Tom Hanks, America’s most beloved star, makes great movies and often makes his TV talk show appearances worth staying up for. He’s charming, funny and extremely well-spoken. However, he can also be as wrong as anybody else, apparently. Case in point, a recent appearance Tom Hanks made in January on “A Late Show with Stephen Colbert.” 

Screen grab of Stephen Colbert’s recent interview with Tom Hanks.

I’m a big fan of Colbert’s show and watch it whenever I can. Granted, he’s no David Letterman, but who is? What he is in reality is a very talented man who is infinitely funnier than his rivals Jimmy Fallon or Jimmy Kimmel. I mention this merely as an introduction to what transpired. Colbert was trying out a new bit with a humorous intro, followed by his guest, Mr. Hanks. They are very comfortable with each other, obviously, and both being Baby Boomers, they make several appropriate generational references. So, along the way, they bring up a Lee Marvin appearance on the old Dick Cavett Show, circa 1970. By the way, that interview can be viewed in its entirety here

Now, here’s the thing. Colbert is mistaken in saying Marvin was there to promote The Dirty Dozen (1967). It’s more likely that he’s there to promote Monte Walsh (1970). Minor faux paux, I grant you. Especially compared to what Tom Hanks states. He even goes so far as to say he saw Marvin recount the tale on the old Johnny Carson Show, which many people like to do as a way to provide greater authenticity. I’m speaking of course about the old urban legend concerning Lee Marvin and Captain Kangaroo (aka Bob Keeshan, not Keesham, as Hanks pronounced it). You would think that the guy who starred brilliantly in Saving Private Ryan (1998), and co-produced Band of Brothers (2001) would know better! Personally, I can’t begin to tell you the amount of times I get asked about this and why I didn’t mention it in Lee Marvin Point Blank. Some things refuse to go gently into that good night. 

Oh, well, as I said, anybody can make a mistake. Hanks does redeem himself when Colbert asked him what his favorite action film is and for that I’ll always be a fan. So, take about 11 minutes to watch the clip and see for yourself at the following link.

Until next time, don’t believe everything Tom Hanks or anybody else says. ALWAYS find out the facts for yourself. 
– Dwayne Epstein

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Dick Cavett, not quite the ‘King of Late Night’ that Johnny Carson was, actually gave Carson a run for his money for a while there in the talk show wars of the 60s and 70s. A former writer for Carson, his style was a little more urbane and his guests slightly more intellectual than Carson’s usual array of Carl Sagan and Charo or Merv Griffin’s infamous ‘theme shows’. Cavett sometimes had headline making events on his show, such as the feud that happened live on the air between Norman Mailer and Gore VIdal, or the time Yippie co-founder Jerry Rubin punched redneck Governor, Lester Maddox.

Screen grab of Lee Marvin’s appearance on the old Dick Cavett show, circa 1970.

Personally, I liked the show best when Dick Cavett went one-on-one with such guests as Laurence Olivier, Katherine Hepburn or Marlon Brando for the entire episode. Recently, I discovered a YouTube video of Cavett doing just that with Lee Marvin, although it was only a segment and not the full episode. That aside, it’s a wonderful time capsule capturing Marvin had the height of his cinematic popularity. He comes off contemplative, naturally humorous and in appearance, every inch a charismatic movie star. Cavett actually seems a little nervous talking with Marvin but then again, that’s not surprising based on how imposing Marvin looks next to him.
In watching the clip, it’s a little startling to see how much Marvin smoked at the time. That and his drinking would of course wreak havoc in a fairly short time, as shown in another interview with co-star Charles Bronson.
Oh, one more thing. Watch the short clip to the end when Marvin surprises his host and audience with his amazing candor concerning his war wound. Readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank were able to read some of the letters he spoke of concerning his mother’s reaction to his getting wounded.
All that said, here now is a wonderful blast from the past. I give you Lee Marvin, circa 1970…

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(L-R) Tom Snyder, Lee Marvin & Don Rickles.

Don Rickles, the legendary insult comedian often appeared on the old Tom Snyder show  and was hysterical as usual. Snyder himself was an old style guy who laughed at himself, chain-smoked cigarettes and too often cut his guests off with rambling tales about himself. That aside, he was smart enough to know that when Rickles was the guest and he was on a roll, it’s best to back off and let the man go. Snyder’s show had two incarnations: “Tomorrow” on NBC (1973-1981) which ran after Johnny Carson and “The Late, Late Show” (1995-1999) which ran on CBS after “Late Night with David Letterman.” This clip is from Snyder’s CBS run, based on the color of his hair.

Recently, a friend on Facebook discovered this clip of Don Rickles on such a roll. Below is the video of Rickles doing just that and his subject is none other than Lee Marvin, himself. Rickles style was like no other and it is undeniably politically incorrect than these more “enlightened” times. He is of course an acquired taste so if his style offends, you’re missing out. Keep in mind, his style is often one of comedic exaggeration which he does brilliantly here. However, based on the subject, it’s doubtful that he’s actually exaggerating anything. Further proof can be found in the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank in which others have told me equally hilarious stories of Lee Marvin’s outrageous behavior, drunk or sober. Jack Palance and Beverly Garland told me two of my favorites that won’t be retold here but must be read to be savored.
Okay, all that said, without further ado, I give you Don Rickles with Tom Snyder on the subject of a chance meeting with Lee Marvin at the famous New York eatery and bar, Danny’s Hideaway. Enjoy….
– Dwayne Epstein

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