The idea of a Lee Marvin High School, or any other institution, may seem as likely as the Joan Crawford Day Care Center or the Stanley Kowalski School of Etiquette. The reason being is that in today’s cultural, social and political climate, political correctness has run amok, unfortunately.
An example of such ridiculous behavior was in the news recently. Virginia’s Bowling Green University had the name of Lillian Gish and her sister Dorothy removed from the school’s campus theater. A petition was passed around by the students to have the action taken and despite an outcry from the mainstream creative community –the likes of James Earl Jones, Martin Scorsese and more — the action was taken. Ms. Gish’s offense? She starred in D.W. Griffith’s 1915 racist cinematic opus, Birth of a Nation. Never mind the copius amount of money she and her sister had donated to the school over the years or her amazing contribution to film and theater in general. The dictates of political correctness reigned supreme here. The entire sad series of events can be read here.
Ironically, when Spike Lee accepted the school’s Gish Prize in 2013, he said, “Would you believe, two of the most important films that impacted me while I was studying at NYU starred Miss Lillian Gish. Those films were D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation and Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter. Isn’t it funny (sometimes) how life works? And how ironic life can be? God can be a trickster. Peace and love to the Gish Sisters. . .”
It is with that in mind I conclude that in the current climate of political correctness, the possibility of a school or institution named for Lee Marvin seems remote at best. It did almost happen, though, while he was still alive….

An image from Donald Zec’s bio on Lee Marvin in which the actor admires St. Leo’s recently named dormitory in his honor.

The honor bestowed upon the school’s famous alumni was sadly short-lived, however. The reason most people think his name was removed was of course, incorrect, as well as the fact that he was NOT kicked out of school before graduating. That controversy was explained by the school’s archivist in a previous blog entry.

Teenaged Lee Marvin in full uniform when he briefly attended the political incorrectly named David Farragut Naval Academy in Toms River, NJ.

No, Marvin might have to wait a long time before seeing his named carved on the hallowed halls of some great institution. His own persona and famous ways aside (chronicled in depth in Lee Marvin Point Blank), there would be another reason why. In these insane times of political correctness, it could easily be discovered: He and his brother were proudly named after a distant relative on his Virginia born mother’s side: losing Confederate general, Robert E. Lee.
– Dwayne Epstein

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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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Admiral Farragut Naval Academy
Lee Marvin
often bragged that he was kicked out of dozens of schools when he was growing up. The number is probably an exaggeration but it was an impressive amount, nevertheless. Below is an extremely rare photo of the very young Lee Marvin (most likely a gangly 14 or 15 year-old at the time) during his short stint at the Admiral Farragut Naval Academy in Toms River, New Jersey. Marvin’s feelings about the school can be seen as writ large on his face, even though the blown up image is somewhat blurred. The picture was taken in the brutal New Jersey winter by a fellow classmate for which Lee would then return the favor so both boys would have a picture to send home to their parents. Most likely the camera was a present to do just that.

The institution still exists and chances are the current administration may not even be aware of the future WWII-era Marine and Oscar-winner having been in their midst. There’s also a good reason why as explained in Lee Marvin: Point Blank. He did keep the uniform, though….

Admiral Farragut Naval Academy

A reluctant Lee Marvin in uniform in military school in New Jersey.

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