LISA RYAN, DAUGHTER OF ROBERT RYAN & A WONDERFUL SURPRISE

Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, has recently been back in touch with me. You may recall, that a while back she gave me permission to post our talk about her father. She also gave me one of my favorite stories about the making of The Dirty Dozen (1967) which of course went into Lee Marvin Point Blank that just has to be read to be appreciated!
Well, after discovering the documentary Rick Spalla did on Lee Marvin, which included an interview with her father, I just naturally had to let her know about it. We reconnected conversationally and she told me that due to the pandemic, she had been in the midst of decluttering her belongings when she made an interesting discovery. Among her treasures were a series of photos taken on the set of Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh of the entire cast! She not only sent the scans of them to me, she gave me permission to post them here on my blog.
Lee Marvin Point Blank readers know that I was fortunate enough to interview director John Frankenheimer, costar Jeff Bridges and several others who told me great stories about the making of the rarely seen gem. However, these images say just as much. The photographer went simply by the name “Orlando” and obviously by the signatures these were all meant for Robert Ryan’s personal collection…..

Lee Marvin as Hickey: “To Robert Hit’em again Lee”

The sitting with Lee Marvin was apparently part of the film’s publicity as this now defunct magazine cover shows…

 

 

When all is said and done, Lisa Ryan, daughter of Robert Ryan, came thru with a wonderful surprise. So, without further ado, I give you classic images from THE ICEMAN COMETH…..

Fredric March as Harry Hope: “To Robert Ryan God Bless — always Fredric March 1973”

Jeff Bridges as Don Parritt: “Bob — Acting and especially knowing you, has been very special, Jeff Bridges”

Director John Frankenheimer: “Bob with admiration and grand thanks  John Frankenheimer”

Bradford Dillman as Willie Oban: “Bob — O’Neill has been kind to both of us and you have been especially kind to him! Cheers!
Brad Dillman”

Sorrell Booke as Hugo Kalmar: “Dear Bob – Don’t be a fool
Buy me a drink
Love
Sorrell Booke”

Hilda Brooks as Margie

Juno Dawson as Pearl: “Dear Bob,
Lovely working with you!
Love,
Juno”

Evans Evans (Mrs. Frankenheimer) as Cora: “Dear Bob,
With love,
Evans”

Martyn Green as ‘The Captain’: “From one old soak to another,
It’s been fun, Bob!
Martyn”

 

 

Moses Gunn as Joe Mott (unsigned).

John McLiam as Jimmy Tomorrow: “Dear Bob,
You are the kindest man among us,
John McLiam”

Stephen Perlman as Chuck Morello: “Bob – Looking forward to seeing The Master Builder [???] Stephen Pearlman”

Tom Pedi as Rocky Pioggi: “To Robert Ryan,
Tom Pedi”

 

Obviously, not all of the cast members are pictured here. Notably absent are Clifton James (“Pat McGloin”), George Voskovec (“The General”), and most obvious of all, Robert Ryan (“Larry Slade”). Fortunately, Lisa was able to find the following cast photos (seen below  after all the individual portraits) that does indeed include her father and the rest of the entire cast….

Cast & crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH with individual signatures.

An ever better view is the following close-up images….

Cast and crew of THE ICEMAN COMETH in close-up.

(L-R) Tom Pedi, Evans Evans, Stephen Perlman, unidentified, Moses Gunn, John McLiam (seated), Jeff Bridges, Fredric March, George Voskovec (seated), John Frankenheimer, Clifton James (seated), Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Juno Dawson & Hildy Brooks (seated), Martyn Green & Bradford DIllman (seated).

Finally, since this was graciously donated by the daughter of Robert Ryan, I’ve taken the liberty to include this poignant tribute to her father from the film’s playbill written by L.A. Times film critic, Charles Champlin…

Charles Champlin’s tribute to Robert Ryan.

And so there you have it: Some rare and fitting tributes to an underrated classic and a legendary postwar actor desperately worthy of rediscovery. Lisa Ryan, I am forever in your debt. Stay safe, everyone!
– Dwayne Epstein

 

 

 

 

 

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RICK SPALLA: 1960’S LEE MARVIN DOCUMENTARY

Rick Spalla, an independent TV producer of entertainment news shows of substance (i.e. not TMZ or Entertainment Tonight), was one of the first people I sought when I began working on my Lee Marvin biography. I had learned of a TV documentary he had done on Marvin back in 1969 and was desperate to see it and find out more about it. Glad I did.
Don’t recall how I managed it back in those pre-internet days of the 1990s, but I secured an interview with Rick Spalla who graciously let me view the show in his studio on a moviola he set up. The 16 mm film was hardly HD, and stopping and starting it to take proper notes was a challenge, but it was well-worth it for the nuggets of info I was able to mine and put in the book.
Spalla died in 2001 and I never did get to see the show again, that is until now.

Lee Marvin being interviewed by Joe Hyams on location in Oregon during PAINT YOUR WAGON as they enjoy the rehearsal of The Nitty Gritty Band.

Imagine my surprise when Facebook friend and fellow film biographer, Gabriel Hershman, wrote me recently to tell me the show has been posted on YouTube! He sent me the link and I viewed it again as if for the first time. It really was well-done and holds up extremely well, in my opinion.
In fact, it reminded me of the quote I got from Spalla as to how his idea for the show came about: “Initially, I was planning to do the show about Keenan [Wynn] and his racing. Keenan invited Lee along. Then, over the years, Lee just got to be such a big star, we had to do one about him once the series started.”

Closing credit from the show PORTRAIT: LEE MARVIN.

Several of the people interviewed for the show had passed away by the time I began working on Lee Marvin Point Blank. Thanks to Spalla, I was able to get quotes from the likes of Keenan Wynn, Robert Ryan, Jack Webb, and others all of which went in the book. Readers know I also got first person exclusives myself with the show’s other guests, like Terry Moore, Eliot Silverstein, Angie Dickinson and more, so feel free to check those out, as well.
All in all rediscovering the show on YouTube thanks to Gabriel Hershman, was a revelation.

Author Gabriel Hershman’s biography of Albert Finney (above) is HIGHLY recommended.

Marvin was candid and whimsical during the on location interview, the film clips are well-placed and the anecdotes told about him are wonderful.

As to Rick Spalla’s opinion of his subject, he told me: “He lived life to the fullest. He loved living. We went down to Mazatlan so I could film him fishing and he was in heaven. He called it ‘Margarita time.’ On the first day he caught 6 sailfish and a marlin. When he was fishing, he was like a kid with a toy. As if he had all the toys in the world. He’d catch a fish and couldn’t wait to throw the line out again. It was like a movie or something. After the first day, he wanted me to go out with him again, but I had enough.”
Luckliy, for the rest of us, we can now see what he meant. So, without further ado, I give you Portrait: Lee Marvin, part one and part two. or click the images below. Thanks again, Gabriel!

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ALLEN GARFIELD, A GREAT CHARACTER ACTOR REMEMBERED

Allen Garfield, a great character actor in 1970s American films, passed away recently at the age of 80 from the dreaded Corona Virus. I was a fan of his work and thought he was terribly under appreciated. In fact, a recent obit read as if he’ll be remembered as barely a blip in film history. He may not be as revered as say a Walter Brennan or Ed Asner, but he certainly left his mark of versatility on some great films.

Some personal favorites are his media savvy consultant who shows up idealistic Robert Redford in Michel Ritchie’s The Candidate by smilingly smashing up a bag of lollipops with a tiny hammer. He was also Oscar-worthy as Peter Falk’s not-too-bright brother-in-law in William Friedkin’s underrated The Brinks Job.

I had the privilege of a chance meeting with him outside the Virgin Record Store on Sunset in the early 1990s. He was walking down the street with a pretty young woman when I recognized him and introduced myself.

Allen Garfield as he looked around the time I met him in the 1990s.

He was warm and cordial and was in the mood to talk. When I told him what I was working on at the time, he told me what a great idea a biography on Lee Marvin would be as he had always been a fan. I should add that even though he was older than myself, he peppered his conversation with many hip phrases, like “Right on,” and “Far out,” and “I can dig it.” When I mentioned the Lee Marvin bio he told me he always wanted to work with the man and almost did…once. He heard that The Iceman Cometh was going to be made into a film and desperately wanted the role of Rocky, the night bartender. As I recall, he said he got a reading with director John Frankenheimer, thought he nailed it and waited anxiously for a call back. Alas, it was not to be as Frankenheimer went with long-time veteran character actor Tom Pedi, who had played the role many times on stage, TV, radio, you name it.

Tom Pedi (left) as night bartender Rocky in Eugene O’Neill’s The ICEMAN COMETH with Lee Marvin (right) as Hickey.

Rather ironic considering Frankenheimer purposely didn’t want Jason Robards to play Hickey as he thought Robards too familiar with the role and directing him would be like, ‘Directing him how to go the bathroom.” You could see the disappointment on Garfield’s face as he recounted the story. I felt for him but also knew it was the lot of an actor’s life. He did as well so instead of dwelling on it mournfully, we began talking about the films and performances he did make and loved doing. I also asked him why he made the risky move of changing his name to Goorwitz and he told me it was in honor of his mother who had recently passed away. He did of course go back to Garfield shortly thereafter. Before parting he gave me his card and said to call him any time as he loved talking about movies. I kept it in my wallet for years but never did call him. My loss, I’m afraid. I did toy with the idea of including his little anecdote in the chapter about Iceman in Lee Marvin Point Blank but my exclusive interviews with Frankenheimer, Jeff Bridges and the children of Robert Ryan abundantly filled it out.
I often wondered why I had stopped seeing him in projects as much as I used to until I read about his health issues. He suffered a series of strokes and spent the last 15 years in the Motion Picture Retirement Home. Damn shame as we should have seen him in a lot projects. Farewell Mr. Garfield and fear not. As long as there are classic movie fans, you will always be remembered.
– Dwayne Epstein

Allen Garfield, aka Allen Goorwitz. Rest in Peace.

 

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