Back in the late 1950s, the idea of actually traveling into space was having renaissance of sorts in popular culture. That includes the likes of Lee Marvin who starred in an episode of the anthology show, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse entitled “Man In Orbit” and costarring E.G. Marshall. The show aired May 11th, 1959, a year after the formation of NASA. Then, almost exactly two years later to the day, came the flight of Alan Shepard on May 5th, 1961. 
 Marvin portrayed Capt. David Roberts, an Air Force pilot scheduled to be the first astronaut but clashes with scientist Eric Carson, played by Marshall. Unfortunately, try as I might, I’ve never seen the episode so I didn’t really mention it in my book. I do however, devote an entire chapter to his prolific TV performances and as readers of Lee Marvin Point Blank know, he proved to be infinitely more versatile on my small screen than he ever was on the big screen. 
All this is mentioned simply because space travel seems to be back in the news again, whether it’s the Space X launch, planned reactivated NASA flights or Trump’s boast of a military Space Force. With that in mind, I can say proudly that I discovered these two rare images from the original broadcast and can display them below….

(L-R) E.G. Marshall as Prof. Carson & Lee Marvin as Capt. David Roberts in MAN IN ORBIT.

Unidentified actor with Marvin & Marshall in MAN IN ORBIT.

Oh and by the way, way too many people, mostly Gen X’ers and Millennials, seem to think John Glenn was the first man in space. This may not be the place to state definitively but let it at least be repeated here. The first man in space was Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and to reiterate, the first American in space was Alan Shepard. Or, as stated in the film The Right Stuff, “The first free man in space.” Then came John Glenn, the first man to orbit the earth….three times! Which is of course impressive but only one Mercury astronaut also went to the moon. Wanna guess which one?
– Dwayne Epstein

Alan Shepard, the first American in space.


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Lee’s TV Show appearance: From the earliest days of live television to the the TV-movies of the late 1980s, Lee Marvin had been a permanent fixture in America’s living rooms in spite of his screen success. An entire chapter of Lee Marvin Point Blank is dedicated to his TV performances in which he proved to be more versatile than he ever was on the big screen. Rather ironic considering he hated the medium of television. His versatility allowed him to do such things as …..

lastrenuinionplay romantic love scenes as shown above with Patricia Donahue in “The Last Reunion” episode of GENERAL ELECTRIC THEATER.

He gave a poignant performance as a brain damaged boxer who must choose between the age-old conflict of his life or his pride in boxer

THE SCHILTZ PLAYHOUSE episode from September 1959 entitled “A Fistful Of Love.”

As manned space flight became a reality, he also played a troubled astronaut alongside E.G. Marshall inorbit


The DESILU PLAYHOUSE production entitled “Man In Orbit” in May of 1959.

His physical appearance had him playing bad guys in westerns in the movies but on TV he played

colgatewesterna western drifter in the title role of “The Easy-Going Man” episode of NBC’s COLGATE WESTERN THEATER.

As his success slowly grew, he was not above appearing in other types of shows simply as himself, such as

gameshowa short-lived game show entitled YOU DON’T SAY with host Tom Kennedy (center) and fellow celebrity contestant, Beverly Garland.

Even after his film success in the mid-sixties he continued to make appearances on such unlikely venues as

bobhopeBob Hope’s comedy specials and as a host of a 1976 TV special highlighting the work of

stuntsof such legendary stuntmen as Dar Robinson (right).






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