Besides donations to appropriate charities, one example combined both charity and heightened awareness. At the height of his cinema popularity, he took time to host and narrate a TV special entitled “Our Time in Hell”…..

The Hollywood Reporter (left) and the L.A. Times (right) both did write-ups on Lee Marvin's appearance and donation for a TV documentary of rare WWII footage of the USMC in action.

The Hollywood Reporter (left) and the L.A. Times (right) both did write-ups on Lee Marvin’s appearance and donation for a TV documentary of rare WWII footage of the USMC in action.

The title of the show may seem obvious but it also came from an often stated short poem whose author is unknown but who’s sentiment is not:
“And when he gets to heaven,
to Saint Peter he will tell:
‘Another Marine reporting, sir,
I’ve served my time in hell.’ ”

Publicity photo for OUR TIME IN HELL.

Publicity photo for OUR TIME IN HELL.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say Lee Mavin did much to help us understand what veterans have done for us and what they went through at a very high cost both during and after their service. So, in honor of that tremendous sacrifice, thank you veterans and may you always be treated with the dignity and respect you deserve. Happy Veterans Day!

 

Share Button