Lee Marvin


Actor
Lee Marvin

About

Birth Place
New York City, New York, USA
Born
February 19, 1924
Died
August 29, 1987
Cause of Death
Heart Attack

Biography

Having started out portraying sadistic bad guys in a number of notable film noirs, actor Lee Marvin was propelled to stardom and leading man status following his Oscar-winning performance as two characters in the classic Western comedy "Cat Ballou" (1965). Prior to that particular triumph, Marvin began making a name for himself with supporting roles in "The Wild One' (1953) and "The Big ...

Photos & Videos

The Dirty Dozen - Movie Poster
Cat Ballou - Movie Poster
Point Blank - Behind-the-Scenes Photos

Family & Companions

Betty Edling
Wife
Divorced.
Michelle Triola
Companion
Actor, dancer. Born c. 1933; together 1964-70; legally changed last name, sued Marvin for $3,800,000 in palimony, was awarded $104,000.
Pamela Feeley
Wife
Married 1970 until his death; was a friend from childhood; wrote a memoir that was published in 1997.

Bibliography

"Lee Marvin: His Films and Career"
Robert J Lentz, McFarland (2000)
"Lee: A Romance"
Pamela Marvin, Faber and Faber (1997)

Biography

Having started out portraying sadistic bad guys in a number of notable film noirs, actor Lee Marvin was propelled to stardom and leading man status following his Oscar-winning performance as two characters in the classic Western comedy "Cat Ballou" (1965). Prior to that particular triumph, Marvin began making a name for himself with supporting roles in "The Wild One' (1953) and "The Big Heat" (1953), with the latter showcasing a famed scene where his menacing character threw scalding coffee in Gloria Grahame's face. Later in the decade, he had a stint as an investigator of organized crime on the briefly popular "M Squad" (NBC, 1957-1960), which helped turn the actor into star. Following turns as a sadistic cowboy in "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955), the titular murderer in "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" (1962), and a methodical assassin in "The Killers" (1964), Marvin changed the course of his career with his Academy Award-worthy performance in "Cat Ballou." From there, Marvin portrayed characters whose inescapable use of violence was nonetheless heroic: he was an avenging member of a Western posse in "The Professionals" (1966), the leader of a squad of soldier-convicts sent on a suicide mission in "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), and a cold, vengeance-mind thief in the unrelenting crime thriller "Point Blank" (1967). His career crested with a co-starring role in the notorious Western musical "Paint Your Wagon" (1969), in which he displayed one of the worst singing voices in cinema history, before hitting a slow, downward slope throughout the 1970s with underwhelming films like "The Klansman" (1974), "Shout at the Devil" (1976) and "Avalanche Express" (1978). Marvin rebounded late in his career with two excellent movies - the gruesome World War II epic "The Big Red One" (1980) and the methodical crime thriller set in Soviet Russia, "Gorky Park" (1984), both of which helped put an exclamation point on a sterling career.

Born on Feb. 19, 1924 in New York City, Marvin was raised by his father, Lamont, an advertising executive who was the head of New York and New England Apple Institute, and his mother, Courtenay, a fashion and beauty magazine editor. Though he studied violin at a young age, Marvin did not harbor any artistic ambitions until later in life. Meanwhile, he found himself being kicked out of one boarding school after another; at one time because he threw a roommate from a second-floor window, until finally landing at Lakewood High School in Florida. He moved on to St. Leo's Prep School in Dade County, only to drop out in 1942. Marvin went back to graduate in order to join the U.S. Marines against his father's wishes. Serving as a sniper scout in the 4th Marine Division, Marvin saw action in the South Pacific, only to get wounded in action during the Battle of Saipan, where most of his platoon was wiped out. His wound severed a nerve below the spine and required 13 months of hospitalization, which ultimately invalidated him for further service.

After receiving a Purple Heart and his medical discharge, Marvin began working as a plumber's assistant at a local community theater in upstate New York, where he was asked to fill in for a sick actor during rehearsals. Enjoying his taste of acting, he went on to study the craft at the American Theatre Wing in New York City on the G.I. Bill, and soon began appearing off-Broadway and in summer stock. In 1950, Marvin moved to Hollywood and made his film debut with a bit part in director Fred Zinnemann's "Teresa" (1950). He followed with a more substantial role in the Gary Cooper comedy "You're in the Navy Now" (1951), directed by Henry Hathaway, before heading back to New York for a Broadway appearance in "Billy Budd" (1951). Following tours in productions of "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "The Hasty Heart," Marvin signed a contract with Columbia, which led to roles in "The Wild One" (1953) and "The Big Heat" (1953), in which he played an out-of-control thug who famously throws hot coffee in Gloria Grahame's face. He next portrayed a dimwitted and sadistic cowboy who menaces Spencer Tracy in "Bad Day at Black Rock" (1955), before landing supporting roles in the crime drama "Violent Saturday" (1955) and the Western "Seven Men from Now" (1956).

Turning to television, Marvin starred on the series "M Squad" (NBC, 1957-1960), which cast him as a plainclothes detective who is a member of a special squad with the Chicago Police Department that takes on organized crime. Though only lasting three seasons, the show turned Marvin into a star and helped propel his feature career. He landed a couple of amiable parts in the John Wayne pictures "Comancheros" (1961) and "Donovan's Reef" (1963) before playing the titular killer in John Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" (1962). Settling comfortably into villainous roles, Marvin shined as a methodical assassin in Don Siegel's excellent film noir, "The Killers" (1964), which was based on an Ernest Hemingway short story. In the Western-comedy "Cat Ballou" (1965), Marvin played the dual roles of a ruthless assassin and a hopeless alcoholic hired by the titular schoolmarm-turned-posse leader (Jane Fonda) tracking down her father's killer (Marvin). The two performances earned Marvin widespread critical kudos, as well as an Academy Award for Best Actor.

By the late 1960s, Marvin had become a major star that headlined important box office vehicles like the Richard Brooks Western, "The Professionals" (1966), in which he joined an all-star team of Burt Lancaster, Robert Ryan and Jack Palance to track down a businessman's wife (Claudia Cardinale) kidnapped by a renegade band of Mexican thugs. He next led a crew of soldiers from a military prison on a suicide mission to storm a French chateau housing top Nazi officers in the World War II-set thriller "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), a great action yarn that became one of the highest-grossing movies of the decade. Marvin followed up with an incendiary performance as a professional thief out to get revenge against a fellow mobster who double-crossed him in the classic crime thriller, "Point Blank" (1967), directed by John Boorman. The role epitomized the actor's onscreen shift from unprincipled villainy to stoic self-defense regardless of what side of the law he found himself. Meanwhile, he had starring roles in "Hell in the Pacific" (1968) and "Sergeant Ryker" (1968) before displaying an embarrassing singing voice for the critically maligned musical Western, "Paint Your Wagon" (1969), which became notorious at the time for its runaway budget and delayed production.

Entering the next decade, Marvin embarked on a series of underwhelming movies with a few that managed to stand apart from the failures of that era. He delivered the goods as an over-the-hill cowboy unwilling to give up his ways in "Monte Walsh" (1972) and as an ill-tempered agent in the Don Siegel-like crime thriller "Prime Cut" (1972). Following a turn as the King of the Hoboes in "The Emperor of the North Pole" (1973), Marvin was a small town sheriff trying to keep the peace during an impending racial war in the rather silly melodrama "The Klansman" (1974). He next played a boozy Irishman in the clumsy World War I comedy "Shout at the Devil" (1976) before joining British icon Oliver Reed as a pair of con men in the forgotten broad comedy "The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday" (1976). Following the cold war thriller "Avalanche Express" (1978), Marvin saw his career take a back seat when he became involved in a landmark legal case that made headlines in 1979. Former live-in girlfriend, Michelle Triola, who legally changed her last name to Marvin, sued the actor, claiming he had promised to support her for the rest of her life, stemming from their cohabitation from 1965-1970. Although Triola wanted half of the $3.8 million Marvin had earned while they were together, a judge ruled there was no contract, establishing the California courts' "palimony doctrine." The judge did order Marvin to pay $104,000 - $1000 a week for two years - in assistance, only to have the order nullified on appeal in 1981.

Marvin had his last significant role in director Samuel Fuller's violent war epic, "The Big Red One" (1980), in which he played an army sergeant who leads a young infantry platoon through tours across North Africa and Europe, culminating in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp. Exceedingly violent and deeply moving, "The Big Red One" was ranked as one of the best war movies ever made and gave Marvin a huge boost in a career that had been lagging for well over a decade. After co-starring with Charles Bronson and Angie Dickinson in the historically based action thriller "Death Hunt" (1981), Marvin played a devious fur dealer in Michael Apted's adaptation of Martin Cruz Smith's "Gorky Park" (1983). Going back to the well, he reprised his role from two decades prior for "The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission" (NBC, 1985), a made-for-TV movie that revolved around a plot to assassinate Hitler. Marvin's final role proved to be a teaming with Chuck Norris to take on bad guys comic-book style in the action flick "The Delta Force" (1986). Health issues began to crop up when Marvin complained of abdominal pains in December 1986, leading to intestinal surgery. A mere nine months later, in August 1987, he was hospitalized for two weeks with flu-like symptoms. Marvin suffered a fatal heart attack on Aug. 29, 1987 in Tucson, AZ and was interred in Arlington National Cemetery as a war veteran. He was 63 years old.

Filmography

 

Cast (Feature Film)

The Big Red One: The Reconstruction (2005)
Cast
The Spencer Tracy Legacy (1986)
The Delta Force (1986)
Colonel Nick Alexander
Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission (1985)
Canicule (1984)
Gorky Park (1983)
Death Hunt (1981)
Sergeant Edgar Millen
Breathless (1980)
Sergeant
Samuel Fuller & The Big Red One (1979)
Himself
Avalanche Express (1979)
The Great Scout And Cathouse Thursday (1976)
Sam Longwood
Shout at the Devil (1976)
The Klansman (1974)
Sheriff Bascomb
The Spikes Gang (1974)
Harry Spikes
Emperor of the North Pole (1973)
The Iceman Cometh (1973)
Prime Cut (1972)
Nick Devlin
Pocket Money (1972)
Leonard
Monte Walsh (1970)
Monte Walsh
Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Ben Rumson
Tonight Let's All Make Love in London (1968)
Hell in the Pacific (1968)
American soldier
Sergeant Ryker (1968)
Sgt. Paul Ryker
The Dirty Dozen (1967)
Major Reisman
Point Blank (1967)
Walker
Tonite Let's All Make Love in London (1967)
Himself
The Professionals (1966)
Henry Rico Fardan
Ship of Fools (1965)
Tenny
Cat Ballou (1965)
Kid Shelleen/Tim Strawn
The Killers (1964)
Charlie
Donovan's Reef (1963)
Aloysius "Boats" Gilhooley
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
Liberty Valance
The Comancheros (1961)
Crow
The Missouri Traveler (1958)
Tobias Brown
Raintree County (1957)
Orville "Flash" Perkins
Seven Men from Now (1956)
Masters
The Rack (1956)
Capt. John R. Miller
Attack (1956)
Col. Clyde Bartlett
Pillars of the Sky (1956)
Sergeant Lloyd Carracart
I Died a Thousand Times (1955)
Babe
Shack Out on 101 (1955)
Slob, also known as Leo and Mr. Gregory
Pete Kelly's Blues (1955)
Al Gannaway
Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
Hector David
Not As a Stranger (1955)
Brundage
A Life in the Balance (1955)
The murderer
Violent Saturday (1955)
Dill
The Raid (1954)
Lt. Keating
The Caine Mutiny (1954)
Meatball
The Wild One (1954)
Chino
Gorilla at Large (1954)
Shaughnessy
The Big Heat (1953)
Vince Stone
The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953)
Dan Kurth
Seminole (1953)
Sgt. Magruder
The Glory Brigade (1953)
Corp. Bowman
Gun Fury (1953)
Blinky
Down Among the Sheltering Palms (1953)
Snively
Eight Iron Men (1952)
Sgt. Mooney
Diplomatic Courier (1952)
MP at Trieste
The Duel at Silver Creek (1952)
Tinhorn Burgess
Hangman's Knot (1952)
Rolph Bainter
We're Not Married! (1952)
Pinky
You're in the Navy Now (1951)
Crew member

Music (Feature Film)

Breathe (2017)
Song Performer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Samuel Fuller & The Big Red One (1979)
Other

Cast (Special)

Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope's Hilarious Unrehearsed Antics of the Stars (1984)
Bob Hope Special: Bob Hope Laughs With the Movie Awards (1982)

Cast (Short)

The Rock (1967)
Himself
Operation Raintree (1957)

Life Events

1942

Fought in Pacific chapter of WWII; gun shot wound resulted in 13 months of hospitalization before discharge

1947

Stage debut in "Roadside" with Maverick Theater, Woodstock, NY; then to Greenwich Village, New York

1950

Moved to Hollywood under the aegis of Henry Hathaway

1950

Film debut (a bit) in "Teresa", directed by Fred Zinnemann

1951

Film acting debut in Henry Hathaway's "You're In the Navy Now

1952

Signed contract with Columbia

1953

Famous early career moment on screen: as the tough thug who throws scalding hot coffee in Gloria Grahame's face in Fritz Lang's noir classic, "The Big Heat"

1954

Portrayed a dim-witted, sadistic cowboy who menaced Spencer Tracy in "Bad Day at Black Rock"

1962

Delivered strong performance as vicious killer Liberty Valence in John Ford's "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence"

1964

Played methodical, gray-haired businessman-assassin in Don Siegel's "The Killers" (film was originally made-for-TV, but deemed to violent and released theatrically; marked Ronald Reagan's final screen role before his political career)

1965

Won Best Actor Oscar doing double duty as Kid Shelleen, the whisky-soaked but good-hearted gunfighter, and his evil twin Tim Straun, who dressed in black and wore a silver nose because his own had been bitten off in a brawl

1967

Created one of the most influential violent heroes as the destroyer of the "organization" in John Boorman's "Point Blank"

1967

Led a band of "dead-end" soldiers behind enemy lines in the hit "The Dirty Dozen"

1969

Made screen singing debut in Josh Logan's dreadful "Paint Your Wagon"

1972

Appeared in "Prime Cut", once again as a violent hero

1979

Played a squadron leader in Samuel Fuller's comeback picture "The Big Red One"

1979

Was successful defendant in landmark "palimony" suit brought against him by onetime live-in girlfriend, Michelle Triola Marvin

1979

Played a squadron leader in Samuel Fuller's comeback pic "The Big Red One"

1983

Portrayed devious fur dealer in "Gorky Park"

Photo Collections

The Dirty Dozen - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for The Dirty Dozen (1967). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Cat Ballou - Movie Poster
Here is the American One-Sheet Movie Poster for Cat Ballou (1965), starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Point Blank - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few shots taken behind-the-scenes during production of Point Blank (1967), directed by John Boorman and starring Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson.
Raintree County - Behind-the-Scenes Stills
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of MGM's Raintree County (1957), starring Montgomery Clift and Elizabeth Taylor, and directed by Edward Dmytryk.
The Stranger Wore a Gun - Lobby Cards
Here are a few Lobby Cards from The Stranger Wore a Gun (1953), starring Randolph Scott in 3-D. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance - Movie Posters
Here is a variety of original-release American movie posters from John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962), starring John Wayne and James Stewart.
Paint Your Wagon - Movie Poster
Here is the American one-sheet movie poster for Paint Your Wagon (1969). One-sheets measured 27x41 inches, and were the poster style most commonly used in theaters.
Shack Out on 101 - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Shack Out on 101 (1955), starring Terry Moore and Lee Marvin. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.
Cat Ballou- Pressbook
Here is the campaign book (pressbook) for Cat Ballou (1965), starring Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Pressbooks were sent to exhibitors and theater owners to aid them in publicizing the film's run in their theater.

Videos

Movie Clip

Cat Ballou (1965) - No Booze Jackson Two-Bears (Tom Nardini) helps Kid Shelleen (Lee Marvin, in his Academy Award-winning performance) with his shooting, then with his attire, as he prepares for revenge against Marvin's other character, in a famous scene from Cat Ballou, 1965.
Wild One, The (1954) - This Is The Main Event Improbably articulate Chino (Lee Marvin) has led his rival bike gang into town and is itching for a fight with ex-pal Johnny (Marlon Brando), leader of the Black Rebels, in The Wild One, 1954.
Wild One, The (1954) - Open, This Is A Shocking Story The famous opening prologue and credit sequence to THE WILD ONE (1954) starring Marlon Brando as the leader of a lawless motorcycle gang.
Rack, The (1956) - Traitor We don’t know what’s up with just-returned Korean War POW Ed (Paul Newman), except that he’s afraid of his family, and doesn’t want to leave the hospital, as he takes in the entertainment (Debbie Reynolds in MGM’s The Affairs Of Dobie Gillis), and fellow patient Lee Marvin gives us a clue, in MGM’s The Rack, 1956.
Professionals, The (1966) - My Heart Was Lighter After credits and an elaborate assembling of the squad, wealthy Grant (Ralph Bellamy) explains the job to Fardan (Lee Marvin), Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) and Sharp (Woody Strode), in Richard Brooks' The Professionals, 1966.
Professionals, The (1966) - Who Are The Good Guys? Revolutionary and bandit Raza (Jack Palance) finishing off his job, his ex-compadres turned enemies Fardan (Lee Marvin) and Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) observing, explaining to their new guy Ehrengard (Robert Ryan), in The Professionals, 1966.
Ship Of Fools (1965) - Don't Bother Getting Up Widow Mary (Vivien Leigh) meets ex-ballplayer Tenny (Lee Marvin), then anti-Semite Rieber (Jose Ferrer) is joined by Dr. Schumann (Oskar Werner), then misfits Glocken (Michael Dunn) and Lowenthal (Heinz Rumann) on board a German liner off Mexico, 1933, in Ship Of Fools, 1965.
Raintree County (1957) - Better Put On My Pants The 4th of July footrace, with the professor (Nigel Patrick) backing John (Montgomery Clift) who is drunk for the first time, against "Flash" Perkins (Lee Marvin), Nell (Eva Marie Saint) and Susanna (Elizabeth Taylor) spectating, in Raintree County, 1957.
Professionals, The (1966) - Very Bad Hombres In Mexico on their mission to rescue a kidnapped bride, Fardan (Lee Marvin), Dolworth (Burt Lancaster), Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) and Sharp (Woody Strode) encounter their first trouble, in Richard Brooks' The Professionals, 1966.
Professionals, The (1966) - It's Not Dignified Fardan (Lee Marvin), Ehrengard (Robert Ryan) and Sharp (Woody Strode) discover a clue left by Dolworth (Burt Lancaster), who's run into trouble while scouting ahead, followed by a sardonic rescue, in Richard Brooks' The Professionals, 1966.
Professionals, The (1966) - For The Revolution Reluctantly rescued Maria (Claudia Cardinale) caring for wounded Ehrengard (Robert Ryan), tangling with Dolworth (Burt Lancaster) and Fardan (Lee Marvin), who've been hired to bring her back to her American husband, in The Professionals, 1966.
Pete Kelly's Bues (1955) - Real Egg-Beater Producer, director and title character Jack Webb, with his band (Lee Marvin of note) in tow, shows up at the shindig thrown by Kansas City party girl Ivy (Janet Leigh, not a singer but a good sport) as she's coaxed to perform, tune by Jesse Greer and Benny Davis, in Pete Kelly's Blues, 1955.

Trailer

Promo

Family

Lamont W Marvin
Father
Advertising executive. Head of New York and New England Apple Institute.
Courtenay Marvin
Mother
Magazine fashion and beauty editor.

Companions

Betty Edling
Wife
Divorced.
Michelle Triola
Companion
Actor, dancer. Born c. 1933; together 1964-70; legally changed last name, sued Marvin for $3,800,000 in palimony, was awarded $104,000.
Pamela Feeley
Wife
Married 1970 until his death; was a friend from childhood; wrote a memoir that was published in 1997.

Bibliography

"Lee Marvin: His Films and Career"
Robert J Lentz, McFarland (2000)
"Lee: A Romance"
Pamela Marvin, Faber and Faber (1997)