He may not have been the best looking guy in the world, but Lee Marvin did grace many a magazine cover in his time, and even after! His un-matinee looks aside, there was something about him the camera did indeed like and below are several examples that not only chart the trajectory of his career, but his personal likes, his audience and his lasting appeal…..
When the New York Hearld-Tribune’s TV supplement ran a magazine cover story in 1958 on the amount of violence on television, they had on their front the likes of Darren McGavin in “Mike Hammer,” Ty Hardin in “Bronco,” Richard Boone in “Have Gun Will Travel” and Marvin in “M Squad.”
In fact, the success of “M Squad” was such, that even after it left the air and went into syndicated reruns, another newspaper TV supplement ran a magazine cover story on it and profiled its star in 1962….
In between films & TV appearances Marvin had time to indulge in one of his lifelong hobbies which naturally garnered the cover of an appropriate magazine….
He continued to be profiled between the covers of periodicals over the next few years as his popularity slowly gained momentum but only the NY Daily News Sunday edition chose to do a cover story on the actor. The year was 1966 and the print date was just hours before the Academy Awards in which Marvin surprised everybody…
By 1967 he was the number one male box office star in America making appearances in every major magazine in the country. When he made the magazine cover once again it was to promote his latest project already in theatres at the time.
Lee Marvin’s star finally ascended when he was in his 40s and the promotional material for his films, such as paperback movie tie-ins, prove it. Below are more examples….
As detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank, Roy Chanslor’s novel The Ballad of Cat Ballou (above left) was kicking around Hollywood for some time before it was finally changed and turned into a comedy farce with Lee and Jane Fonda in 1965. Hollywood provided the appropriate imagery on the cover to sell books. Frank O’Roarke’s A Mule For Marquesa was also changed when it made it to the screen in 1966. Writer/Director Richard Brooks offered it to Burt Lancaster & Marvin. Marvin loved it but when Lancaster read it, he thought he’d be playing the Marvin role. Brooks said he’d be boring in that role so Lancaster would be playing the dynamite expert. “I read the book and there’s no dynamite expert in it,” Lancaster reportedly told Brooks. “There will be when I’m done with it,” Brooks responded.
Marvin closed out the decade with the poorly received Paint Your Wagon (1969) which time has been more kind to than when it first came out. The same can be said for Point Blank (1967) which has become so popular with the passing of time, it resulted in this post-release tie-in in the 80s from Britain, shown above right.
Mad Magazine? Really? Yeah, really! The purveyor of pop culture parody, has been successfully poking fun at iconic movies since the 1950s and is still going strong. The incredibly wild success of 1967’s The Dirty Dozen (The biggest box office hit of the year and the 6th highest grossing film in MGM history) meant that in the January, 1968 issue of Mad Magazine, cartoonist Mort Drucker and writer Lou Silverstone would take on the monster hit film in their own inimitable fashion. Chock full of puns, inside jokes (check out the ‘cameos’ of Beetle Bailey and Co.), and wonderfully rendered caricatures of the entire cast of Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, Trine Lopez, John Cassavetes, Robert Webber, Telly Savalas, Clint Walker, Donald Sutherland, Ralph Meeker and Robert Ryan.Too bad they didn’t do more Marvin parodies. Drucker did him great!
Oh, and the intro is wrong, by the way. The trend in anti-heroes didn’t start with Hud. That actually goes waaaay back to everything from Phantom of the Opera to Little Casear and the entire career of the likes of Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum and beyond…..And whats with the guy with the eye patch smoking the cigarette?