What exactly is the momentous Marvin memento? Well, a little back story is required. When Lee Marvin came home after the war, he settled with his family in the upstate New York area of Woodstock. The closest friend he made those years after the war was David Ballantine. The two men shared many interests including fishing, hunting and gun collecting. Before Marvin knew what he was going to with his life, and even the years after he decided to become an actor, the entire Ballantine family had a great influence over his life. In fact, it was David’s father, E.J. “Teddy” Ballantine who opened Marvin’s eyes to a life as an actor. David’s brother, Ian, and sister-in-law, Betty, started the very succesful publishing company Ballantine Books. Betty was a trusted confidante to the former combat Marine, so much so that he was her insight that led me to discover Marvin’s PTSD which became a most important theme in Lee Marvin: Point Blank.
In the years following Marvin’s phenomonally successful acting career, his friends and family from Woodstock were never too far from his memory. He would visit whenever he could and when something reminded him of his friends back east, he was sure to let them know it. Case in point, this letter from 1969, written and mailed on Monte Walsh stationary….
ballantine envelope

The contents of the letter were 2-fold. First, a quickly typed letter to David in which Marvin recounts the following anecdote on the beach at Malibu….

Dear David,

You are going to think I’m full of shit but here it is. Yesterday I was walking down the beach amongst the driftwood and trash line and feeling a little possesive, my beach, when I spot this green Scotch bottle, a pint, and know the label used to read Ballantine’s. The cork is still in it and I think, the bastards, why don’t they leave the cork out and then it would eventually sink and not litter up ‘MY BEACH.’ Proceeding to do the same, I pick it up and lo….there is something in it. Ah Ha. Some children have secreted a secret map or call for help in it. Okay, I’ll play the game. I can not pull it out of the slim neck so I bring it back to the house and get a hammer and go out to the trashcan to break it. I DO NOT WANT BROKEN GLASS ON ‘MY BEACH.’ So doing, lo and behold. The rest is self-explanatory. I thought you might get a kick out of it, I did. Love to you all, & Pam,


ballantine letter




What was the 2nd part of the letter that Lee felt was self-explanatory and worthy of writing in the first place? It was of course, the following content of the bottle…..
ballantine content


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Lee Marvin made his professional theatrical debut in the summer of 1947 in Woodstock New York’s Maverick Theater production of “Roadside.” it proved to be a magical summer for all involved. What that summer meant to Marvin is detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Luckily, some images of Marvin’s stage appearances that summer have survived….



A double-exposed image of Marvin with another actor from the Maverick’s production of the controversial WWII racially charged play “Home of the Brave” is show above.

Summer stock also meant learning roles as soon as possible, no matter the part. Below is an example of Marvin in appropriate age make-up (and attitude) for the A.A. Milne comedy, “Mr. Pim Passes By”…..
INPERFORMANCECan you pick out Marvin in the 2 images below? These rare images show Lee and his fellow actors in rehearsal for the play “Thunder Rock.” The images illustrate the size of the Maverick not being very large but it certainly accommodated…
MAVERICK-1David Ballantine, who was Lee’s best friend in Woodstock after the war, witnessed that time and may have summed it up best when he told me the following:  “Years later I saw a girl from those days at the Woodstock library fair. I said to her, this about the Maverick Theater: ‘My god, was it really as good as I remember it was, or was it just the glow of many years?’ She said, ‘No, David. It was that good.’ It worked very, very well.”


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