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Lee Marvin's Best

Published: 8/29/2012
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Lee Marvin in 1971 (Wikimedia Commons / NBC Television)

Lee Marvin was, depending on the movie, a cowboy, a criminal, a soldier, a cop, and more… but above all else, he was a star.

Marvin died Aug. 29, 1987, 25 years ago today. We're watching the way his career grew from his earliest bad-guy roles to the strong and varied career he enjoyed at his peak in the 1960s and '70s. Here are a few of our favorites…

Marvin started out on the big screen with a series of small soldier roles in war flicks, but it was a TV show that would be his real big break. As steely cop Frank Ballinger, Marvin made M Squad a hit… and M Squad made Marvin famous.

After M Squad's success, Marvin's roles grew bigger and more interesting – like his turn as the title character in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. Marvin didn't star, but his role was prominent… and he had the box-office cachet of acting alongside John Wayne and James Stewart.

The best actor Oscar Marvin won for 1965's Cat Ballou cinched it – he was now a household name.

In 1967, Marvin was back to playing a soldier – but what a difference a few years made. The Dirty Dozen featured Marvin as its head honcho, the top-billed commander of a group of military misfits.

Paint Your Wagon made Lee Marvin an unlikely one-hit wonder with the song "Wand'rin' Star." Though Marvin never claimed to be much of a singer, the track rose to No. 1 in the U.K. and Ireland.

Written by Linnea Crowther

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