Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Born in New York City, New York, Marvin attended St. Leo Preparatory College in Saint Leo , Florida (now known as Saint Leo University.) He left school to join the Marines and fought during WW II, being badly wounded in June 1944 during the bitter battle of Saipan and sent home with a medical discharge. He then established an amateur off-Broadway acting career in New York City before moving to Hollywood in 1950.
He quickly became a popular figure in supporting roles, initially always playing some kind of 'heavy'. His debut was in You're in the Navy Now (1951), but he also appeared in Don Siegel's Duel at Silver Creek (1952), being unpleasant to Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat (1953), as well as archetypal baddies in Hangman's Knot (1952), Eight Iron Men (1952), The Wild One (1953) opposite Marlon Brando, Seminole (1953), Gun Fury (1953), and Bad Day at Black Rock (1954) among others.
His roles improved (e.g. Attack! (1956), The Missouri Traveller (1958)) but it took over a hundred episodes as Chicago police lieutenant Frank Ballinger in the successful 1957-60 television series M Squad to give him enough clout to star. He had solid roles in The Comancheros (1961), The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962) and Donovan's Reef (1963). Aided by director (Don Siegel) he starred in the groundbreaking The Killers (1964) playing an organised, no-nonsense, efficient, businesslike professional assassin whose character was copied to a great degree by Samuel L. Jackson in the 1994 Quentin Tarantino film Pulp Fiction.
Lee Marvin won the 1965 Academy Award for Best Actor for his comedic performance in the offbeat western Cat Ballou. Following roles in The Professionals (1966) and The Dirty Dozen (1967) he reprised his role as a businesslike assassin in the influential John Boorman film Point Blank (1967). Another Boorman film, the commercial flop Hell in the Pacific came the following year, co-starring famed Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. He had a hit song with "I Was Born Under a Wandering Star" from the western musical Paint Your Wagon (1969).
He generally starred in 'easier' films in the 1970s and 1980s, down-playing the clarity and cruelty of his earlier roles. His 1970s films were Monte Walsh (1970), Prime Cut (1972), Pocket Money (1972), The Emperor of the North Pole (1973), The Spikes Gang (1974), The Klansman (1974), Shout at the Devil (movie) (1976), The Great Scout (1976), Cathouse Thursday (1976), Avalanche Express (1978). His last big role was given to him by Samuel Fuller for The Big Red One (1980). His remaining films were Death Hunt (1981), Gorky Park (1983), Dog Day (1984), (1985), with his final appearance being in The Delta Force (1986).
In 1973, Marvin was sued by long-time girlfriend Michelle Triola, who, though the couple never married, sought financial compensation similar to alimony. Though Marvin ultimately prevailed after an eight-year battle, the case is regarded as a landmark palimony ruling. 
His brother was a major general in US Army Intelligence.
A book regarding the films of Lee Marvin was written by Robert J. Lentz. This book details all the films and also the television roles of Marvin. It does not delve into his personal life.
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