Lee Marvin, 63, who starred in more than two dozen movie melodramas as a tight-lipped, sardonic man of action, and won an Academy Award for a comic role in "Cat Ballou" that parodied the very type of character in which he had specialized, died yesterday in Tucson.

A spokesman for the Tucson Medical Center said that Marvin died about noon after a heart attack.

The actor, who owned a ranch near Tucson, had been in the hospital for about two weeks for treatment of a condition connected to the flu.

In addition to his acting, Marvin achieved celebrity in domestic relations law in 1979 after a woman he had lived with but never married sued him in a ground-breaking "palimony" case.

A trial court turned down her claim to a share of his wealth but ordered him to pay for her rehabilitation. That order was later rejected on appeal.

A wounded Marine Corps veteran of World War II, Marvin showed the physical requirements and the acting skill to persuade his audiences that vast depths of barely contained rage simmered just beneath the square-jawed, cold-eyed face they saw on the screen. He was terse but terrifying.

Marvin played a variety of cops and killers and cowboys and soldiers in a screen career that began in 1951, and included roles in "The Wild One," "The Dirty Dozen," "The Big Heat," "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance" and "The Killers."

One of the pictures that took him beyond his reputation as a man of violent action was "Ship of Fools," a 1965 production based on the Katherine Anne Porter novel, in which he won great critical acclaim portraying an alcoholic has-been and ex-athlete, who he described as: "a childlike adult, a little afraid, trying to work out values in his own way. A little like me."

"Cat Ballou," which won Marvin his Oscar, also appeared in 1965. Marvin played both Kid Shelleen, the whisky-besotted but well-intentioned gunfighter, and Shelleen's black-garbed adversary, the villain Tim Straun. In a memorable scene, the drunken kid sprawled atop a steed that seemed drunk too.

Although the performance made light of the menace that was Marvin's metier, his remarks on receiving his Oscar as best actor remained true to his unsentimental, laconic on-screen image.

"Half of this {the Oscar} belongs to a horse someplace out in the valley," he said.

Marvin had four children with his first wife, from whom he was divorced. His wife Pamela was at his bedside when he died.