What do author Robert Ward, Rolling Stone Magazine and I have in common? Well, let’s go back a ways, before the internet, before smart phones, back to a time when the printed word was all hard copy and the so-called “New Journalism” still had an impact.
It’s 1981 and the week’s cover of Rolling Stone (Stevie Nicks in full ethereal thrall) gave no hint to the internal contents. I’m at a magazine rack (remember those?) perusing the issue and my eyes fall upon this image….
I immediately thought, “How Cool!” before realizing it’s actually a full article on Lee Marvin written by author Robert Ward. The article itself is terrific, one of the best interviews with the actor I’ve ever read..to this day!
I actually buy the issue, drive over to my buddy Mike’s house and show it to him. Seeing as how he’s just as big a Lee Marvin fan as I am, I figured he’d enjoy the hell out of it, too. A few days later, when I ask him what he thought of it, the following dialog took place.
Mike: I didn’t know he lived in the Tucson desert. We could drive out there and knock on his door.
Me: We step on his property and he’d probably punch us both in the mouth.
Mike: Yeah, but how cool would it be to honestly tell people Lee Marvin punched us in the mouth?
Okay, flash forward several decades and I’m working diligently on Lee Marvin Point Blank. Frustrated for an anecdote that would properly illustrated my book’s theme, I reread the Rolling Stone piece and it presents itself. By the way, such things are not the proverbial flashbulb over the head. More like a 2×4 to the back of the neck.
Well, I turn everything in and lo and behold, upon publication, even some folks who may not like the book comment on how much they enjoyed the opening anecdote. On a hunch I then do a Facebook search for Ward and not only find him, but he accepts my friend request. I was nervous at first since he remained good friends with Marvin after the article came out and shock of shocks, he had read my book and liked it! We exchange more pleasantries and he invited me to his home since I offer to sell him a favorite piece of Marvin memorabilia. We talk, he pulls out a copy of my book and then asks me to sign it to him. He also offers me a copy of one of HIS books that he signs to ME. It’s a collection of his wonderful essays through the years and I could not be more honored….
The entire moment reminded me a little of a scene in Donnie Brasco. It’s the one where Johnny Depp and Al Pacino exchange Xmas gifts and it consists of each of them counting the wad of stolen money they give each other. No money of course, but Robert Ward and I signing each other’s books at the same time and then exchanging them was a similar image to me. Good guy, that Robert Ward.
Oh, and the opening anecdote used in my book’s intro? One of my favorites. If you don’t know, then read, Lee Marvin Point Blank.
– Dwayne Epstein
P.S. Ward is also the author of the novel and screenplay of the criminally underrated Cattle Annie and Little Britches. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.