Thursday, May 13, 2010

Lee Marvin

Lee Marvin, is one of my all time favorite actors and also a fellow Tucsonian. He began his acting career 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 became ill during rehearsals. He then began an amateur off-Broadway acting career in New York City and served as an understudy in Broadway productions. Soon after, Marvin moved to Hollywood. He found work in supporting roles. As a decorated combat veteran, Marvin was perfect in war dramas, where he assisted the director and other actors in portraying infantry movement, arranging costumes, and even adjusting war surplus military prop firearms.

His first film was in You're in the Navy Now (1951) and in 1952 he performed in, Duel at Silver Creek, Hangman's Knot, and the war drama Eight Iron Men. He performed opposite, Gloria Grahame, in The Big Heat (1953). Marvin, also performed in a memorable role in The Wild One (1953) opposite Marlon Brando, followed by Seminole (1953) and Gun Fury (1953). He also had a small but memorable role as sailor Meatball in The Caine Mutiny. He was again praised for his role as Hector the small town hood in Bad Day at Black Rock (1955) with Spencer Tracy.

During the 1950s, Marvin began playing more substantial roles. He starred in Attack (1956), and The Missouri Traveler (1958) but it took over one hundred episodes as Chicago cop Frank Ballinger in the successful 1957-1960 television series M Squad to actually give him name recognition.

In the 1960s, Marvin was given co-starring roles in films as The Comancheros (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Donovan's Reef (1963), all with John Wayne. Marvin also guest-starred in Combat! and The Twilight Zone. Marvin performed in the groundbreaking film, The Killers (1964) playing an professional assassin. The Killers was also the first movie in which Marvin received top billing. Marvin won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in the western Cat Ballou starring Jane Fonda.

Following roles in The Professionals (1966) and the The Dirty Dozen (1967), Marvin was given complete control over his next film. In Point Blank, he played a criminal out for revenge. In 1968, Marvin performed in Hell in the Pacific. He had a hit song with "Wand'rin' Star" from the western musical Paint Your Wagon (1969).

Marvin had a much greater variety of roles in the 1970s and 1980s, with fewer 'bad-guy' roles than in earlier years. His 1970s films included Monte Walsh (1970), Prime Cut (1972), Pocket Money (1972), Emperor of the North Pole (1973), The Iceman Cometh (1973) as Hickey, The Spikes Gang (1974), The Klansman (1974), Shout at the Devil (1976), The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday (1976), and Avalanche Express (1978). Marvin was offered the role of Quint in Jaws (1975) but declined.

Marvin's last big role was in, The Big Red One (1980). His remaining films were Death Hunt (1981), Gorky Park (1983), Dog Day (1984), and The Dirty Dozen: The Next Mission (1985); his final appearance was in The Delta Force (1986).

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