Pillars of the Sky ad, with Lee Marvin, Jeff Chandler & a very young Martin Milner.


Veteran actor Martin Milner may not seem like a likely candidate for a wealth of great anecdotes concerning Lee Marvin but when I interviewed him he proved to be just that! He worked with Marvin several times in his career in both film and television, with each project providing great fodder for useable stories. In fact, he had such a miniscule role in the above advertised film, 1957’s Pillars of The Sky (Lee Marvin Point Blank, pp. 102-103) he didn’t even receive billing. Nevertheless, his short stint on the project provided the following anecdote not used in the the book but still worth telling here….

Martin Milner:

We were doing Pillars of The Sky (1956). We were on location in Oregon. I was only going to be up there like 10 days. I had a small part in the film. Lee was there for the duration. I was there over one weekend, or two. Lee and I both decided we wanted to go fishing because we both love to fish.
One of the guys, the location manager, or somebody, made arrangements with the local Lincoln dealer to loan us a car and some fishing equipment. We didn’t have anything with us. The fishing equipment was supposed to be in the car. I don’t remember if it was from a sporting goods store but somehow or other, the package was in the car and the car was in the hotel garage. The instructions was for us to go down there Sunday morning. There’ll be a Lincoln. It’ll be unlocked. The keys will be in it and the fishing equipment will be in the car. Sunday comes, Lee and I go down there. Somebody else went with us but I don’t remember who. We go up to this lake and we spend the day fishing. We find this nice brand new Lincoln with fishing equipment and that’s pretty nice. We got in, we drove to this lake which was about two hours away. We got back that night about 8:00. I was finished in the movie. I had stayed over a day to go fishing. I got on a plane at 8:00 the next morning and flew home. Lee stayed there.
I got home and my agent called. he said, “You are in a world of trouble.” I said, “What happened?” He said, that whoever this head of Universal was, his brother had driven this brand new Lincoln to Oregon to go fishing. Lee and I gone down and stolen the car out of the garage and gone for the day. I guess that guy only had like one day up there to go fishing. He’d chosen that place obviously because he could get comped because the movie company was there. We took his car. I laughed like hell when my agent told me this.
We made an honest mistake. There was another old Lincoln there full of fishing stuff that we were supposed to take. We took the wrong car. We took the wrong Lincoln. We took the brand new one that belonged to the head of production’s brother. So when my agent told me the story, I laughed. he said, “Don’t laugh. You’re going in to see the head of the studio this afternoon to explain what happened.” I said, “What about Lee?” He said, “Lee’s not there. He’s back on location and he can’t come. You gotta go in and explain this thing.” So I went in and I went into to this guy’s office and explained what happened. It wasn’t life altering. He understood how the mistake was made. The car was fine but his brother had lost a day of fishing. That was one funny story that happened when Lee and I were together.
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  1. Only in Hollywood (on location, but still, actors, ya know, gotta love ’em). Thanks for putting a great smile in my face. I needed it. Love Martin’s attitude. Great story, as usual. Thanks Dwayne!

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