Lamont Waltman "Lee" Marvin Jr.
17th paternal cousin, 3x removed
Yet another Hollywood legend has been added to my family tree. A face and name that is familiar to anyone who has watched Westerns, war movies or TV shows from the 1950's through the 1980's, Lee Marvin usually played the venerable "tough guy" character.
Born on February 19, 1924 in New York City to Lamont Waltman Marvin and Courtenay Washington Davidge. Lee and I are related through his mother's family, and we descend through the same ancestral lineage as I do to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, also on Her Majesty's maternal side.
Lee and I are also related to Confederate General Robert E. Lee, with Lee being General Lee's 1st cousin, 4x removed and my 10th cousin, 8x removed.
Lee Marvin left school at age 18 on August 12th, 1942 and enlisted in the US Marine Corps. Lee was wounded in action during the Battle of Saigon when he was hit by enemy machine gun fire. Lee was discharged due to his injuries.
After World War II, Lee worked as a plumber's assistant at a local community theatre in upstate New York. One day when an actor became ill, Lee was asked to stand in during a rehearsal and the acting bug bit him; he soon landed an acting job and earned $7.00 a week as an actor.
Lee left upstate New York and returned to New York City, moving to Greenwich Village and began to study acting. Lee acted in 2 plays in 1949 at the Experimental Theatre before landing acting jobs on television.
In 1951, Lee played a small roll on Broadway, acting in the play Uniform of Flesh.
Later in 1951, Lee got his first role in the Hollywood movie, You're In The Navy Now. This film also debuted Charles Bronson and Jack Warden, two names that would become as well-known as Lee Marvin's in the coming years.
Lee's career would go on to see him act with other Hollywood stalwarts such as Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, James Stewart, John Wayne (yet another distant cousin of yours truly), Ronald Reagan, Burt Lancaster, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Clint Eastwood (another distant cousin of mine), Angie Dickenson and Jane Fonda.
Lee won an Oscar for Best Actor for his role in Cat Ballou, playing alongside now film legend Jane Fonda.
Lee was married twice; first to Betty Ebeling in February, 1951, and secondly to his high school sweetheart, Pamela Feeley. Lee's first marriage lasted until 1967 and resulted in 4 children - Christopher (1952-2013), Courtenay (born in 1954), Cynthia Louise (born in 1956) and Claudia Leslie (1958-2012). Lee was married to Pamela in October, 1970 until his death in 1987.
In 1971, Lee was unfortunate to be involved in a landmark palimony case brought on by his girlfriend (1965-1970), Michelle Triola. This case set the precedent that allowed live-in couples who were not legally married to gain some of the rights of married couples and seek compensation when the relationship ends.
Lee Marvin died of a heart attack on August 29th, 1987 at the age of 63. Lee had been in poor health since December, 1986. Lee was buried at Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.