A FISTFUL OF LOVE

“A Fistful of Love,” an episode of Schlitz Playhouse of Stars aired January 2, 1959 starring Lee Marvin, proving the actor’s amazing versatility in a poignant tale of an aging boxer.

Lee Marvin as boxer Pete “The Pittsburgh Kid” Pulaski in A FISTFUL OF LOVE.

it’s a simple yet elegiac tale told very much in the style of Rod Serling’s groundbreaking TV and movie script for “Requiem For A Heavyweight,” which aired live in 1956 and later filmed in 1962. In fact, the stylized opening to “A Fistful” is almost identical to Requiem For A Heavyweight
  When I was researching Lee Marvin Point Blank I was amazed to discover the depth and breadth of the actor’s TV work. He proved infinitely more versatile on the small screen than he ever was on the big screen. Even when it came to military-themed stories, as the only time he ever portrayed Marine (which he was in real-life) was on television. Consequently, I devoted an entire chapter just to his TV appearances.
  At the time he appeared on “Fistful” it was during the golden age of television in which anthology programs were sponsored by large corporations that cranked out dozens of unique stand-alone stories without recurring characters. As a result, the quality ultimately suffered. Veteran TV and film director put it best when he said to me, “You must understand that anthology TV is a very difficult form. The canvas is very small in which to develop. Consequently, it wasn’t very good unless you were doing sci-fi or something of that nature. Audiences had to latch on in Scene 1, Act 1 with the character. That’s why anthology never worked. The successful shows were rare ones.” Martinson’s concept probably explains the longevity of Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone.” 
  Several of the supporting cast may look familiar. Marvin, portraying a boxer named Pete Pulaski, aka ‘The Pittsburgh Kid,” is managed by Buddy Lester, probably best known for his appearances in several Jerry Lewis movies. Speaking of Jerry Lewis movies, Pulaski’s trainer is the rotund character actor Stanley Addams. Addams was a friend and neighbor of Lee and Betty Marvin best known for playing Lewis’s bellicose boss in The Errand Boy (1961). 
Written and directed by veteran Allen Miner, he probably got Marvin to do the show based on having written directed several episodes of “M Squad,” which Marvin co-produced. So, with all that in mind, return for a moment to early 1959 and the black and white city realm of a boxer’s faded glory. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein


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LEE MARVIN MAKES LIKE……JERRY LEWIS TELETHON??

Just because I spent nearly 20 years researching Lee Marvin for my book Lee Marvin Point Blank, does not mean I’ve seen everything about him, as I recently discovered this little gem of him which is eerily reminiscent of the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

Lee Marvin, yes, Lee Marvin in the early morning hours of the WHAS telethon.

Anyone not old enough to remember the Jerry Lewis Telethon to benefit those stricken with Muscular Dystrophy, is missing out on a hard-to-explain show business phenomenon the likes of which we’ll probably never see again. Every Labor Day, Jerry Lewis would stay on the air for 22 hours while he begged for money to help his kids. In between were local and major business people, novelty acts, Broadway acts, community volunteers, lots of Vegas acts and literally the biggest names in show business (John Lennon, anyone?). My friends and I looked forward to it every year for one specific reason: Come 3: 00 in the morning, Jerry would get really weird, nasty, snarky and hilarious. “Gimme the damned check and get the hell of the stage,” was said more than once by the King of Comedy. With our dark senses of humor, my friends and I loved it! But I digress..

Jerry Lewis with one of Jerry’s kids on the annual Jerry Lewis Telethon aired every Labor Day.

This clip below was something I recently came across and was quite surprised to see Lee Marvin making like Jerry Lewis. Apparently, it was from 1959, around the time that Marvin was doing “M Squad” and my guess is he was talked into it by his agent, Meyer Mishkin, who always was looking to raise Marvin’s profile where ever and whenever possible. Know as the WHAS Crusade for Children, it still exists to this day as one of the longest running telethons in broadcast history. Named for the station’s call letters out of Louisville, Kentucky, and benefitting local children stricken with Cerebral Palsy and the like, it began in 1954, serving Kentucky and southern Indiana.
In watching the clip, you gotta give Marvin his props. He’s smooth and likable with the kids on live TV and even though he has a cheat sheet binder, he can hold his own with Jerry Lewis any day. It’s dated, it’s blurry and clunky, but watch to the end and the kid with the glasses and bowtie. Hey it’s live TV. Enjoy!
– Dwayne Epstein

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