Since the Golden Globes airing tonight begins the serious start of this year’s award season derby, it’s worth considering Lee Marvin’s involvement back in the 1960s. It’s of course mentioned within the pages of Lee Marvin Point Blank, but a little more depth is always interesting….isn’t it? Well, even if it isn’t, here it is.
It’s often felt that the Golden Globes — put on by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) — is a sort of precursor to the Oscars. It probably was at one time but with all the awards shows glutting the airwaves these days, it’s hard to tell anymore. The best reason to watch though, is in seeing all the celebrities getting and acting drunk. Sounds like an award show just made for Lee Marvin, doesn’t it?
Marvin was first nominated for a Golden Globe back in 1965 for his dual role in Cat Ballou as broken down, drunk gunslinger, Kid Shelleen and his evil twin brother, Tim Strawn.

Lee Marvin in Cat Ballou as the evil tin-nosed Tim Strawn.

No one was more surprised over the nomination, let alone the victory, than Marvin himself. Drunks are of course favorite performances for Oscar voters but the HFPA doesn’t always agree. The same can be said of dual roles by an actor. What helped Marvin, of course, was his unsung veteran status in films and television. He did win the Globe and went on to win the Oscar, as well. His acceptance speech at the Globes was not nearly as memorable as it would be later when he won the Oscar for the same film. When the thunderous ovation died down, he quipped about his performance, “Oh, I didn’t think it was all THAT funny.”

Golden Glob Winner Samantha Eggar (for The Collector) and Lee Marvin compare trophies at the February, 1966 presentation.

Four years later he was back at the Golden Globes, nominated again in the same category of Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy. I always like the fact that the HFPA separates the performances of Musical/Comedy roles from the Drama category and the year he was nominated (for Paint Your Wagon, no less!) proved an intriguing year indeed. Some of his fellow nominees, all more known for dramatic roles, also sang in their performances. The winner was a warbling Peter O’Toole in the musical remake of Goodbye, Mr. Chips. However, fellow nominee Steve McQueen in The Reivers also sang a few choruses of “Camptown Races” on camera. The non-singing Dustin Hoffman (John & Mary) and Anthony Quinn (The Secret of Santa Vittoria) rounded out the field. Marvin may have finished out of the money, but his nomination was worthy. In my opinion, his performance as Ben Rumson is one of his best, despite the film itself being an overblown, overproduced, over-long albatross. Maybe that should make him more deserving. After all, isn’t it a greater challenge to be impressive in a badly made film than in a good one? Just a thought. Who knows, maybe the HFPA voters will feel the same when they announce the winners tonight.

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dualBallou The 86th annual Oscars airs this Sunday and in honor of the event I’ve decided to post some applicable images and anecdotes of Lee Marvin’s still popular 1965 Best Actor win. It was an unlikely, yet memorable win on many levels. Comedy performances rarely win, nor do multiple roles no matter how impressive. Yet, Marvin’s dual role as both broken-down gunslinger Kid Shelleen and steel-nosed Tim Strawn of Cat Ballou managed to pull it off. Some trick photography of the day above highlights Marvin’s dual personalities.
Marvin’s road to the Oscar began with a call from his press agent and gained momentum as the awards season built up steam. First, there was the Golden Globe victory in which Marvin can be see below comparing notes with fellow GG winner Samantha Eggar who triumphed with The Collector….

At the age of 41, the slow trajectory of Marvin’s film career finally made it to the launch pad with The Killers and the double barreled success of Cat Ballou and Ship of Fools blasted him into the stratosphere. In the weeks leading up to the big night, media outlets couldn’t get enough of Marvin, who obliged them with his own handicap of his long-shot chances. Come the big Oscar night, a flurry of events, that were at turns outrageous, suicidal, nightmarish, poignant, profane, and ultimately triumphant were recounted to this author by the actor’s press agent Paul Wasserman, first wife Betty, and career-long agent Meyer Mishkin exclusively in the pages Lee Marvin Point Blank. A fan even went so far as to chronicle the evening for her scrapbook that she sent to me depicting Lee, presenter Julie Andrews, Best Actress winner Julie Christie and Marvin’s then-girlfriend, Michele Triola (with an incorrect caption, I might add)…

Partying into the night, the puffy-eyed, clearly hung-over actor was forced to hold an impromptu press conference at LAX on the way back to London to the set of director Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen…..
APLAXAldrich hated giving the actor time away from the set for the award and a few years later, when actor Cliff Robertson made the same request when filming Aldrich’s Play Dirty, it was denied, forcing someone else to pick up his Oscar for Charly.
As for Marvin, the last word of the Oscars may be long to a small newspaper in the town of Lakeland, Florida. He hated the formative years he spent their in his youth, thrown from school to school and encountering fist fights wherever he went. Yet, decades later, the Lakeland Ledger had this headline accompanying the AP wire photo from above….

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