Tall, rangy, white-haired, and at times just plain mean-looking, Lee Marvin (February 19, 1924 – August 29, 1987) was one of the most rugged heroes (and villains) of the big screen and one of Hollywood's biggest stars in the late 1960s.
A decorated veteran of World War II, Marvin started acting in New York and appeared on Broadway in the early 1950s. In the movies he was initially typecast as a brutal thug, most often in westerns and crime dramas such as The Big Heat (1953), The Wild One (1954), Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962). After a three-year stint as the star of television's M Squad (1957–60), Marvin gradually moved from villain to hero on the big screen, and by 1965 had won an Academy Award for his dual role in the broad western comedy Cat Ballou (1965).
As a leading man, Marvin starred in a variety of movies, including Point Blank (1967) and The Dirty Dozen (both 1967), Hell in the Pacific (1968), Paint Your Wagon (1969), Monte Walsh (1970) and Emperor of the North (1973). In 1979 Marvin made headlines when longtime girlfriend Michelle Triola sued him for half his fortune in what was called the "palimony" trial (Triola's claim was ultimately rejected). His later films include The Big Red One (1980), Death Hunt (1981), Gorky Park (1983), and The Delta Force (1986).
Marvin was married to Betty Ebeling (with whom he had four children) from 1951 to 1967, and to his former High School Sweetheart Pamela Feeley from 1970 until his death of a heart attack at age 63.
Lee Marvin on TV Tropes:
- Hangman's Knot (1952)
- The Big Heat (1953)
- Gun Fury (1953)
- The Wild One (1953)
- The Caine Mutiny (1954)
- Bad Day at Black Rock (1955)
- Violent Saturday (1955)
- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962)
- The Twilight Zone, episode "The Grave" (1961)
- Donovan's Reef (1963)
- The Killers (1964)
- Cat Ballou (1965)
- Ship of Fools (1965)
- The Professionals (1966)
- The Dirty Dozen (1967)
- Point Blank (1967)
- Paint Your Wagon (1969)
- Prime Cut (1972)
- Emperor of the North (1973)
- The Iceman Cometh (1973)
- The Klansman (1974)
- Shout at the Devil (1976)
- The Big Red One (1980)
- Death Hunt (1981)
- Gorky Park (1983)
- The Delta Force (1986) — last film
Tropes associated with Lee Marvin:
- Anti-Hero: Most of his characters were this.
- Brooklyn Rage: He was an epic badass who was born and raised in New York City.
- Celebrity Is Overrated: He came to this realization at the height of his career and moved away from the spotlight, turning down a lot of big roles and relocating from Hollywood to Arizona.
- Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: His distinctive looks and fearsome film persona have given him a posthumous career as a common choice as the physical model for particularly intimidating tough guys in drawn or animated works, in particular the Saint of Killers in Preacher, General Carrington in XIII and Il Tredici in Bandette.
- Cool Old Guy: During The '60s and The '70s he frequently played sharp dressed antiheroes with guns and fast cars.
- Guttural Growler: His gravelly voice was the stuff of legend.
- Memetic Badass: In Welcome to Night Vale, he is undying, and possibly the only film actor in existence.
- Mugging the Monster: He once picked a fight with Roger Moore, accusing him of looking wimpy. Moore kicked his ass. Afterwards Marvin was quoted as saying:"The guy is built like granite. Nobody will ever underestimate him again!"
- Old Soldier: Both in real life, and in movies like The Dirty Dozen and The Delta Force. During the War, he was a corporal in the Marines and was awarded the Purple Heart.
- One-Hit Wonder: A really bizarre example, crossing with Breakaway Pop Hit and Germans Love David Hasselhoff. His rendition of "Wand'rin' Star" from Paint Your Wagon was released as a single, and acquired such a strong So Bad, It's Good reputation in the UK and Ireland that it hit #1 in both countries, notoriously keeping "Let it Be" out of the top slot.
- Prematurely Grey-Haired: His hair turned completely grey by the time he turned forty.
- Real Men Wear Pink: He was one of the toughest actors ever to grace the silver screen and one of the first stars to declare his support for the gay rights movement. He was comfortable enough in his sexuality that he said would have no issue playing a gay character, and was even repeatedly kissed full on the mouth by another man in The Big Red One.
- Semper Fi: He was in the Marines during World War II, serving in the Pacific and earning a Purple Heart and a Navy Commendation Medal.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: It was noted that his experiences in the war affected him for the rest of his life.
- Silver Fox: His prematurely white hair didn't do anything to hurt his rugged good looks.
- Team Dad: During The '70s and The '80s, Marvin often served as leader or mentor figure to a younger group of heroes, as in Prime Cut. He mentored Burt Lancaster in The Professionals, Keith Carradine in Emperor of the North, and even Mark Hamill in The Big Red One.
- Younger Than They Look: Due to his prematurely white hair, he often looked considerably older than he was.