In a career that included 31 films, Lee Marvin ofter played a tough-as-nails military man. He had the background for it, having been a Marine in real-life in WW2. Lee Marvin Hollywood actor Lee Marvin served as a Private First Class in the Marines in World War II. In the battle of Saipan in 1944, he was one of only nine survivors of his unit. He was seriously wounded during the battle and earned a trip home, where he spent months recovering. He was awarded the Purple Heart. The Purple Heart. Lee Marvin died August 29, 1987 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 7-A, not far from the Tomb of the Unknowns. Lee Marvin's Gravestone.