About Dwayne Epstein

Dwayne Epstein is the author of a number of young adult biographies, covering such celebrity personalities as Adam Sandler, Will Ferrell, Hilary Swank, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton and Denzel Washington for Lucent Books’ “People in the News” series. Epstein also contributed to Bill Krohn’s bestselling books “Hitchcock at Work” and “Joe Dante and the Gremlins of Hollywood.”Prior to writing biographies, Epstein contributed to film chronicles on a regular basis. He wrote for Filmfax Magazine on subjects such as Bobby Darin, the Rat Pack, television pioneer Steve Allen, film director Sam Fuller, comic book artist Neal Adams, “Invasion of the Body Snatcher’s” Kevin McCarthy, John Belushi and comedy legend Sid Caesar. Epstein later contributed to Cahiers Du Cinema’s “Serious Pleasures” which had a high profile in Europe. He wrote on American films chosen for rediscovery by directors Oliver Stone, Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Clint Eastwood. Early in his career, Epstein earned his first professional writing credit reviewing films for Hearst Community Newspapers. Epstein was born in New York’s Coney Island in 1960, and moved West with his family at age 8, spending the rest of his childhood in Cerritos, Calif. He moved back east, attended Mercer Community College in New Jersey, and also served as an assistant editor for the five area newspapers of Cranbury Publications. Epstein made one more cross-country move and currently resides in Long Beach, Calif. When he is not writing, he enjoys watching and reading about movies and collecting soundtracks.

THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY REFERENCES LEE MARVIN

The Lincoln Highway, a recently published bestselling novel by Amor Towles, references Lee Marvin in an early part of the story. The story takes place in the 1950s and concerns four unfortunate juvenile delinquents attempt to return to their small hometown in Nebraska, only to be forced to go to New York City. Early on, one of the main characters encounters a fight and the author approaches it this way:

“Alan Ladd in Shane.
Frank Sinatra in From Here to Eternity.
Lee Marvin in The Wild One.
You know what these three have in common? They all took a beating. I don’t mean getting a pop in the nose or having the wind knocked out of them. I mean a beating. Where their ears rang, and their eyes watered, and they could taste the blood on their teeth. Ladd took his at Grafton’s Saloon from Ryker’s boys. Sinatra took his in the stockade from Sergeant Fatso. And Marvin, he took his at the hands of Marlon Brando in the street of a little American town just like this one, with another crowd of honest citizens gathered around to watch.” 


Believe it or not, The Lincoln Highway is not the only bestseller to reference a Lee Marvin film. While researching Lee Marvin Point Blank I was made aware of an an ever better example. Author James Michener gave praise to Monte Walsh (1970) in his popular 1976 novel, Centennial: 

“‘Have no fear [a character says]. I’m taking you to a masterpiece.’ And he dd. Monte Walsh, a low-budget picture starring Lee Mavin Jack Palance and Jeanne Moreau, unfolded with such simplicity, such heart-tripping reality, that a strange mood developed. Everyone who had any knowledge of the Old West sat transfixed by the memories the film engendered, but those who had known the religion only secondhand felt irritated at the wasted evening. Masterpieces are like that; they require an active participation and offer nothing to those who are unwilling to contribute.”

It never ceases to amaze me how much influence the work of Lee Marvin has had on popular culture, both retro and contemporary. Of course if you want to know why he’s still so influential, read Lee Marvin Point Blank.

– Dwayne Epstein

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REDBOOK MAGAZINE: CARSON & MARVIN

Redbook Magazine once did something rather extraordinary. Apparently, when Johnny Carson was still in the comparatively early stages of hosting The Tonight Show, he had Lee Marvin on as a guest and enjoyed the conversation so much, he invited Lee to his house to continue the chat and allowed Redbook to print it.
I got the idea to post this blog entry of the Redbook article after recently posting a late life video of Lee’s appearance on the Carson show to promote The Big Red One in 1980 (that can be viewed here). It’s interesting in that the Redbook article is a result of Marvin’s first appearance on Carson while the video may very well have been his last appearance.
I discovered the article during my research for Lee Marvin Point Blank and quoted from it profusely. Clearly, Carson and Marvin had a natural report which allowed them to open up with each other in a much more candid way then they would have on television. Keep in mind, this article is from November, 1967, when such subjects as sex, sex education and the like were considered taboo for national television.
Friends of Lee Marvin had told me that the actor so enjoyed chatting with Carson he felt comfortable enough to sometimes prank the host. He once appeared on the show acting drunk but when they came back from commercial break, both men were laughing uproariously as Marvin let Carson in on the joke.
I should point out that the original article was in color and what I was able to scan below is a Xerox copy. Since the magazine ceased publication in 2019, enjoy this rare gabfest between two icons of popular culture.
– Dwayne Epstein

Lee Marvin shown successfully flipping a cigarette in his mouth on the first page of the article.

An amused Johnny Carson at Lee Marvin’s antics on page 2.

Page 3 of the Redbook article.

The conclusion of Redbook’s candid conversation.

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A FISTFUL OF LOVE

“A Fistful of Love,” an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aired January 2, 1959 starring Lee Marvin, proving the actor’s amazing versatility in a poignant tale of an aging boxer.

Lee Marvin as boxer Pete “The Pittsburgh Kid” Pulaski in A FISTFUL OF LOVE.

it’s a simple yet elegiac tale told very much in the style of Rod Serling’s groundbreaking TV and movie script for “Requiem For A Heavyweight,” which aired live in 1956 and later filmed in 1962. In fact, the stylized opening to “A Fistful” is almost identical to Requiem For A Heavyweight
  When I was researching Lee Marvin Point Blank I was amazed to discover the depth and breadth of the actor’s TV work. He proved infinitely more versatile on the small screen than he ever was on the big screen. Even when it came to military-themed stories, as the only time he ever portrayed Marine (which he was in real-life) was on television. Consequently, I devoted an entire chapter just to his TV appearances.
  At the time he appeared on “Fistful” it was during the golden age of television in which anthology programs were sponsored by large corporations that cranked out dozens of unique stand-alone stories without recurring characters. As a result, the quality ultimately suffered. Veteran TV and film director put it best when he said to me, “You must understand that anthology TV is a very difficult form. The canvas is very small in which to develop. Consequently, it wasn’t very good unless you were doing sci-fi or something of that nature. Audiences had to latch on in Scene 1, Act 1 with the character. That’s why anthology never worked. The successful shows were rare ones.” Martinson’s concept probably explains the longevity of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” 
  Several of the supporting cast may look familiar. Marvin, portraying a boxer named Pete Pulaski, aka ‘The Pittsburgh Kid,” is managed by Buddy Lester, probably best known for his appearances in several Jerry Lewis movies. Speaking of Jerry Lewis movies, Pulaski’s trainer is the rotund character actor Stanley Addams. Addams was a friend and neighbor of Lee and Betty Marvin best known for playing Lewis’s bellicose boss in The Errand Boy (1961). 
Written and directed by veteran Allen Miner, he probably got Marvin to do the show based on having written directed several episodes of “M Squad,” which Marvin co-produced. So, with all that in mind, return for a moment to early 1959 and the black and white city realm of a boxer’s faded glory. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein


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