LEE MARVIN PASSED ON THIS DAY IN 1987

It doesn’t seem possible but on this day in 1987, Lee Marvin passed away at the premature age of 63. I’m often asked if I ever met him but since I began the project in 1994  I missed out on that possibility by a number of years. Writing about the end of life and his final days proved quite a challenge, as one would imagine. Luckily, I was able to speak with seveal people close to the actor at the end of his life, incldudng son Christopher, good friend Ralh O’Hara and Marvin’s Monte Walsh co-star, Mitch Ryan who visited Marvin in the hopsital the day he died. The end result was a different, detailed, and largely overlooked version of his passing then what was reported in the media at the time. Lee Marvin Point Blank’s firsthand account of the actor’s death differs from say, the article below, published in the now defunct L.A. Herald-Examiner in both major and minor ways…
EXAMINER-OBIT1

 

EXAMINER-OBIT2

 

Readers of Lee Marvin: Point Blank may have noticed some minor discrepancies in the above obituary, such as the fact that Marvin never had to pay any nominal fee to Michele Triola or that his sciatic nerve was not severed from the wound he sustained on Saipan. These are of course minor comapred to the write-up done in People Magazine a week or two later. Once again, readers will not the differences….
PEOPLE-OBIT

 

 

The tabloid-style periodical meant well but it is not known for its accuracy.

Perhaps the best way to remember the actor at the time of his passing was what he said of himself. Marvin became good friends with Dr. Harry Willner when the actor gave his Emmy-nominated performance in People Need People, based on Willner’s pioneering research with group therapy on injured veterans. Willner invited Marvin to his symposium of experts on the existence of evil. The actor was flattered and did give a brief statement at the event. As Willner writes in the intro to his book on the subject, Facing Evil, Marvin was scheduled to return, but alas, his passing made that impossible. Below is the dedication to Facing Evil…..
SALADO

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SKATE LEE MAN SMASHES CLICHES

Researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank yielded unlimited surprises, not the least of which was the fact that the man rarely fell into a particular stereotype or cliche of what I thought a person of his character would say or do. Case in point: Below are 2 images of Lee on skates from the glossy tabloid People Magazine that was published not long after the palimony suit…..
NY SKATEThe accompanying text for the above July, 1980 image read: “In Manhattan on business, Lee Marvin attended a private party at the Roxy Roller Disco and was so taken by the craze that he stayed on wheels for almost four hours. By the time he left, Marvin had made up his mind that a rollerskating party was just the thing to enliven the premiere of his new World War II movie, The Big Red One. What Lee enjoyed most, perhaps, was the sensation of being taken for a ride without benefit of Marvin Mitchelson.”

A few months later, in October of the same year, People ran a full profile of Marvin with this image:
AZ SKATEThe capton read: “Always physical, veteran actor Lee Marvin adapts to the latest craze with the same laconic ease he shows in his current World War II epic, The Big Red One.”

Just goes to show, one can never assume.

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