Lee Marvin was born on February 19, 1924 in New York City, New York. Je was named in honor of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, who was his first cousin, four times removed. Marvin is best remembered for his tough-guy roles in such movies as "The Dirty Dozen" (1967), "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" (1962), "Cat Ballou" (1965), "Sergeant Riker" (1968) and dozens of western and military movies, sometimes as the hero and often as a villain. Incorrigible as a youth, he was thrown out of numerous schools, until he enlisted in the Marine Corps at the beginning of World War II. He was wounded in June 1944 during the Battle of Saipan, and spent the remainder of the war convalescing in New York. Released from the military at the end of the war, he obtained work as a plumber's apprentice, and while repairing a toilet in a theater, was asked to stand-in for a sick actor during a rehearsal. Bitten by a love of acting, he returned to New York City, where he studied acting and began to play small roles in off-Broadway productions. After a long run of small television roles, he moved to Hollywood, where he began playing villains and cops, mostly as an extra. Given a leading role in "Eight Iron Men" (1952), he became noticed as an actor, and better roles came his way. He had a very successful run as a police detective in the television series "M Squad" (1957-1960). His only Oscar came from his dual role as a drunken gunfighter and his evil, noseless twin brother in the western comedy, "Cat Ballou" (1965). In 1969, he played a drunken gold-miner, Ben Rumson, in the comedy western film, "Paint Your Wagon," one of the few films in which he sings, and when the song "Wandering Star" from that film was played separately over the radio, it earned him a gold record (over 1 million copies sold), which surprised him as much as the public. Lee appeared in only one Euro-western “The Spikes Gang” (1974) as Harry Spikes. He is also remembered for a legal court fight when his long-term relationship with actress Michelle Triola broke up and she sued for "palimony" rights to his property. She won the right to sue him, but eventually lost the case; the case set legal precedence for unmarried cohabiters to sue for alimony and other property rights with equal force of law as married partners. He died in Tucson, Arizona, of a heart attack on July 29, 1987.
For a great read on Marvin try Dwayne Epstein’s biography on Lee called Point Blank by Schaffner Press, Inc.