One of the many people I was lucky enough to be granted an interview with for Lee Marvin: Point Blank was the late, great James Whitmore. Best known for his one-man show performances as Harry Truman, Will Rogers and Teddy Roosevelt, the versatile actor kept active up to the end of his life, stirring audiences with his performance in The Shawshank Redemption. Although his quote did not make the final cut of my manuscript, I present it here — along with a rare photo of Marvin & Whitmore together back in the 50s — the extended quote Whitmore agreed to give me expressing his thoughts on his friend, co-worker and fellow WWII-era Marine, Lee Marvin.
James Whitmore: “I met him in 1953. Did “The Rainmaker” with Lee in La Jolla. Impressed me as a talented, thorough going professional. I played Starbuck. Lee played Noah and he was great. We partied a lot.
As an actor, he had great intensity and focus. Great onstage presence. We had both been in the war as Marines, and just told the usual tall tales. We also both admitted to being scared. What were Lee’s greatest attributes and flaws? Honesty, for both. What stands out most about him in my mind was his energy and lust for life. He was a hell of an actor and a man!”