VETERANS DAY: LEE MARVIN’S POSTWAR YEARS

With Veterans Day upon us, it’s a perfect time to write about Lee Marvin’s understandably complex emotions regarding his time in the service after his harrowing time in the war. That harrowing experience is detailed in his own words in Lee Marvin Point Blank as never before, but what of his thoughts after the war?
Well, for starters, as the war was winding down in the summer of 1945, there’s this copy of a letter Lee’s father Monte Marvin typed to Robert Marvin, Lee’s brother, who was still overseas…..

Monte Marvin's letter to son Robert on how Lee Marvin is surviving civilian life.

Monte Marvin’s letter to son Robert on how Lee Marvin is surviving civilian life.

Reading Monte’s letter to Robert, it doesn’t take much see how bitter Lee Marvin really was after the war. He grappled with those feelings the rest of his life and channeled much of what he was feeling into his acting. Fortunately for him, he was not alone as the postwar years meant many projects and people dealing with the same feelings…..

A purposely double-xposed photo of Lee Marvin and another actor onstage at the Maverick Theater in the play HOME OF THE BRAVE.

A purposely double-exposed photo of Lee Marvin and another actor onstage at the Maverick Theater in the play HOME OF THE BRAVE.

Once he decided to become an actor, Lee Marvin spent more time in uniform in theatrical productions on stage and on film than probably any other actor and clearly, that was no accident. He felt an obvious obligation to honestly portray what he went through despite the toll it had taken on him both physically and psychologically. His undiagnosed PTSD (also explored at length in the book) raged on through years of Veterans Days, Memorial Days, and more.
When Johnny Carson once asked him if he went to any USMC reunions, Marvin joked that he only went to a few and stopped after hearing the same boring lies and war stories.  The truth is he stayed in contact with other soldiers from his outfit and when the opportunity presented itself, he did whatever he could to help the cause of his fellow Marines. Besides donations to appropriate charities, one example combined both charity and heightened awareness. At the height of his cinema popularity, he took time to host and narrate a TV special entitled “Our Time in Hell”…..

The Hollywood Reporter (left) and the L.A. Times (right) both did write-ups on Lee Marvin's appearance and donation for a TV documentary of rare WWII footage of the USMC in action.

The Hollywood Reporter (left) and the L.A. Times (right) both did write-ups on Lee Marvin’s appearance and donation for a TV documentary of rare WWII footage of the USMC in action.

The title of the show may seem obvious but it also came from an often stated short poem whose author is unknown but who’s sentiment is not:
“And when he gets to heaven,
to Saint Peter he will tell:
‘Another Marine reporting, sir,
I’ve served my time in hell.’ ”

Publicity photo for OUR TIME IN HELL.

Publicity photo for OUR TIME IN HELL.

I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say Lee Mavin did much to help us understand what veterans have done for us and what they went through at a very high cost both during and after their service. So, in honor of that tremendous sacrifice, thank you veterans and may you always be treated with the dignity and respect you deserve. Happy Veterans Day!

 

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LEE MARVIN’S USMC CHARITY WORK

USMC Charity Work

Lee Marvin & charity are not words that are often thought of in the same sentence but they certainly came together when it came to the actor’s dedication to the USMC. Throughout his life, he would often give generously to Marine-related causes, but usually kept a low-profie about it. Of course, if media attention meant bringing more attention to the cause, then he would certainly do so. In 1968, at the height of his popularity, he was the on-air host and narrator of an ABC-TV special entitled, “Our Time in Hell” featuring recently discovered color footage of embattled WWII Marines in the Pacific. He waived his fee for the show and instead, had it turned over to an organization that helped civilian victims of the Vietnam War, as recounted in Lee Marvin Point Blank (p. 172). Below, are two more examples of Lee being recognized for his charity work with the USMC. All that his known of these events are what is written on the back of the pictures…..

MARINE2

Lee Marvin recives a USMC award for his charity work

Above simply states “Marine Award, 1966.” The gentleman to the right is unknown.

MARINE1

Lee Marvin presents (recieves?) a check for his USMC work.

The above photo is from The CItizen News archives and is also an unknown event but appears to be Lee happily presenting (or recieving?) a check from a USMC officer. Neither gentlemen other than Marvin are known. Anybody want to chime in with information? Please do!

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