Private First Class, United States Marine Corps
Marvin was born on February 19, 1924, he served with the Marine Corps during
World War II in the Pacific and was awarded a Purple Heart for a wound
that he received there.
On his return, he became a movie actor and starred in a number of motion pictures until his death in Arizona on August 29, 1987.
The message says that Lee Marvin appeared on the Tonight Show in the 70's when host Johnny Carson brought up Marvin's record in the Marines. Carson said people may not have known that Marvin fought in Iwo Jima, one of the best known battles of World War II, and was awarded the Navy Cross. Marvin then tells a story of heroism in battle about the bravest man he ever knew who was also awarded the Navy Cross ... Bob Keeshan who later became best known as Captain Kangaroo.
We can't say for sure whether actor Lee Marvin ever related something like the story described to Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show (Marvin was a guest on the show seven times during Carson's tenure as host), but the details of the anecdote are undeniably false.
Lee Marvin did enlist in the U.S. Marines, saw action as Private First Class in the Pacific during World War II, and was wounded (in the buttocks) by fire which severed his sciatic nerve. However, this injury occurred during the battle for Saipan in June 1944, not the battle for Iwo Jima, which took place several months later, in February 1945. (Marvin also did receive a Purple Heart, and he is indeed buried at Arlington National Cemetery.)
Bob Keeshan, later famous as television's "Captain Kangaroo," also enlisted in the U.S. Marines, but too late to see any action during World War II. Keeshan was born on 27 June 1927 and enlisted two weeks before his 18th birthday, months too late to have taken part in the fighting at Iwo Jima. A 1997 interview with Keeshan noted that he "later enlisted in the U.S. Marines but saw no combat" because, as Keeshan said, he signed up "just before we dropped the atom bomb."
Finally, neither of these men served together and certainly neither of them earned the Navy Cross for bravery while serving in the Marine Corps.
Photo (c) Michael Robert Patterson, September 1999
Page Updated: 18 December 1999 Updated: 16 December 2000 Updated: 12 May 2001 Updated: 28 December 2002 Updated: 14 May 2003
Updated: 10 August 2003 Updted: 27 November 2005 Updated: 7 April 2006
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 28 June 2003