‘MAD DOG’ MARVIN

‘Mad Dog’ Marvin, not a nickname usually associated with Oscar-winner Lee Marvin, but he did once utilize it in a sketch on a Bob Hope Special costarring Barbara Eden. The special is either from 1968 or 1970, not quite sure. Either way, he was already well established in the media but was not above such silly and broadly played doings as he had on occasion in such films as Donovan’s Reef (1963) and Cat Ballou (1965). 
  As with many of Hope’s sketches, they’re extremely dated in the humor but the fun is in watching big names stars deliver the goods, and Marvin delivers in spades. Of course, Barbara Eden is sexy and cute but it’s Marvin who steals the show, especially with his entrance. The effect he has on Hope is hilarious.

Screen grab of Lee Marvin’s entrance as ‘Mad Dog’ Marvin on the Bob Hope Special of the 1960s.



Other celebrities were quite willing to make fun of their image, such as Paul Simon dressed like a turkey and singing “Still Crazy After All These Years” on a Thanksgiving episode of Saturday Night Live” back in the the 1970s. Then there’s the infamous bunny suit worn by John Wayne for Easter on “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in.” 

The Easter Bunny on steroids, aka John Wayne on ‘Laugh-In.’



In researching and writing Lee Marvin Point Blank, I was constantly surprised and impressed with the actor’s willingness to do anything and have fun doing it. It’s what made the work a labor of love. For example, when I discovered that because he enjoyed watching “The Flip Wilson Show,” he asked his agent Meyer Mishkin to get him a guest spot on the show and so he did. It was just before going on stage with the show that he got the surprise of a lifetime that I wrote about in the book. 
 When all is said and done, one must watch the sketch below to truly appreciate what I’ve been talking about. I can’t picture such Marvin costars as John Wayne or Charles Bronson selling it like Marvin himself does. Oh, and the waiter in the sketch doing the bad Italian accent? Singer Robert Goulet!
Watch and enjoy at the link below….
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DsVY7tXJiKI 

– Dwayne Epstein

 

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WEIRD LEE TV MOST FANS MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT

Since TV as a medium has expanded immeasurably in weird ways over the past few years, here are some equally weird and lesser known TV appearances….with Mr. Marvin, of course, that might best be described as weird Lee TV.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, when Lee was at his most popular, not many big movie stars appeared on TV, unless it was a talk show appearance to plug a film. Lee did that too, but he was also not above appearing fairly regularly on say the odd Bob Hope comedy special. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know that he was about to walk on stage of The Flip Wilson Show when he was hit with the Palimony suit that made headlines through out the 70s. Just one of the many weird Lee facts one can discover in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Lee Marvin with Bob Hope in the early 70s on one of the legendary comedian’s many TV specials for NBC.

If the concept of Marvin appearing on a Bob Hope Special seems difficult to wrap one’s head around, imagine seeing him make an appearance on the old Ed Sullivan show! He did, believe it or not, following the release of Paint Your Wagon. Since it was released successfully as a single, he sang ‘Wanderin’ Star’ backed by the Yale Glee Club. Not surprisingly, he also went out and got soundly drunk afterward.

Hamming it up in a 70s sketch with Bob Hope and Pat Boone.

It would be hard to imagine some of his contemporaries, such as Marlon Brando or Charles Bronson, being willing to do such antics, yet, Marvin did it with gusto. In fact, his turn as gangster ‘Mad Dog’ Marvin on a Bob Hope show is especially hilarious. I don’t think the same could ever be said of Brando or Bronson.
Marvin was also not above other TV appearances, such as hosting and narrating a documentary on the Marines in WWII, or another documentary focusing on American ingenuity.
Possibly the strangest of all, especially since he was a major boxoffice star at the time, was this one from 1977, just in time for the holiday season of TV specials. Personally, I would have loved to have seen the tribute to the banjo as pictured in the ad below. Now THAT would be something to see……

Old TV Guide ad promoting a Gene Kelly variety show special featuring…wait for it… Lee Marvin!

 

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TCM’S “SUMMER UNDER THE STARS” SUBJECT: ANGIE DICKINSON ON LEE MARVIN

Of all the actors Lee Marvin worked with, he worked with one woman more than any other: Angie Dickinson. They first worked together on the TV show “M Squad” and then in The Killers (1964), Point Blank (1967), Death Hunt (1981) and several Bob Hope comedy specials. Their mutual chemistry on screen was palpable but circumstances and timing on each of their projects kept them from doing anything about it offscreen. However, on more than one occassion, it came frustratingly close, as documented in Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Dickinson was one of the few truly important subjects I sought to interview for my book but in spite of her many public appearances, she is an intensely private person. At one point, she and I had both been interviewed for the A & E Biography of Lee and it was then that she finally relented. The show’s producer offered some foreshadowing when I was told Angie really had not said much that the show found useable.
She finally agreed to sit down with me in her southern California home. Polite, courteous and wonderfully acommodating, she nonetheless proved understandably reticent when it came to opening up about her frequent costar. Amazingly, she came up with a great idea. She left the room briefly and returned with the poster from The Killers and said, “Maybe this will jog my memory.” It did the trick. Memories came flooding forth and the day flew by as she remembered all the anecdotes of Lee that eventually went in the book. Most of what she had to say about Lee and her observations and experiences were quite impressive. Some of the few comments that did not make it in the book, follows the pictures from their three films together:

The original ad for THE KILLERS.

The original ad for THE KILLERS.

In POINT BLANK, Angie Dickinson actually drew blood from Lee Marvin, who of course, never said a word about it.

In POINT BLANK, Angie Dickinson actually drew blood from Lee Marvin, who of course, never said a word about it.

Their final film together, Angie Dickinson found Lee Marvin to be much more curmudgeinly during the making of DEATH HUNT.

In their final film together, Angie Dickinson found Lee Marvin to be much more curmudgeonly during the making of DEATH HUNT.

“Lee was the personification of a man.. Ohhh!….He was more than good. You wanted to be good with him. You wanted to be good for him. …Sometimes, as an actor, a certain thing is expected of you, period. But there’s another time, there’s just something more you want to be. He did have a sadness about him. Sad, sad, sad. When people are sad, you want to make them not sad. For me at least, it just made me want to be better. I never analyzed it beyond that. It was just a natural instinct. Of course, the professional side of you, you want to look good in the presence of greatness…. With all of his courage and toughness, he was so shy. That sounds like a dichotomy but it’s not. You can be firm in what you believe in and be shy in how you go about it. He was certainly basically a shy man. He was shy about himself and strong and tough about his principles and therefore his acting.”

 

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