The 86th annual Oscars airs this Sunday and in honor of the event I’ve decided to post some applicable images and anecdotes of Lee Marvin’s still popular 1965 Best Actor win. It was an unlikely, yet memorable win on many levels. Comedy performances rarely win, nor do multiple roles no matter how impressive. Yet, Marvin’s dual role as both broken-down gunslinger Kid Shelleen and steel-nosed Tim Strawn of Cat Ballou managed to pull it off. Some trick photography of the day above highlights Marvin’s dual personalities.
Marvin’s road to the Oscar began with a call from his press agent and gained momentum as the awards season built up steam. First, there was the Golden Globe victory in which Marvin can be see below comparing notes with fellow GG winner Samantha Eggar who triumphed with The Collector….
At the age of 41, the slow trajectory of Marvin’s film career finally made it to the launch pad with The Killers and the double barreled success of Cat Ballou and Ship of Fools blasted him into the stratosphere. In the weeks leading up to the big night, media outlets couldn’t get enough of Marvin, who obliged them with his own handicap of his long-shot chances. Come the big night, a flurry of events, that were at turns outrageous, suicidal, nightmarish, poignant, profane, and ultimately triumphant were recounted to this author by the actor’s press agent Paul Wasserman, first wife Betty, and career-long agent Meyer Mishkin (Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 158-161 & 166-169). A fan even went so far as to chronicle the evening for her scrapbook that she sent to me depicting Lee, presenter Julie Andrews, Best Actress winner Julie Christie and Marvin’s then-girlfriend, Michele Triola (with an incorrect caption, I might add)…
Partying into the night, the puffy-eyed, clearly hung-over actor was forced to hold an impromptu press conference at LAX on the way back to London to the set of director Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen…..
Aldrich hated giving the actor time away from the set for the award and a few years later, when actor Cliff Robertson made the same request when filming Aldrich’s Play Dirty, it was denied, forcing someone else to pick up his Oscar for Charly.
As for Marvin, the last word of the Oscars may be long to a small newspaper in the town of Lakeland, Florida. He hated the formative years he spent their in his youth, thrown from school to school and encountering fist fights wherever he went. Yet, decades later, the Lakeland Ledger had this headline accompanying the AP wire photo from above….