Lee Marvin’s Near-Death Experience
Lee Marvin’s older brother, Robert, had never been interviewed before about his famous sibling but agreed to talk with me in 1995, going on the record for the very first time. It was not easy to gain his confidence, but once I did, he slowly opened up to me, relating many events in their childhood that had never been made public before except in Lee Marvin Point Blank.

Almost everything Robert related to me before his passing in 1999 went into the book. One rare exception was a near-death experience from their childhood in which both boys nearly drowned. Following the picture from that time period (Lee is on the right with goggles), are Robert’s own words, unedited, detailing as best as he could remember the event nearly 60 years earlier in sunny Florida…..



Robert Marvin:

Remember I started telling you about the canoe, last night? Now this cabana is a beautiful place inside. You got tile wood floors..and, the beach is over here to the left. We went on our canoe that afternoon. Right. What was the guy’s name? I forget now. He was a big time lawyer down there. He and one of his sons, they had a beach house out there. They had a canoe. It was a lot of fun to run around in the waves with a canoe. Lot of fun. We tied it up to that buoy that afternoon. Maybe say 100 feet or less, offshore. A storm came up and lightening was all over the place. So we were hiding in the canoe and headed back for shore. The canoe turned over. We had to cut loose of that buoy or lightening would’ve got us. Then I looked down and saw a couple of sharks float by. A fishing boat, about two hours later came along. I would say, probably, You see clear water north of there were a few docks with these fisherman and they’re professional commercial fisherman. They pulled us up in there. They took the canoe and stuff, they had the ropes and everything. We went back. I don’t recall what happened then. I guess we called my parents, or somebody did. While we were in the water for two hours, we just sat there. We got cold, that’s all. Scared?  Geez, I can’t remember. Probably just too busy surviving sort of thing.
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Lee Marvin would be the first to say he never had a hometown, having grown up and gone to school all over the Eastern seaboard, from New York and New Jersey, to New Hampshire and Florida.  He would also admit that if he had any roots at all, it would be in the upstate region of Woodstock, New York. His parents gave him and his brother, Robert  memorable summers when they were children. After the war, following short horrific stints in both Manhattan and Chicago (Lee Marvin: Point Blank), the family settled in Woodstock where they took up residence for the rest of their lives. In fact, Lee’s mother Courtenay, father Monte, and brother Robert all lived in the Bearsville home until their deaths.
It was in Woodstock, while working as a plumber’s apprentice for Adolph Heckeroth, that Lee discovered his true calling. What he did until that time can be seen below….

chicago-1In Chicago after the war and still sporting the mustache he grew in the Pacific, Lee enjoys a night with one of the many local women he dated through the years.


For most of his life, Marvin enjoyed two past times since childhood. One was fishing, that grew to include deep sea fishing off the coasts of Mexico and Australia when he got older, to another manly pursuit….

deerhunt-1He loved to go hunting as shown above, which once resulted in a a comical run-in with his boss, Adolph Heckeroth (Lee Marvin Point Blank, p. 59)

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