St. Leo School in Florida was the closest Lee Marvin had to an alma mater. However, despite his best efforts, Lee Marvin never graduated from high school. He was kicked out of several public and private schools during his formative years and even went to night school after the war to get his GED, but the experience of the war proved too difficult to overcome. Of his time in school, he took pride in his later years of being kicked out of the progressive Manumit School, the militaristic Farragut Naval Academy, and several others.

The closest he came to graduating was at the St. Leo Academy for Boys Prep School in St. Leo, Florida. Now a regular college university, in Marvin’s day the catalogue that convinced his father Monte to give Lee one more chance at the private Catholic school stated the following….

History and schedule of St. Leo at the time Lee attended the private school.

History and schedule of St. Leo at the time Lee attended the private school.


Noting the 6:20 wake up call and enforced schedule, is it any wonder Lee rebelled? To his credit, he did make every effort to succeed and barely scraped by, as these report cards can attest…

Sample of one of Lee Marvin's St. Leo report cards.

Sample of some of Lee Marvin’s St. Leo report cards

What he may have lacked in studiousness (due largely to his undiagnosed ADHD and Dyslexia), he made up for with his natural athleticism. As the 1942 St. Leo School yearbook shows, Lee had lettered in track& field so quickly, he stood at the top of the heap, in his Florida clothes before he even had his letterman sweater…

1942 St. Leo yearbook shows Lee Marvin (top of photo in summer suit) eanred his track letter.

1942 yearbook shows Lee Marvin (top of photo in summer suit) earned his track letter.

It being Florida, the young athelete competed successfully in more than the Javelin and High Hurdles. Catholic School Swim Meets earned him the following accolades….

Awards won by Lee Marvin during a St. Leo swim meet.

Awards won by Lee Marvin during a St. Leo swim meet.

He proved to be such a popular student on campus (nicknamed Dogface), that the editor of the school’s paper was advised to follow him constantly to get quotes & stories…..

Copy of St. Leo's school paper showing Marvin's popularity highighted in blue.

Copy of St. Leo’s school paper showing Marvin’s popularity highlighted in blue.


All in all, his time at St. Leo School as not an entirely happy one, as recounted in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Still, decades later, after he had gained some success in show business, he took up Fr. Bowman’s invitation to stop by and say hello, as recounted in this rare photo from the school’s archives….

Rare photo of Lee Marvin visting Fr. Bowman at St. Leo decades after he attended.

Rare photo of Lee Marvin visiting Fr. Bowman.

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  1. In the fall of 1978, fresh out of high school – Bishop Fenwick, Peabody, Mass., I attended St Leo College. I was assigned to Lee Marvin Hall (second floor – Lee Marvin). As the story went, Lee Marvin attended St. Leo and when he made it big sent money to the school to erect a dormitory, the only stipulation was that it would be a co-ed dorm. it was a 3-story building on the men’s side of the housing are, the bottom two floors were men’s and the top floor, with security doors was the women’s . Second-floor Lee Marvin Hall had a reputation for “fun and antics…prank-style things.” Although I achieved a respectable 3.25 GPA (Dean’s List), I was asked, along with others not to return for the second semester of the 1978-79 year. we were told to go home and “grow up,” We were told we could re-apply for admission in the 1979-80 school year – but would probably be refused admission. A beautiful campus, great teachers, lots of fun, we had a beer and wine bar on campus, with a full-liquor bar at the country club across the street.

    • Thank you for your personal insight, Michael, into life in the short-lived Lee Marvin Hall. I hope you don’t mind but since it’s appropriate, I’ll be using some of what you wrote in a blog about Lee Marvin Hall. Thanks again!

      • Attended St. Leo College 1975 to 1977. Live in Lee Marvin Hall, Room 324 from ’75 to ’76. Confirming Michael Carney’s comments about bar on campus and country club and bar at golf course across the highway from St. Leo. San Antonio had 3 bars that I can remember…. The Headliner, John & Marys and a liquor store/bar (cannot recall the name). St. Leo had a party school reputation back then. I also made Dean’s list and I loved my time there. Thank you. Bill Finnegan

        • If it’s the same bar as when i was there in ’85, right down the street from the college, it was called The Establishment. It’s main bragging point was the shotgun hole in the men’s room door…

  2. Thanks for the article. My dad graduated from the prep school in 1957, and loved to recount the legends he had heard about Lee Marvin.

    One point: St Leo is not in or anywhere near Lakeland. It is in the city of St Leo, west of Dade City.

    • Thank you, Bernie, for the geographic update as that was totally my mistake. Lee Marvin’s father lived and worked in Lakeland at the time so I had that on my mind when I posted this blog. In truth, however, Lakeland is a little over 30 miles from St. Leo, so my guess is that his father came to see him on the weekends.

  3. I hitchhiked to St. Leo immediately after discharge from the service. Lived in what we called Lee Dorm. St. Leo was a wonderful welcoming place – brought me down from Vietnam. Thanks for your good touch on a fine school Mr. Marvin – and for all those great moments you gave us on screen.

  4. Attended ST LEO from 78-82, My first dorm was Lee Marvin Hall. We were told many stories about Lee Marvin in his days at the Prep School. The one that stands out was the night he had a fight and threw a guy out a 2nd story window causing serious injury. Apparently he was given a choice of jail or the military which led to his enlistment in the USMC. The college chose to rename the dorm after the national publicity of the “Palimony”(Cohabitation) trial with Lee and Michele Triola Marvin where she felt entitled to half of his wealth during the 6 years of their live-in relationship. The Catholic Church was strictly against Co-Habitation. The students were disappointed as Lee was a legend for his partying shenanigans.

    • Thank you for memories of ST. Leo, Tyler, as it is greatly appreciated. If I may, I’d like to correct some of the things you mentioned that were said about Lee Marvin while you attended. Lee did NOT throw a student out of a window when he attended St. Leo who was seriously injured. That did indeed occur but it was at a previous Quaker school he attended as was reported here.
      He was never offered jail or the military based on that. He chose the service voluntarily after Pearl Harbor was bombed. More importantly, the real reason the Lee Marvin Dorm was re-named was told to me by Marvin’s former teacher, Fr. Hoge as stated here. Hope that helps clarify the legend of Lee Marvin at St. Leo. Thanks again!

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