Like any actor, Lee Marvin required head shots at the start of his career to pass around to agents and casting directors. Below are extremely rare and exclusive examples of those first head shots….
From 1946 to 1950, Marvin pounded the pavement of New York’s theater district and did quite well for himself finding work as both heavy and character actor. The shots below illustrate his attempt at versatility and somewhat softer visage…..
According to Woodstock friend Betty Ballantine, Marvin was proud of the pictures as she comically related: “He was a very impressive heavy. I remember, it was the following year (1950), in the fall, he came and maybe he had gotten the touring job or something. He came to me with two photographs. His first professional mug shots. One very serious and one grinning showing all his teeth, teeth like a horse. He said, “Which one do you want?” For god’s sake! I said diplomatically, “Yes, I’ll take the smiling one.” (laughs). It was cute in it’s own way.” The photo she was referring to can be seen in the bottom left corner below:
After several years of theater and live TV work in NY, Marvin took fellow actor James Doohan’s sage advice and headed west (Lee Marvin Point Blank, p. 70). It proved to be a smart move as he racked up multiple credits in a short period and snared an agent, Meyer Mishkin, who believed in the actor’s potential as much as Marvin himself. Below is Marvin’s listing in the all important Player’s Guide of 1952, the industry casting bible. Listed as a character actor/comedian (!) note the credit for the film The Dirty Dozen. It would later be changed before release to Eight Iron Men by producer Stanley Kramer. The title would, however, show up a few years later in the actor’s resume……