In March of 1962 Lee Marvin became involved with one of the most offbeat yet personally rewarding projects of his career. At the request of clinical pyschiatrist Dr. Harry Willner, the actor advised and oversaw a production of “People Need People,” perfomed entirely by San Quentin prisoners!
As described in Lee Marvin: Point Blank, Willner and Marvin struck up a friendship when the original show was in production a few months before. The show was the debut production of the short-lived anthology “Alcoa Premiere” and was based on the actual case histories of Willner’s work. Willner was a pioneer in the treatment of combat veterans via the then unheard use of group therapy. The stellar cast of the original show included Arthur Kennedy as Willner as well as James Gregory, Marion Ross, Paul Sand, Bert Remsen, Joey Forman and Keir Dullea. The standout, of course, was Lee Marvin as Sgt. Hughes, the most violent and hardcase member of the new group. It would be one of the few times the actor played a Marine on screen and the only time he would win an Emmy Award nomination for Best Actor.
When Willner later approached Marvin about the San Quentin production, he jumped at the chance. What he was slightly more reluctant about was any publicity surrounding the prison show. A gold mine of free p.r., Marvin preferred to downplay the show and his involvement in it for the most obvious reasons: He did it because he believed in it, not from any positive buzz he could generate from it.
The sole publicity the actor agreed to was a short radio piece done by popular L.A. correspondent, Ralph Story. Story was given exclusive access to the rehearsal process and filed the following story. The pages seen below are Ralph Story’s own original copy (with a few of his own handwritten changes) that were broadcast over CBS Radio more than 50 years ago. Read, enjoy, and know this was something Marvin and everyone invovled did NOT do for the money….