Great Man’s Passing:
It was 28 years ago today that we felt the loss of the great man’s passing: we lost Lee Marvin to the ravages of time.The loss to many of those closest to him, such as friends, family, and co-workers, is well chronicled in Lee Marvin Point Blank.
However, as is often the case, at the time of his passing, news of his death was overshadowed by the loss of another iconic fim personality: in this case it was actor/director John Huston, who had passed away the day before, at the age of 81. Still in all, Marvin’s death was indeed recorded such as in the following obituaries, like this one from the L.A. Times:
L.A. Times Obit for Lee Marvin
LA Times obit, pt.2
In the actor’s home town of Tucson, the following obit ran:
The now long-defunct Herald-Examiner ran a piece in which they spoke with several of Marvin’s co-workers such as Ernest Borgnine and Ralph Bellamy:
Herald-Examiner, AP Wire obit
However it was in the N.Y. Times, in the city of his birth, which gave Marvin’s passing the most complete coverage:
NY Times obit
Ironically, one of Marvin’s most frequent co-stars, Charles Bronson, did not comment on his death but would himself pass away from Alzeheimer’s Disease exactly 15 years later to the day in 2003!
The 1972 film Prime Cut remains one of the strangest of Lee Marvin’s career and one that has developed quite a cult following over the years. Marvin and director Michael Ritchie (pictured above holding camera) did not get along at all, and the Calgary, Canada location was loaded with strange and interesting anecdotes (See Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 191-193). Veteran character actor Gregory Walcott costarred with Marvin as a deranged henchman called “Weenie,” shown above tangling with Marvin. Walcott had some interesting thoughts about his costar not included in the text.
Gregory Walcott: “He was a strange person. I wouldn’t know from one day to the next how he was going to be. Kind of like a Jaguar I used to own. Drives great when it drove but I never knew if it was going to start the next moment. He was a strange dichotomy. I remember I had lunch with my agent one day in a restaurant on Sunset Blvd. Lee came in with his agent, Meyer Mishkin. He saw me there, came over, and sat down. He talked for a while, shaking hands. Just delightful, you know? He was great, with his white teeth shining. Then, about a year later, I went down to Tucson on a film. By then, he had moved Tucson with his wife, Pam. He came into a restaurant on that day, saw me and just said, “Oh, yeah,” and just walked right passed me. He was a strange mixture of man.”
In this picture below from Walcott’s collection, during the film’s production in Canada (the sunflower field in the films’ finale were actually flown in from Kansas) the sequences shot in a local flophouse included actual transients as extras. When asked to pose with some of them, Lee Marvin had no problem with the request …
In the course of putting together Lee Marvin Point Blank, especially the final stages, the most enjoyable, and in some ways the most difficult part, was choosing what pictures to use. It was truly an embarrassment of riches to choose from as I had amassed quite a collection of images and graphic material over the years from several generous sources. Almost all of the images seen on the blog are examples of what did not make the cut for one reason or another but are finally seeing the light of day here. One of the best sources was Lee’s son, Christopher, who, after much cajoling, allowed me to copy some of those images. As a lasting tribute to him I include some of the ones that didn’t quite make the cut but can see below:
The last time the entire Marvin family reunited. Pictured here at Cynthia’s 1982 wedding are (L-R) Christopher Lamont Marvin, his sister Courtenay Lee Marvin, Lee Marvin, Cynthia Louise Marvin Michaels, Betty Marvin, and youngest of the four siblings, Claudia Leslie Marvin.
Christopher is shown visiting his father at his Tucson, Arizona home in the late 70s.
Christopher, sporting a mustache and 2 of his sister (Claudia & Cynthia) visit their dad.
Helping his father work the cacti Lee was so proud of, Christopher poses with him on his dad’s property. Just before the picture was snapped, According to Christopher, Lee grabbed the shovel and said, “Give me that! Let everybody think I was the one working.”