FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS OF LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK

Frequently Asked Questions (or FAQs), has become a popular aspect to most websites, and this one dedicated to underscore my book Lee Marvin Point Blank, is now no exception. Don’t know why I hadn’t thought of it until now but a recent transaction with a friend on social media gave me the idea. I’ve since amassed enough frequently asked questions I thought this a good time to address them. So, with that in mind…

Cover of the trade paperback that includes a quote from Leonard Maltin and a starburst heralding some exclusive additions.


1. How did you come to write about Lee Marvin?
I get this one a lot. Short answer is that of course, I’m a fan. Long answer is slightly more involved. Marvin is just one of my personal favorite actors that include the likes of James Cagney, Burt Lancaster and most of all, Steve McQueen. I’ve read a lot about all three actors so when the biography entitled STEVE McQUEEN: PORTRAIT OF AN AMERICAN REBEL came out in 1994, I had to read it. Having done so, I decided to try to contact the author, Marshall Terrill, to discuss a few aspects of his book. Much to my surprise, he responded and when he was next in L.A., we met up. A casual conversation turned into a friendship that exists to this day. Because I had a journalism background, early on he asked me if I ever considered writing a biography? I responded, “Yeah, you wrote it!” Since Marshall had a marketing background, he then proceeded to discuss possibilities based on what would sell and who has not had a definitive bio done about them. Enter Lee Marvin. I told him I’d think about it and he persisted so that over time I became fascinated with the research I was uncovering. Eventually (almost 19 years later!) it came into existence.

My copy of Marshall Terrill’s book that he inscribed: “It’s been a real pleasure to meet someone with the same zeal that I do for Steve McQueen. You really know your stuff. I’d really like to see you pursue a book on Lee Marvin. The timing is right and there’s no one better qualified to write it. Please keep in touch as I think you are incredibly well-versed in movies, which makes for great conversation. Take care, Best wishes, Marshall Terrill  2/15/94.



2. Did Lee Marvin ever attend any USMC reunions, why or why not? 
According to Lee’s first wife, Betty, he did maintain contact with his war buddies but didn’t particularly care to go to any reunions. Despite his sincere efforts towards promoting and helping the Marines throughout his life, the idea of reunions was something he was not fond of being involved in. As he told Johnny Carson one night, “I went to a few reunions but after awhile, you get bored hearing the same old war stories.”

Lee Marvin happily hands over a check for a USMC charity in support of his favorite branch of the service.



3. Why is there no mention of what Lee’s daughters are doing and why didn’t you interview them?
There is mention of what his daughters, Courtenay, Cynthia and Claudia have been doing in the bibliography entitled Posthumous Events Related to Lee Marvin. As to interviewing any of them, I did speak with each of them but none of them wanted to go on the record about their father which of course, is their choice and I respect it. Luckily, their brother Christopher did agree to be interviewed as well as write the poignant Afterword to the book.

Pictured here at Cynthia’s 1982 wedding are (L-R) Christopher Lamont Marvin, his sister Courtenay Lee Marvin, Lee Marvin, Cynthia Louise Marvin Michaels, Betty Marvin, and youngest of the four siblings, Claudia Leslie Marvin.


4. Is the story of Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo) saving Lee’s life during WWII true? My agent, the late Mike Hamilburg, once called me up and asked me this as a friend of his said it was true. I told him exactly what I had written in a blog later on about the same subject involving such urban legends as found here. In other words, despite it’s nagging persistence, it is not now nor has it EVER been true. 

5. Who were Lee Marvin’s favorite and least favorite actor to work with in his career? 
Marvin was a professional and veteran of countless performances so he basically learned to get along with pretty much everybody he worked with. If he had a favorite actor my guess would be Toshiro Mifune, his costar in Hell in the Pacific (1968), of whom his admiration was immeasurable. 

At the press conference for the Japanese premiere of HELL IN THE PACIFIC, Marvin admires Toshiro Mifune as he fields a reporter’s question.

As to who was his least favorite actor to work with, well, that question got answered a while back but still worthy of this FAQ blog in terms of symmetry. The answer can be found here.

6. How come your book doesn’t have a filmography?
Ahh, but it does. It’s just not done in the obvious way of previous film biographies. There’s one of several bibliographies in the back of the book, and in the one entitled Important Dates in the Life of Lee Marvin ALL of his film (and most TV) appearances are listed. 

7. When does your next book come out and what’s it about?
Been avoiding this one for a quite a while now. The answer is….well, that will be in the next installment of Frequently Asked Questions *wink, wink*

There you have some of the most frequently asked questions that I’ve come across over time. Naturally, if any of your questions were not addressed, by all means feel free to ask them here and I’ll do my best to answer them. Thanks!
– Dwayne Epstein

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LEE MARVIN BIOPIC: BACKGROUND & POSSIBILITIES

A Lee Marvin biopic would seem like a natural following the surprise success of the publication of Lee Marvin Point Blank in 2013.  Why? Well, one would naturally assume that a non-fiction title that made the NY Times, Publisher’s Weekly and Wall Street Journal’s best seller list in the top five would have studios and executive producers just scrambling for the rights. Sadly, that has not been the case but it can be rectified with a little background info.
I have written about the possibility previously on this blog, as readers may have noticed. I’ve brought up the subject based on lead actors, young and old, possible directors, even casting ideas for supporting characters.

Schaffner Press decided to include the sunburst image and green banner highlight for Lee Marvin Point Blank’s paperback release in 2014.

Why have I written about it? A couple of reasons. First and foremost, the market for biopics has gained enormous interest lately, as detailed earlier this year in Market Watch.
Secondly, I would be less than an honest if I said the idea of a Lee Marvin biopic based on my book had not crossed my mind while I was working on it. It took me nearly 20 years to get a publisher interested in my book and the idea of a biopic existed even then.
My agent, Mike Hamilburg and I were constantly being told that the proposal is well-written but that there wasn’t a market for a Lee Marvin bio. Then Tim Schaffner, of Schaffner Press, agreed to publish it in 2013. It won several awards when it came out and, as previously mentioned, in June of 2014, the e-book made the NY Times bestseller list at #4. Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly, too! So much for there not being any interest in the project.
Okay, all that said, it was my agent, Mike, Hamilburg, who first suggested I write a film treatment based on the book.

I did just that, submitted it to him and was told that he would then shop it around as he thought it was one of the best he had ever come across. This, coming from the guy who helped put together the film American Hustle (!) Unfortunately, Mike fell into a coma around the holidays and died New Year’s Day, 2016. The project has been in free fall ever since, with no agent and no way to contact anyone to pitch it to for a possible option: A VERY frustrating situation.

One of the rare times Lee Marvin himself played a real-life character on film was RCMP’s Edgar Millen in DEATH HUNT.

Lee Marvin as Edgar Millen in DEATH HUNT.

I feel, without a doubt, Marvin’s PTSD and how he dealt with it is a major selling point. The time period it encompasses is also a popular aspect. I like to think of it as sort of The Hurt Locker meets “Mad Men.”
A good example of success in this area is FX Channel’s mini-series about Bette Davis & Joan Crawford called “Feud,” which was extremely popular and dealt with the same time period as the bulk of my Marvin bio. It too, was based on a popular book (by Shaun Considine that came out in 1989). I hope I won’t have to wait that long for an option but you get the point I’m making:
There is an audience for a great biopic just waiting to be seen and I own the copyright and the registration with the Writer’s Guild.
So, with that in mind, I unabashedly state that if anybody reading this has possible industry connections and likes the idea of a Lee Marvin biopic, do not hesitate to contact me here and we can definitely work out a deal. Seriously. Let me know and we can get the ball rolling. Until then, here’s hoping some clear thinking investor/producer/entrepreneur reads this and does indeed make contact. Fingers crossed.

Title page with logline, tagline, copyright & WGA registration for the film treatment FROM HELL TO HOLLYWOOD based on LEE MARVIN POINT BLANK.

-Dwayne Epstein

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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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