LEE MARVIN’S SCHOOL DAZE AT THE MANUMIT SCHOOL

This being the traditional beginning of the school year, I thought it appropriate to touch on Lee Marvin’s rollercoaster education. He often boasted in interviews of being kicked out of dozens of both public and private schools in his formative years. However, the truth is that the number was a lot less than that. The schools he did attend for any length of time are all documented in detail for the first time in Lee Marvin: Point Blank, with one example being the experimental upstate New York School called Manumit. If he had his choice, however, Marvin would have preferred a different pursuit, one in which he occassionally skipped school to pursue….
FISHING

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He would indulge his love of fishing and the outdoors in various degrees throughout his life. However, in his youth, come the autumn semester, boarding school called. His father Monte sought to enroll him at Manumit in Pawling, New York, based on discussions with its staff members and the brochure….
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The brochure boasted of its new way of doing things with free-minded students but also included this on the back cover….
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And so in 1936, 13 year-old Lee Marvin was enrolled, and wore the required outfit of the school…..
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It was the school’s educational director, William Mann Fincke, who wrote the assement of Marvin’s stay at Manumit. A summary appears in the pages of Lee Marvin: Point Blank but here now, for the first time, is the full assesement.

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Mr. Fincke’s attempt to end on an optimistic note ended with the above note. Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank know what happened not long after this report was written (pp. 22-24). The progressive school had never encountered the likes of Lee Marvin. The young hellion was indeed kicked out of school but not before he exposed their hypcorisy for what it was. The worst part for Marvin was having to face the wrath of his father, yet again. WHat lay ahead….well, that’s one of the reasons I wrote the book.

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MOMENTOUS MARVIN MEMENTO

What exactly is the momentous Marvin memento? Well, a little back story is required. When Lee Marvin came home after the war, he settled with his family in the upstate New York area of Woodstock. The closest friend he made those years after the war was David Ballantine. The two men shared many interests including fishing, hunting and gun collecting. Before Marvin knew what he was going to with his life, and even the years after he decided to become an actor, the entire Ballantine family had a great influence over his life. In fact, it was David’s father, E.J. “Teddy” Ballantine who opened Marvin’s eyes to a life as an actor. David’s brother, Ian, and sister-in-law, Betty, started the very succesful publishing company Ballantine Books. Betty was a trusted confidante to the former combat Marine, so much so that he was her insight that led me to discover Marvin’s PTSD which became a most important theme in Lee Marvin: Point Blank.
In the years following Marvin’s phenomonally successful acting career, his friends and family from Woodstock were never too far from his memory. He would visit whenever he could and when something reminded him of his friends back east, he was sure to let them know it. Case in point, this letter from 1969, written and mailed on Monte Walsh stationary….
ballantine envelope

The contents of the letter were 2-fold. First, a quickly typed letter to David in which Marvin recounts the following anecdote on the beach at Malibu….

Dear David,

You are going to think I’m full of shit but here it is. Yesterday I was walking down the beach amongst the driftwood and trash line and feeling a little possesive, my beach, when I spot this green Scotch bottle, a pint, and know the label used to read Ballantine’s. The cork is still in it and I think, the bastards, why don’t they leave the cork out and then it would eventually sink and not litter up ‘MY BEACH.’ Proceeding to do the same, I pick it up and lo….there is something in it. Ah Ha. Some children have secreted a secret map or call for help in it. Okay, I’ll play the game. I can not pull it out of the slim neck so I bring it back to the house and get a hammer and go out to the trashcan to break it. I DO NOT WANT BROKEN GLASS ON ‘MY BEACH.’ So doing, lo and behold. The rest is self-explanatory. I thought you might get a kick out of it, I did. Love to you all, & Pam,

Lee

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What was the 2nd part of the letter that Lee felt was self-explanatory and worthy of writing in the first place? It was of course, the following content of the bottle…..
ballantine content

 

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LEE MARVIN’S WOODSTOCK – PART II

Back in April, I hosted some images from my trips to Woodstock in the 90s as I researched Lee Marvin: Point Blank.  It proved to be the tip of the iceberg, with more images still to come. In the  original post, titled Lee Marvin’s Woodstock – Part I (ingenious, no?) I showed pix of Woodstock’s Village Green, Lee’s parents final resting place,  and the exterior of the Marvin home in Bearsville, situated right outside of Woodstock.
This time around, take a trip inside the house that would be the closest thing Lee Marvin ever had to a childhood home. After Lee’s brother, Robert, and sister-in-law, Joan, passed away the centuries old house was sold and the family items auctioned off. I’ve also been told recently that the house was ransacked, which is very unfortunate. When I visited it back in 94, it looked lived in and cozy.  Pictured below is the living room just inside the double doors off the porch seen in the background.

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Living room of the Marvin Home

It was the main area of activity when Lee and his brother were younger, and when Lee would came to visit after his stardom, as seen below on this Xmas Eve visit in the early 70s….

woodstocklivingroom

Marvin living room when Lee came to visit Robert in the 70s.

The archway leading out of the living room lead to the front door, as seen below from the top of the stairs. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank may remember it as the sight of one Lee, Robert, and Monte’s many post war brawls (p. 56, hardcover; 53, papebpack)….

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Looking in from the front door, there’s a narrow hallway leading to a back window and a side bathroom…

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Up the staircase were of course the bedroom Lee and Robert shared shown at the far left and the center room used by Monte as an office and later Robert. Not shown further to the left is the master bedroom….

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A close-up of the office used by both Monte and Robert is filled with treasures. It was here that Robert and I spent hours recording our conversation that would make up a good part of Lee Marvin: Point Blank. The lamp on the desk, by the way, is made from a pump Robert ‘liberated’ from the Queen Mary on his trip back to the states after the war. Also visible is a framed picture from the Civil War of a Marvin. It isn’t an ancestor, but a still of Lee from Raintree County….
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Lastly, the bedroom and the bed Lee slept in after the war. I slept in it my first night with the Marvins, but only the first night. A summer storm kept me up all night and the creepy factor alone was pretty intense. Not able to sleep, I wandered the house and eventually discovered a hidden cache of Marvin rarities. When I showed it to Robert and Joan the next morning, I told them I didn’t think Lee wanted me sleeping in his bed. Joan responded, “Maybe he wanted you to be be awake to find what you found.” Maybe, indeed….
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