The 1950s through the 1970s saw an immense amount of Men’s Magazines flood the market and almost every single one of them at one point or another ran an article on Lee Marvin. Doing research on Lee Marvin: Point Blank found yours truly perusing these periodicals but other than the graphics (ahem!) I found most of these articles were simply rehashed material from other sources. The graphics however, were indeed worthy as one such example below can attest. It’s Topper Magazine from July, 1961…….

Cover of Topper Magazine, July 1961

Cover of Topper Magazine, July 1961

Actually, I’ve never heard of this particular one of these Men’s Magazines entry as it must have gone out of print before I could read it. Small wonder as Marvin isn’t even mentioned on the cover of this issue. However,  inside is a terrific photo layout with a brief introduction explaining how the likes of Marvin’s buddy Keenan Wynn, actor Rory Calhoun, Olympic gold medalist Bob Mathias and legendary stuntman Cary Loftin spend a weekend in Malibu. Personally I love the shot of Marvin in Loftin’s motorcycle sidecar. Take note of how Marvin’s address is shown and also Marvin’s lack of helmet, or any other protective gear, for that matter. He simply wears his bathing trunks and cool shades. Ahh, the simpler days. Enjoy….

Introduction of article in Topper

Introduction of the article in Topper concerning Lee & friends enjoying their weekend biking.


1st page of pix from Topper article

1st page of pix with appropriate captions from Topper article.

Page 2 of pix w/ Marvin, Keenan Wynn, Rory Calhoun & Bob Mathias

Page 2 of pix w/ Marvin, Keenan Wynn, Rory Calhoun & Bob Mathias


FInal page of color pix including Lee Marvin's Malibu home

Final page of color pix including shared libations at the bar of Lee Marvin’s Malibu home.

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What exactly is the momentous Marvin memento? Well, a little back story is required. When Lee Marvin came home after the war, he settled with his family in the upstate New York area of Woodstock. The closest friend he made those years after the war was David Ballantine. The two men shared many interests including fishing, hunting and gun collecting. Before Marvin knew what he was going to with his life, and even the years after he decided to become an actor, the entire Ballantine family had a great influence over his life. In fact, it was David’s father, E.J. “Teddy” Ballantine who opened Marvin’s eyes to a life as an actor. David’s brother, Ian, and sister-in-law, Betty, started the very succesful publishing company Ballantine Books. Betty was a trusted confidante to the former combat Marine, so much so that he was her insight that led me to discover Marvin’s PTSD which became a most important theme in Lee Marvin: Point Blank.
In the years following Marvin’s phenomonally successful acting career, his friends and family from Woodstock were never too far from his memory. He would visit whenever he could and when something reminded him of his friends back east, he was sure to let them know it. Case in point, this letter from 1969, written and mailed on Monte Walsh stationary….
ballantine envelope

The contents of the letter were 2-fold. First, a quickly typed letter to David in which Marvin recounts the following anecdote on the beach at Malibu….

Dear David,

You are going to think I’m full of shit but here it is. Yesterday I was walking down the beach amongst the driftwood and trash line and feeling a little possesive, my beach, when I spot this green Scotch bottle, a pint, and know the label used to read Ballantine’s. The cork is still in it and I think, the bastards, why don’t they leave the cork out and then it would eventually sink and not litter up ‘MY BEACH.’ Proceeding to do the same, I pick it up and lo….there is something in it. Ah Ha. Some children have secreted a secret map or call for help in it. Okay, I’ll play the game. I can not pull it out of the slim neck so I bring it back to the house and get a hammer and go out to the trashcan to break it. I DO NOT WANT BROKEN GLASS ON ‘MY BEACH.’ So doing, lo and behold. The rest is self-explanatory. I thought you might get a kick out of it, I did. Love to you all, & Pam,


ballantine letter




What was the 2nd part of the letter that Lee felt was self-explanatory and worthy of writing in the first place? It was of course, the following content of the bottle…..
ballantine content


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In researching Lee Marvin: Point Blank, some of the most intriguing stories about the man were related to me by individuals not necessarily know by the general public. Case in point: Ralph O’Hara. O’Hara was a legend around the bars of Malibu and Santa Monica and as such, he just had to have some good Lee Marvin stories to uncover. Anyone who’s read Lee Marvin: Point Blank knows how true that is. He was also willing to relate his poignant perspective to the end of Lee’s life (pp. 243-244). I can also say that after Christopher Marvin read my book he told me that the next time I see or hear from Ralph that Chirstopher has the $20 he owes him for lending him gas money from Tucson back to Calif after after his father’s funeral in 1987. Unfortunately, I long lost contact with Ralph, who apparently moved down South after he retired from bartending.


Wallawa Whitman National Forest Baker Oregon on set of Paint Your Wagon, July 1968. Ralph J. O’Hara, Julie Ayers, Lee Marvin

During the time I was in contact with Ralph O’Hara I constantly badgered him  for a picture, especially for one with him and Lee. I haranged him for several months but he kept insisting his lawyer would not allow it. Go figure that one out. One day, in the mail, I received the image above. Too ragged to be used for the book, I present the photo here for your perusal. Ralph, if you’re out there and can see this, I thank you once again!

Ralph’s own caption: “Wallawa Whitman National Forest Baker Oregon on set of Paint Your Wagon, July 1968. Ralph J. O’Hara, Julie Ayers, Lee Marvin.”

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