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Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 August 29, 1987)

was an American lm and television actor.[1] Known for
his distinctive voice, white hair and 6 ft 1 1 2 in (187
cm)[2] stature, Marvin initially appeared in supporting
roles, mostly villains, soldiers and other hardboiled characters. From 1957 to 1960, he starred as Detective Lieutenant Frank Ballinger in the NBC crime series, M Squad.

Heart, the Presidential Unit Citation, the Asiatic-Pacic

Campaign Medal and the World War II Victory Medal.
Contrary to rumors, Marvin did not serve with producer
and actor Bob Keeshan (later best known as Captain Kangaroo) during World War II.[10]

In 1966 he won several awards, including an Academy 3 Career

Award for Best Actor, and Best Actor BAFTA and the
Best Actor Golden Globe, for his dual roles in Cat Ballou. After the war, while working as a plumber's assistant at
a local community theatre in Upstate New York, Marvin
was asked to replace an actor who had fallen ill during rehearsals. He then began an amateur o-Broadway acting
1 Early life
career in New York City and eventually made it to Broada small role in the original production of Billy
Marvin was born in New York City. He was the son of way with
Lamont Waltman Marvin, an advertising executive and
the head of the New York and New England Apple Institute, and his wife Courtenay Washington (ne Davidge), a
fashion writer and beauty consultant.[3] As with his older
brother, Robert, he was named in honor of Confederate
General Robert E. Lee, who was his rst cousin, four
times removed. His father was a direct descendant of
Matthew Marvin, Sr., who emigrated from Great Bentley, Essex, England in 1635 and helped found Hartford,

In 1950, Marvin moved to Hollywood. He found work

in supporting roles, and from the beginning was cast in
various war lms. As a decorated combat veteran, Marvin was a natural in war dramas, where he frequently assisted the director and other actors in realistically portraying infantry movement, arranging costumes, and the
use of rearms. His debut was in You're in the Navy Now
(1951), and in 1952 he appeared in several lms, including Don Siegel's Duel at Silver Creek, Hangmans Knot,
and the war drama Eight Iron Men. He played Gloria
Grahame's vicious boyfriend in Fritz Lang's The Big Heat
(1953). Marvin had a small but memorable role in The
Wild One (1953) opposite Marlon Brando (Marvins gang
in the lm was called The Beetles), followed by Seminole (1953) and Gun Fury (1953). He also had a notable
small role as smart-aleck sailor Meatball in The Caine
Mutiny. He had a substantially more important part as
Hector, the small-town hood in Bad Day at Black Rock
(1955) with Spencer Tracy.[12] Also in 1955, he played
the interesting role of a somewhat lovelorn and touching
(though thoroughly no-good) bank-robber in Violent Saturday.

Marvin studied violin when he was young.[4] As a

teenager, Marvin spent weekends and spare time hunting deer, puma, wild turkey and bobwhite in the wilds of
the then-uncharted Everglades.[5]
He attended Manumit School, a Christian socialist boarding school in Pawling, New York, during the late 1930s,
and later attended St. Leo College Preparatory School in
St. Leo, Florida after being expelled from several other
schools for bad behavior.[6]

Military service

During the mid-1950s, Marvin gradually began playing

more important roles. He starred in Attack, (1956) and
had a supporting role in the Western Seven Men from
Now (1956). He also starred in The Missouri Traveler
(1958) but it took over 100 episodes as Chicago cop
Frank Ballinger in the successful 19571960 television
series M Squad to actually give him name recognition.[13]
One critic described the show as a hyped-up, violent
Dragnet... with a hard-as-nails Marvin playing a tough
police lieutenant. Marvin received the role after gueststarring in a memorable Dragnet episode as a serial

In August 1942 Marvin left school to enlist in the United

States Marine Corps, serving with the 4th Marine Division in the Pacic Theater of World War II.[7] He was
wounded in action during the Battle of Saipan, in the assault on Mount Tapochau, during which most of his unit
(I Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, 4th Marine
Division) were killed.[8] His injury was from machine gun
re, which severed his sciatic nerve.[9] Marvin was given
a medical discharge with the rank of Private First Class
in 1945 at Philadelphia.[10] His awards were the Purple



Marvin in 1959 from the set of M Squad

Marvin in Attack

epic The Dirty Dozen (1967) in which top-billed Marvin again portrayed an intrepid commander of a colorful group (future stars John Cassavetes, Charles Bronson,
Telly Savalas, Jim Brown, and Donald Sutherland) performing an almost impossible mission. In the wake of
these two lms and after having received an Oscar, Marvin was a huge star, given enormous control over his next
lm Point Blank.

In the 1960s, Marvin was given prominent supporting

roles in such lms as The Comancheros (1961), John
Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), and
Donovans Reef (1963), all starring John Wayne, with
Marvins roles getting larger with each lm. As the vicious Liberty Valance, Marvin played his rst title role
and held his own with two of the screens biggest stars In Point Blank, an inuential lm for director John Boor(Wayne and James Stewart).[15]
man, he portrayed a hard-nosed criminal bent on revenge.
For director Don Siegel, Marvin appeared in The Killers Marvin, who had selected Boorman himself for the di(1964) playing an ecient professional assassin alongside rectors slot, had a central role in the lms development,
Clu Gulager. The Killers was also the rst lm in which plot line, and staging. In 1968, Marvin also appeared in
another Boorman lm, the critically acclaimed but comMarvin received top billing.[16]
mercially unsuccessful World War II character study Hell
Television series guest appearances he has been in include
in the Pacic, also starring famed Japanese actor Toshiro
Wagon Train, The Twilight Zone both a couple episodes,
Mifune. Marvin was originally cast as Pike Bishop (later
Bonanza and a couple Bob Hope Television Specials.
played by William Holden) in The Wild Bunch (1969),
Playing alongside Vivien Leigh and Simone Signoret, but fell out with director Sam Peckinpah and pulled out
Marvin won the 1966 National Board of Review Award in order to star in the Western musical Paint Your Wagon
for male actors for his role in Ship of Fools (1965).[17][N 1] (1969), in which he was top-billed over a singing Clint
Marvin won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Actor for Eastwood. Despite his limited singing ability, he had a
his comic role in the obeat Western Cat Ballou starring hit song with "Wand'rin' Star". By this time he was getJane Fonda. He also won the 1965 Silver Bear for Best ting paid a million dollars per lm, $200,000 less than
Actor at the 15th Berlin International Film Festival.[21]
top star Paul Newman was making at the time; yet he was
about the lm business, even with its nancial
Marvin next performed in the hit Western The Profession- ambivalent
als (1966), in which he played the leader of a small band
of skilled mercenaries (Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan, and
Woody Strode) rescuing a kidnap victim (Claudia Cardinale) shortly after the Mexican Revolution. He followed that lm with the hugely successful World War II

You spend the rst forty years of your life trying to get in this business, and the next forty
years trying to get out. And then when you're


Community property case

making the bread, who needs it?"

Marvin had a much greater variety of roles in the 1970s
and 1980s, with fewer 'bad-guy' roles than in earlier
years. His 1970s lms included Monte Walsh (1970)
with Jeanne Moreau, the violent Prime Cut (1972) with
Gene Hackman, Pocket Money (1972) with Paul Newman, Emperor of the North Pole (1973) opposite Ernest
Borgnine, as Hickey in The Iceman Cometh (1973) with
Fredric March and Robert Ryan, The Spikes Gang (1974)
with Noah Beery, Jr., The Klansman (1974) with Richard
Burton, Shout at the Devil (1976) with Roger Moore,
The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday (1976) with
Oliver Reed, and Avalanche Express (1978) with Robert
Shaw. Marvin was oered the role of Quint in Jaws
(1975) but declined, stating What would I tell my shing
friends who'd see me come o a hero against a dummy
Marvins last big role was in Samuel Fuller's The Big Red
One (1980), a war lm based on Fullers own war experiences. His remaining lms were Death Hunt (1981) with
Charles Bronson, Gorky Park (1983), Dog Day (1984),
and The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission (1985; a sequel with
Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Richard Jaeckel picking up
where they'd left o despite being 18 years older); his - Gravestone, Arlington National Cemetery
nal appearance was in The Delta Force (1986) with Chuck

4.2 Community property case

Personal life

During the 1970s, Marvin resided o and on in Woodstock, caring for his dying father,[24] and as a keen sherman he used to make regular trips to Australia to engage
in shing for marlin at Cairns and Great White Shark
at Port Fairy.[25] In 1975 Marvin and his second wife
Pamela moved to Tucson, Arizona, where he lived until
his death.
Marvin was a Democrat who opposed the Vietnam War.
He publicly endorsed John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.[16]


Marriages and children

A father of four, Marvin was married twice. His rst

marriage to Betty Ebeling began in February 1951 and
ended in divorce on January 5, 1967; during this time
his hobbies included sport shing o the Baja California coast and duck hunting along the Mexican border
near Mexicali.[5] He and Ebeling had a son, Christopher (19522013),[26] and three daughters: Courtenay
(b. 1954), Cynthia (b. 1956) and Claudia (19582012).[27][28]

See also Marvin v. Marvin

In 1971, Marvin was sued by Michelle Triola, his livein girlfriend from 1965 to 1970, who legally changed
her surname to Marvin.[4] Although the couple never
married, she sought nancial compensation similar to
that available to spouses under Californias alimony and
community property laws. Triola claimed Marvin made
her pregnant three times and paid for two abortions, while
one pregnancy ended in miscarriage.[30] She claimed the
second abortion left her unable to bear children.[30] The
result was the landmark "palimony" case, Marvin v. Marvin, 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).[31] In 1979, Marvin was
ordered to pay $104,000 to Triola for rehabilitation
purposes but the court denied her community property
claim for one-half of the $3.6 million which Marvin
had earned during their six years of cohabitation distinguishing non-marital relationship contracts from marriage, with community property rights only attaching to
the latter by operation of law. Rights equivalent to community property only apply in non-marital relationship
contracts when the parties expressly, whether orally or in
writing, contract for such rights to operate between them.
In August 1981, the California Court of Appeal found
there was no such contract, and thus nullied the award
she had received.[32][33] Michelle Triola died of lung cancer on October 30, 2009.[34]

Marvin was married to Pamela Feeley from October 18,

1970 until his death.[29]
This case was used as fodder for a mock debate skit on


Saturday Night Live called Point Counterpoint,[35] and 9.2 Citations

on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as a skit
[1] Obituary Variety, September 2, 1987.
with Carson as Adam, and Betty White as Eve.[36]


In December 1986, Marvin underwent intestinal surgery

after suering abdominal pains while at his ranch outside
Tucson. Doctors said then that there was an inammation
of the colon, but that no malignancy was found. After
being hospitalized for more than two weeks because of
a run-down condition related to the u, Marvin died of
a heart attack on August 29, 1987.[37] He is interred at
Arlington National Cemetery where his headstone reads
Lee Marvin, PFC, US Marine Corps, World War II.[38]

[2] Lee Marvin height: 6 ft 1.5 in (188 cm). Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[3] Lee
11, 2013.


[4] Ebert, Roger. An interview with Lee Marvin. Chicago

Sun-Times for Esquire, October 1970.
[5] Elk Hunting with Lee Marvin. Gun World, May 1964;
retrieved October 11, 2013.
[6] Zec 1980, pp. 2025.
[7] Wise and Rehill 1999, p. 43.
[8] Zec 1980, p. 38.

Selected lmography

Television appearances

[9] The real thing: Marvin and Point Blank. The First Post,
February 15, 2007; retrieved October 11, 2013.
[10] Captain Kangaroo Court, Snopes, May 24, 2009; retrieved August 13, 2015.

Marvins appearances on television included Suspense (1

episode, 1950), Rebound, M Squad, Climax!, Bi Baker,
U.S.A., Dragnet, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Ford Show Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford,
General Electric Theater, The Americans, The Investigators, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, Route 66, The Untouchables, Checkmate, The Dick Powell Show, Combat!,
The Twilight Zone, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Dr. Kildare,
Wagon Train, Bonanza, The Virginian and The Muppet

[11] Epstein 2013, p. 67.

[18] Bean 2013, p. 155.

See also

[12] Epstein 2013, pp. 9596.

[13] Epstein 2013, p. 112.
[14] Epstein 2013, p. 79.
[15] Epstein 2013, p. 124.
[16] Epstein 2013, p. 135.
[17] Awards: Ship of Fools (1965). IMDb. Retrieved: October 11, 2013.

[19] David 1995, p. 46.

The Sons of Lee Marvin, a tongue-in-cheek secret

[20] Walker 1987, p. 281.
society dedicated to Marvin
Welcome to Night Vale, which features Lee Marvin
as an integral piece of its mythology and supporting

[21] Berlinale 1965: Prize Winners. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin. Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[22] Zec 1980, p. 217.
[23] Epstein 2013, p. 202.



[1] The lm proved to be Leighs last lm and her anguished

portrayal of a desperate older woman was punctuated
by her real-life battle with demons.[18] Leighs performance was tinged by paranoia and resulted in outbursts
that marred her relationship with other actors, although
both Simone Signoret and Marvin were sympathetic and
understanding.[19] In one unusual instance, she hit Marvin
so hard with a spiked shoe, that it marked his face.[20]

[24] Flick, A.J. Marvin in Love. Classic Movies, 1997. Retrieved: October 12, 2013.
[25] Want to see a marlin?" The Cairns Post website. Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[26] Obituary Christopher Marvin
[27] Epstein 2013, p. 256.
[28] Obituary: Claudia Leslie Marvin, All-States Cremation;
retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[29] Marvin 1997, p. 12.

[30] Woo, Elaine. Michelle Triola Marvin dies at 75; her legal ght with ex-lover Lee Marvin added 'palimony' to
the language, Los Angeles Times, October 31, 2009. Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[31] 18 C3d 660: Marvin v. Marvin (1976).
Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[32] Laskin, Jerry. California 'Palimony' Law; An Overview.
Goldman & Kagon Law Corporation. Retrieved: October
11, 2013.
[33] Unmarried Cohabitants Right to Support and Property. Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[34] " 'Palimony' gure Michelle Triola Marvin dies, Associated Press, October 30, 2009.
[35] Point Counterpoint: Lee Marvin & Michelle Triola.
NBC, March 17, 1979. Retrieved: October 11, 2013.
[36] The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. on YouTube
Carson Entertainment Group, February 9, 1979, retrieved
October 11, 2013.
[37] Hevesi, Dennis. Lee Marvin, Movie Tough Guy, Dies,
The New York Times, August 31, 1987; retrieved October
11, 2013.
[38] Lee Marvin. Retrieved: October 11,



Bean, Kendra. Vivien Leigh: An Intimate Portrait.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Running Press, 2013.
ISBN 978-0-76245-099-2.
David, Catherine. Simone Signoret. New York:
Overlook Press, 1995. ISBN 978-0-87951-581-2.
Epstein, Dwayne. Lee Marvin: Point Blank. Tucson,
Arizona: Schaner Press, Inc., 2013. ISBN 978-193618-240-4.
Marvin, Pamela. Lee: A Romance. London: Faber
& Faber Limited, 1997. ISBN 978-0-571-19028-7.
Walker, Alexander. Vivien: The Life of Vivien
Leigh. New York: Grove Press, 1987. ISBN 08021-3259-6.
Wise, James E. and Anne Collier Rehill. Stars in
the Corps: Movie Actors in the United States Marines.
Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1999.
ISBN 978-1-55750-949-9.
Zec, Donald. Marvin: The Story of Lee Marvin.
New York: St. Martins Press, 1980. ISBN 0-31251780-7.

10 External links
Lee Marvin at the Internet Movie Database
Lee Marvin at the Internet Broadway Database
Prole of Marvin in Film Comment
Lee Marvin at Find a Grave




Text and image sources, contributors, and licenses


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