NORMAN GUNSTON

Norman Gunston, a rather strange TV personality from Australia’s down under TV, used to interview celebrities the way Mike Wallace used to do with crooks on “60 Minutes.” The difference is Gunston used to do for a laugh and was often very funny. I’d watch clips of him on “Night Flight,” which is where I saw this clip of him talking to Lee Marvin. 

(L-R) Lee Marvin, unknown, Pam Marvin & Norman Gunston.

Imagine my surprise when I came across this recently on YouTube. It genuinely too m back to the nights of staying up late after a night out, channel surfing and finding a gem like this.
    Actually, this isn’t the first time Norman Gunston interviewed Marvin. Since the actor frequently traveled to Australia for the deep sea fishing, Gunston had previously interviewed him at the airport, which is why they seem so cordial here. 
   By the way, not every celebrity shanghaied by Gunston were as easy going about it as Marvin was. Often times they’d get downright nasty with the combed over hair and toilet papered face. As far as I’m concerned that just made the interview that much funnier and he deals with it well. One would think that catching Marvin in the halls of justice during a break during the 1979 palimony case would set the actor off in a darker mood. Not so, with Lee Marvin. He handless Gunston like a pro and takes it all stride. 
   Speaking of the palimony suit, most people think Marvin lost the case against Michele Triola but as detailed in Lee Marvin Point Blank, his lawyer, David Kagon, sets the record straight once and for all. 
   So, with further ado, I give you this brief interlude between Lee Marvin and Norman Gunston. Enjoy and happy Father’s Day, one and all.
– Dwayne Epstein

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JOHNNY CARSON, LEE MARVIN, JUNE, 1980

Johnny Carson, the once and future king of late night talk shows, had Lee Marvin on The Tonight Show as a guest fairly frequently whenever the actor was promoting an upcoming project. In the summer of 1980, he did just that when The Big Red One was about to be released (the clip they show of it is terrific!)

Lee Marvin’s dapper entrance on Johnny Carson’s TONIGHT SHOW gives his customary greeting to Doc Severinsen and the band.

I discovered the entire show was posted on YouTube thanks to frequent blog follower, Shawn Marengo, god bless her. As she aptly pointed out to me, Marvin looked quite dapper in his 3-piece, apparently custom-made suit. May have been one of the handful of suits he purchased for the infamous palimony suit, according to his lawyer, David Kagon.

Screen grab showing Johnny Carson & Lee Marvin discussing THE BIG RED ONE.

Marvin and Carson were good friends, although I don’t know if they ever socialized outside of the show. Not that it matters as they have a very easy report with each other, as shown in the way Marvin subtlety corrects Carson on the pronunciation of the film’s title. They also joke amusingly about WWII reunions with former Marine Colonel Ed McMahon brought into the conversation. Marvin does fib a bit when he says he never goes to such reunions as his first wife gave details of his presence at such reunions to this author in Lee Marvin Point Blank.
Since the show was still in its one and a half hour format, feel free to do as I did and skip over the segment of Kenny Rogers and Kim Carnes to get to Lee Marvin at around the 51 minute mark. Ironically, although he probably isn’t aware of it, Marvin’s good friend James Whitmore is in a commercial during his segment to hawk dog food. There’s also a humorous segment with Buck Henry that Marvin sticks around to participate in. Remember when talk show guests used to do that?

Anyway, without further ado, I give you The Tonight Show, circa June 25, 1980. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein

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MITCH RYAN TURNS 86 TODAY!

Mitch Ryan, the veteran actor of film, TV and stage has turned eighty-six years old today! He made his film debut in his twenties in the Robert Mitchum cult classic, Thunder Road (1958), returned to the stage and then didn’t make another film until his appearance as Shorty in the Lee Marvin classic, Monte Walsh (1970). Naturally, it was his work in that underrated western that made him the subject of my intense interest. In fact, here’s a story  that I’ve never told publicly before that I think says volumes about the man’s character.

(L-R) Lee Marvin, Mitch Ryan and Jack Palance in MONTE WALSH.

I had attempted to interview him several times over the years but the attempt was often in vain. Lee Marvin’s lawyer, David Kagon, knew Ryan and contacted him for me while I was in Kagon’s office. Ryan was polite but firm. He said he had to honor Pam Marvin’s wishes and not speak to me.
Okay, flash forward a few years and I’m still working on the book and attempting more interviews. I don’t recall how but I came in contact with Ryan again. This time, however, he was infinitely more receptive and agreed to a phone interview. The result was one of the most revealing and useful interviews I ever got as he was a great friend to Marvin throughout the remainder of his life. Our talk can be read in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank and it is both impressive and poignantly revealing.
After the book came out, Jeff Mantor invited me to a Q&A Book signing at his legendary store, Larry Edmunds Bookshop on the dirty boulevard of Hollywood. He encouraged me to invite a celebrity who knew Marvin to help sell books. Not many of my interview subjects were still around but when I asked Mr. Ryan…..

Mitch Ryan at the Larry Edmunds book signing enthusiastically shows off his prized possession.

 

What a guy, huh? I’m telling ya, not just a wonderful actor but a true mensch. We dined at Musso & Franks before the signing (on my publisher’s dime) and had a wonderful time at the signing itself. I can’t say enough about this great man so happy birthday, Mitch, and here’s to many more. You’re aces in my book! And thanks to your help, it’s a NY Times bestseller!
– Dwayne Epstein

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