While the term “secret society” is all but guaranteed to provoke imagery of powerful and dangerous groups engaged in all manner of clandestine operations, such is not always the case. Sometimes, a secret society is just a bit of fun and nothing else at all – albeit in a very odd way. Take, for example, the Sons of Lee Marvin. That’s right: we’re talking about Lee Marvin, the late actor. You may never have heard of this particular group until now. If that’s the case, it’s time to get acquainted. Dangerous Minds says: “Back in the 1980s Tom Waits, Jim Jarmusch, John Lurie, and maybe one or two others started a facetious little organization called the Sons of Lee Marvin in honor of one of their favorite actors. As it is a secret society, details are scarce – Nick Cave is in the club, and the director John Boorman has been given an honorary membership. It is rumored that Thurston Moore, Iggy Pop, Josh Brolin, and Neil Young are also in the group. If you would like to join the Sons of Lee Marvin, here’s all you have to do: 1. Be born with a penis. 2. Have ‘a facial structure such that you could be related to, or be a son of, Lee Marvin.’ 3. Develop an intense fondness for Lee Marvin, especially how his characters are ‘outsiders and very violent’ and ‘have a very strong code.’ 4. Achieve significant notoriety as an adorable bohemian/downtown musician or filmmaker. 5. Become close buddies with Jim Jarmusch.”
Jarmusch, who was the prime-mover in getting this very alternative secret society into existence, says, in decidedly tongue-in-cheek fashion: “I’m not at liberty to divulge information about the organization, other than to tell you that it does exist. I can identify three other members of the organization: Tom Waits, John Lurie, and Richard Bose. You have to have a facial structure such that you could be related to, or be a son of, Lee Marvin. There are no women, obviously, in the organization. We have communiques and secret meetings. Other than that, I can’t talk about it.” Tom Waits, with good humor, says of the Sons of Lee Marvin: “It’s a mystical organization and they have a New York chapter, and we met at one of the annual meetings. It’s somewhere between the Elks Club and the Academy Awards.” So, now you know!
If you happen to be too young to know who Lee Marvin was, and you are wondering what all of the fuss is about, well, here’s a bit of background on Marvin from Ourbiography.com: “Actor Lee Marvin was born on February 19, 1924, in New York City. He eventually earned lead roles when his aggressive nature was perceived by such directors as Edward Dmytryk, Fritz Lang, and John Boorman. Marvin appeared in about 70 films between 1951 and 1986. He first branched out into sympathetic film roles in the early 1960s, partly thanks to his role in TV’s M Squad. He died on August 29, 1987, in Tucson, Arizona. Like most actors, Marvin played some uncredited bit parts and character roles in his first films. He eventually earned lead roles when his aggressive nature was perceived by such directors as Edward Dmytryk, Fritz Lang, and John Boorman. Marvin appeared in about 70 films between 1951 and 1986. He likely stands out among the roughneck actors due to an innate predilection toward violence, which makes any malevolent Marvin character ring true.”
As all of this demonstrates, sometimes the world of real secret groups, paranoia and conspiracy-theorizing gives way to something that is just fun, lighthearted entertainment, and nothing else at all. And, in today’s world, we can all do with something to cheer us up.