LEE MARVIN, VETERANS DAY & LEATHERNECK MAGAZINE

Veterans Day is yet another time to honor the memory of Lee Marvin, and the honor is provided courtesy of Leatherneck Magazine. I was quite surprised to find out how long the magazine has actually been in existence. This month marks Leatherneck Magazine’s 100th anniversary. Not surprising since November 10th marks the 242nd anniversary of the Marine Corp itself, so there’s some symmetry there.
Equally surprising is the the date in which Veteran’s Day is observed. November 11th was chosen due to the Armistice being signed on that date in WWI, which by the way, it remains Armistice Day in other countries for that reason. Oh, and in case you ever wondered why such organizations as the American Legion sell paper red poppies to raise money, there’s an interesting reason for that, as well. Red poppies were seen blooming on the hills of the Western Front amid the carnage following the armistice of WWI. For some reason I take comfort in that symbolism of life among the dead, instead of selling toy guns or something.
Anyway, back to the subject at hand. Lee Marvin was interviewed by Leatherneck Magazine about a year before his death making it one of the last ones he ever gave to a periodical. I cam across it during my early research for Lee Marvin Point Blank and found it both insightful and humorous. Unfortunately, upon further research, I discovered some of the facts to be incorrect (Monte Marvin came out of WWII with a Sergeant’s rank, not a captain), making it hard to use anything in it other than Lee Marvin’s quotes. In the long run, that worked out best as it helped me decide to write the chapter on Lee’s time in the USMC strictly in his own words from letters he wrote home during the war. It became one of my favorite exclusives to the book, if you haven’t read it.
So, without further adieu, I give you Lee Marvin speaking freely to Leatherneck. Enjoy and have a good Veteran’s Day!
– Dwayne Epstein

Page 1 of Leatherneck Magazine’s July 1986 interview with Lee Marvin.

Page 2 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 3 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 4 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 5 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

Page 6 of Leatherneck Magazine’s Lee Marvin interview.

 

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DRINKING WITH LEE MARVIN

Some of the many comments I’ve receive from folks who have read Lee Marvin Point Blank concerns his drinking. There are some who understandably enjoyed his more humorous exploits during those less informed and politically incorrect times. Others have said it changed their opinion of the actor and not for the better. For myself, in doing the research for the book, so many of those stories not only took a much darker tone, I also discovered how distasteful dealing with these incidents had become. After a while, it became downright morbid and forced me to make a conscious decision about it. Instead of constantly ticking off such events in the man’s life, I chose to only include particular stories or events that shed some light on the man’s character. In doing so, I think the result was more enlightening, but of course, there were still some readers who felt shorted, or worse, still thought I over-emphasized the problem simply by the inclusion. Just goes to show, you can’t please everybody.
With that in mind, I found a few images from my research of Lee imbibing that did not make the book but is  included here…or what’s a blogosphere for?

A 15-year-old Lee Marvin (far left) and friends at New York's 1939 World's Fair.

A 15-year-old Lee Marvin (far left) and friends at New York’s 1939 World’s Fair.

The first photo, which to my knowledge has not been previously published, shows a barely in his teens Lee Marvin with some friends enjoying beer and cigarettes at the NY World’s Fair. Since the fair ran from April of 1939 to October 1940, one can only assume Marvin & company went during the summer when school was out. Of course, with Marvin’s academic history, drinking beer and smoking would be a minor consideration for him if he had already ditched class for the day.

Some time in the late 50s, Lee Marvin holds court behind his home bar while wife Betty holds her gaze on her husband's intake.

Some time in the late 50s in their Uplifters Ranch home, Lee Marvin holds court behind his bar while wife Betty (far right) holds her gaze on her husband’s intake.

When Lee and Betty Marvin married and eventually bought a house for their growing family, it was in an area of Santa Monica known as “The Uplifter’s Ranch,” whose history was as colorful as its name. Established in 1913 by several wealthy (and well known) gentlemen, according to Betty Marvin: “The old Uplifters Ranch, it was in the early days, remember the producer Sam Briskin? That era. He had our house. It was a men’s club, a private club for people in the business. They were log cabins and before Will Rogers had polo fields, there were pole fields down below. The men would all go there without their wives and they would play polo and they would drink and play bridge and go crazy. It was a wild club. They had a big pool and stuff. Anyway, Sam Briskin’s wife, and the women found a way to get in. They put up curtains and such…When I found this house it was a mess. Berle, her name was, Johnny Weismuller’s wife, they had all those boys and the place was filthy, chewing gum on the walls. But the bones of the house was great. The architecture was wonderful. When we went there, there was still potholes in the road. It was a private road even though out of spite one of the last widows gave the property to the city so it became a city park. Nobody knew it because there was only one entrance and exit. It was a city park but we still the owned the road in front and half the road in back. No one used it except the kids of the neighborhood and the bus stopped across the street to the little old schoolhouse down the hill….An acre of land with these big old oak trees and avocado trees. It was wonderful. It was so right for us…” And so, The Uplifters Ranch. Not that he needed one but the history proved a perfect place for Lee to imbibe, under his wife’s watchful eye.

Late 1960s: Lee (seated), his father Monte (center) and brother Robert (right) settle an argument in Marvin Woodstock home.

Late 1960s: Lee (seated), his father Monte (center) and brother Robert (right) settle an argument in Marvin Woodstock home.

A little later in life, Lee visited his family in Woodstock for the holidays and is pictured with his brother and father in the 1960s (judging by the actor’s hair), as they peruse an atlas to settle a disagreement. Also, you don’t often see Lee Marvin wearing reading glasses. So, why is this picture included? If you examine the photo a little closer, you might notice the glass on the edge of the end table. It is doubtful the clear liquid is water, probably closer to gin or vodka. It certainly would be the case, if only having to deal with the pajamas that inebriated Robert is wearing.

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PAINT YOUR WAGON: UNSEEN FATHER/SON OFF-CAMERA PIX

Father/Son
Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know that like most of us, the Oscar-winning actor had a complicated relationship with his father, Lamont ‘Monte’ Marvin. From childhood  to adoloscensce and well into adulthood, the two men loved each other but had a difficult time expressing, let alone understanding, their emotions toward each other. Those emotions ran a larger gamut that most father/son relationships as they encompassed envy, rage, one-up-manship, you name it. These are often emotions one would more likely find in say a boss and employer relationship. Which may be the very theme of this blog entry…
I was extremely lucky to come into much ofthe  exclusive reasearch data that I did when exploring Lee Marvin’s life. Keep in mind, when using the term ‘lucky’ I mean it in its purest form: When opportunity meets preparation. Such was the case wth the images below. Readers of the book are familair with the central image from this scanned page in the book’s photo section:

A page from the Lee Marvin Point Blank photo section.

A page from the Lee Marvin Point Blank photo section.

The image I’m referring to out of the three that are  pictured, is the rare one depicting Lee Marvin in costume as Ben Rumson for the 1969 film Paint Your Wagon. Beside him, whooping it up in laughter, is his father, Monte.
Now, here’s the interesting part. From the same photo collection is the following image….

(L-R) Asst. director Tommy Shaw, Lee Marvin, his father Monte, and director Josh Logan, on set for Paint Your Wagon.

(L-R) Asst. director Tommy Shaw, Lee Marvin, his father Monte, and director Josh Logan, on set for Paint Your Wagon.

Based on the clothes it is pretty safe to assume the photos are from the same day as the one from the book’s photo section.
I had been told from several very reliable sources, that Lee’s drinking was not a constant thing, especially where work was concerned. However, when production slowed down, when things began to go astray, when incompentence began replacing experience, Marvin would simply state, “I’ll come back when you all know what you’re doing.” He’d then proceed to the nearest watering hole.
Now, having said all that, and noting the dour expression on the actor’s face in these photos, the final photo ties it all together. Obviously, Marvin did walk away, but a watering hole was not nearby. Monte sought to help his son as best as possible but knew not how. The result of this is Lee’s condition and the complicated relationship of father & son as depicted below….

Kneeling Monte unsucessfully attempts to rouse his prone son back to work.

Kneeling Monte unsucessfully attempts to rouse his prone son back to work.

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