Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank are well aware of the strange shenanigans that took place during the Oregon location shooting of Paint Your Wagon (1969) and later, Emperor of the North (1973). The interesting thing is, that once a book is released, you come in contact with people you wished you had met while researching the book. Case in point, a recent new friend on Facebook brought to my attention a few rare images of Lee Marvin from the set of both films.
Katherine Wilson is a historian working on a much anticipated book on the history of Oregon filmmaking and looks to be a winner! Here’s a sample of what to look forward to in 50 Years of Oregon Film. When she saw my Lee Marvin book she made a friend request and proceeded to share with me two photos from both Oregon locations.
The first, seen below is obviously from Paint Your Wagon and, according to Wilson, the photographer was a state employee and the photos were then given to Katherine by the governor’s secretary, Wanda Merrill, who is to be credited for her generosity. Pictured left to right are: Nina Westerdahl, the assistant’s wife; Wanda Merrill, secretary to then governor Thomas McCall; Lee (in costume as Ben Rumson); Governor McCall’s wife, Audrey. Clearly, the ladies are enjoying the company, What I like about this photo is that it drives home the point that even though Lee Marvin never had matinee idol good looks, He definitely had what used to be called “star quality” and it shines in this photo. Charisma, Larger-than-life, whatever term fits, Marvin clearly had it without looking like Tyrone Power or Brad Pitt.
       A few years later, Marvin was back in Oregon (with script in hand), but this time he was there to film the underrated, Emperor of the North with multi-film costar, Ernest Borgnine. Below, they are seen with Warren Merrill, Oregon’s first film commissioner. What’s going on in this pic is anybody’s guess but it is cool to see them in costume, ain’t it?

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