Sins of Omission

Lee Marvin, Marine

I first met Lee Marvin in 1964.  I had seen him around town for several years.  He lived on Latimer Road in Rustic Canyon, a part of our then small, quaint hamlet of Pacific Palisades.  He had four children, but his marriage was on the rocks, and he was spending many an evening drinking at The Cottage, a bar on the Coast Highway in Malibu.  My older brother had a beach house nearby and frequented the watering hole as well.  He and Marvin became friends, and I wound up riding motorcycles with Marvin one day up the coast to The Cottage.

Marvin loved to ride motorcycles ever since playing the part of Chino, Marlon Brando’s rival in The Wild One.  Marvin excelled at playing tough guys.  He was convincing in such roles because he was one.  Expelled from St. Leo’s prep school just shy of graduation for his continual flouting of rules and regulations, he joined the Marines at age 18 in August 1942.  For someone who had a problem with authority and discipline it seemed like an odd choice of services.  “I knew I was going to be killed,” explained Marvin.  “I just wanted to die in the very best outfit. . . . There are ordinary corpses.  And Marine corpses.  I figured on the first-class kind and joined up.”

The tall, lean, and muscular Marvin excelled in boot camp at Parris Island, South Carolina, and in further training following...

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