THE URBAN LEGENDS OF LEE MARVIN

Urban legends have a way of never fading into permanent obscurity no matter how great the effort is to exterminate them. You all know the ones: The faked moon landing, the origins of AIDS, the scuba diver scooped up by the water helicopters and then burned when dumped in a wildfire. My personal favorite has to do with Neil Armstrong and what he may have actually said when he stepped on the moon’s surface, but that, as they say, is another story.
Believe it or not, there are actually several such urban legends with Lee Marvin as the central focus.  Google the following words or phrases and you’ll see what I mean:
– Lee Marvin’s life was saved in WWII by Bob “Captian Kangaroo” Keeshan.

Bob Keeshan, aka Captain Kangaroo (L) and Lee Marvin probably never even met, despite urban legends to the contrary.

– James Coburn is Lee Marvin’s brother.
– Marvin had his sciatic nerve severed when wounded on Saipan which earned him the Navy Cross.

Within the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank, readers will not find any reference to these myths, for the simple reason that they are not true. Simply denying them is not enough for some folks, which I guess is the reason the website Snopes came into existence. One of the things that keep such rumors alive (or at least believable) is the amount of details they are given to make them seem true. I can’t tell you the amount of people I’ve heard say to me, “I know it’s true about Captain Kangaroo because I saw Marvin tell it on Johnny Carson.” As they say, the devil is in the details.
As for James Coburn, well there is indeed a certain resemblance, but that’s as far as it goes. Lee Marvin did have a brother, though, Robert, who bore no resemblance to James Coburn.

Lee Marvin & James Coburn looking brotherly on an episode of M SQUAD.

(L-R) Actors Lee Marvin, James Coburn, Katy Jurado and director Sam Peckinpah enjoying themselves in the late 70s.

I remember once many years ago being in the great memorabilia shop, Eddie Brandt’s Saturday Matinee, when I overheard an argument about the very same subject. The owner walked over to me to settle it, calling me the resident Lee Marvin expert. A simple shake of my head may have lost somebody a very big bet.
As to Marvin’s war wound, that’s harder to disprove as Wikipedia and elsewhere still repeat it. I’ve seen his service record which includes a medical report. His sciatic nerve was NOT severed and he did NOT win the Navy Cross. Purple Heart, yes, but not the Navy Cross.
I’m sure such urban legends will continue no matter how great the effort is to squelch them. Instead of wondering whether they’re true or not, I have a better idea. Read Lee Marvin Point Blank. The real story of Lee Marvin is infinitely better than any urban legend.
– Dwayne Epstein

Urban legends aside, in LEE MARVIN POINT TBLANK yours truly DOES  write about these two miscreants and get the inside scoop on their “related” lineage to Lee Marvin.

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GREAT SCOUT & CATHOUSE THURSDAY COMES TO BLU-RAY

Great Scout & Cathouse Thursday, Lee Marvin’s 1976 AIP release, has recently come out on Blu-Ray on the Kino Lorber label.  It being a Lee Marvin film, naturally I researched and wrote about it for Lee Marvin Point Blank.

An original p.r. still from GREAT SCOUT & CATHOUSE THURSDAY with (L-R) Ashley, Lenz and Marvin. The promotional caption says it all.

What’s it about? Marvin is, (get this) Sam Longwood, the great scout and it takes place during the 1908 presidential election of William Howard Taft. It was released, after all in the year of the bicentennial so patriotic banners and flags are on full display. Longwood and his cohorts, sleazy little Billy (Strother Martin) and Harvard-educated native-American Joe Knox (Oliver Reed) are bound for Colorado to collect their stolen money from former partner and now respected businessman, Robert Culp. Along the way, they way lay a wagon full of prostitutes named for the days of the week that Knox wants to ‘utilize’ to infect the entire caucasian population with veneral disease. The runt of this litter of soiled doves is named Thursday, aptly played by Kay Lenz, who is enamored with Marvin but is constantly groped by Martin. There’s also, among others, Marvn’s old flame, played by Elizabeth Ashley, and Kay Lenz’s former boss, played by Sylvia Miles. It being  a Lee Marvin film, naturally this bawdy tale ends in an all-out brawl between Marvin and Culp in which the rest of the cast joins in.

Lee Marvin as Sam Longwood discovers is former lover, Elizabeth Ashley, is not the woman he remembered her to be.

The Blu-Ray release, which could be ripe with supplemental material, sadly is not. Other than the film itself it contains only a trailer for other company releases. Had they asked, I could have provided some insight into the film, as I interviewed Kay Lenz extensively, who told me some wonderful stories about the film’s production and it’s cast of divergent characters. Anyone interested in finding out what went on during the film’s location shooting in sweltering Durango, Mexico, what Marvin himself thought of the film and his costars, can find it in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Newspaper wire image promoting the film.

Paperback tie-in published to promote the film.

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WILD BUNCH REMAKE? DON’T FORGET LEE MARVIN!

The Wild Bunch remake has recently been announced, to be written and directed by Mel Gibson. Lots of voices are arguing over whether it should even be done but to my mind, the question is will Lee Marvin finally get the credit he so richly deserves? What credit, you may ask? Well, as I discovered in researching Lee Marvin Point Blank, he was heavily involved in the project’s creation and was set to play the William Holden role of Pike Bishop.

Lee Marvin in THE PROFESSIONALS as Henry ‘Rico” Fardan, looking a lot like….

William Holden as Pike Bishop in the original version of  THE WILD BUNCH.

I discovered this lost nugget of information thanks to the files at the Academy Library in Beverly Hills in which the notes and communications between producers Phil Feldman and Ken Hyman tells the remarkable story in detail of Lee Marvin’s involvement in Sam Peckinpah’s renowned classic.
For Marvin’s part, he told his version to Grover Lewis in a 1972 Rolling Stone interview: “Good ol’ lovable Sam. …He approached me about doin’ The Wild Bunch. Shit, I’d helped write the original goddamn script, which Sam eventually bought and rewrote. Well, I mean I didn’t do any of the actual writing, but I talked it out with these guys who were writin’ it, Walon Green and Roy Sickner. Sam said, ‘Jeez, aren’t you even interested?’ I told him I’d already done The Professionals and what did I need The Wild Bunch for? And when the picture came out I didn’t think it really succeeded. It didn’t have the — I mean, it had all the action and all the blood and all that shit, but it didn’ have the ultimate kavoom, you know? It didn’t have the one-eye slowly opening it should’ve had.”
What Marvin failed to mention was the real reason he turned it down and why he made Paint Your Wagon, instead. Career-long agent Meyer Mishkin revealed that to me, which of course, is in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank.
As to The Wild Bunch remake? I reserve judgement on Gibson’s version until I see it. Bad enough he ripped off Marvin’s Point Blank with his bizarre remake Payback. Hopefully, with The Wild Bunch remake, he’ll give the devil — in this case Lee Marvin — his due.

(L-R) Burt Lancaster, Claudia Cardinale, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan and Woody Strode in a p.r. still from THE PROFESSIONALS (1966).

(L-R) Ben Johnson, Warren Oates, William Holden and Ernest Borgnine in the climatic scene in THE WILD BUNCH (1969).

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