Michelle Triola Marvin

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Michelle Triola Marvin
Born Michelle Triola
(1932-11-13)November 13, 1932
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died October 30, 2009(2009-10-30) (aged 76)
Malibu, California, U.S.
Cause of death Lung cancer
Residence Malibu, California
Nationality American
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
Occupation Actress
Years active 1958–1990s
Known for Suing Lee Marvin in 1977
Home town Los Angeles, California
Partner(s) Lee Marvin (1965–1970)
Dick Van Dyke (1976–2009; her death)

Michelle Triola (November 13, 1932 – October 30, 2009) was an American actress notable for unsuccessfully suing Lee Marvin in 1977, having cohabited with him from 1965 to 1970. The trial, which brought about the concept of palimony, was widely covered in the media at the time. During this time, she was Michelle Triola Marvin, having legally changed her name to add Marvin's surname to her own. She was represented by well-known celebrity attorney Marvin Mitchelson.[1]

Personal life and career[edit]

Triola was born in Los Angeles, California. She never had children.[1] She lived with actor Dick Van Dyke from 1976 until her death. She is the step-grandmother of actor Garret Gerlich.[2][3]

Triola majored in theater arts at UCLA.[1] She was a lounge singer and dancer. She danced in the original 1958 Broadway production of Flower Drum Song, directed by Gene Kelly.[1] Her film acting career consisted of minor roles, including a stand-in in Marvin's 1965 film Ship of Fools and a guest role on the Dick Van Dyke television series Diagnosis: Murder.

Suing Lee Marvin[edit]

Although she and Marvin never married, Triola sought financial compensation similar to that available to spouses under California's alimony and community property laws. The result was the landmark case Marvin v Marvin, 18 Cal. 3d 660 (1976).[1] The Supreme Court of California held that Triola could proceed with her suit, as it did state a cause of action and the trial court erred in granting judgment to Marvin on the pleadings.

The case went to trial. On April 18, 1979, Judge Arthur K. Marshall ordered Marvin to pay $104,000 to Triola for "rehabilitation purposes", but denied her community property claim for one-half of the $3.6 million which Marvin had earned during their six years of cohabitation. Both sides claimed victory, but in August 1981, the California Court of Appeal ruled that Triola could not show any contract between her and Marvin to justify any payment to her. As a result, Triola received no money from Marvin.[4][5]


In April 2008 she underwent surgery for lung cancer. The cancer caused her death on October 30, 2009, at the Malibu, California home she shared with Van Dyke. She was 76 years old.[6] She was survived by a sister, Diane Triola Johnson of Van Nuys, California.[1]


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