The only reason I’m in Hollywood is that I don’t have the moral courage to refuse the money. — Marlon Brando
HIS oldest son killed a man, his daughter, Cheyenne, committed suicide, and there were plenty of flop movies – but Brando is still a legend. Because of him, method acting, “Stella!!!,” torn T-shirts, “I coulda been a contender,” motorcycle jackets, and “I made him an offer he couldn’t refuse” are engraved on the global psyche.
Inconceivably handsome, his notable 1944 stage debut in I Remember Mama preceded a 1947 performance in Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire that was so riveting in its naturalism and charisma that the acting profession has never been the same. Astounding movie roles rapidly followed in The Men, the movie version of Streetcar, Viva Zapata!, Julius Caesar, The Wild One, and On the Waterfront, for which he won every possible award. Brando was the perfect icon for the beat generation.
Remarkably, his rebellious posturing, feverish womanizing, and disastrous marriage to Anna Kashfi never interfered with his sublime characterizations. A decade of losers followed and then ended, in 1972, with another Academy Award, for The Godfather, and raves for the steamy Last Tango in Paris. Brando’s political activism peaked when he sent a Native American to refuse his Godfather Oscar.
Though nominated in 1989 for a supporting part in A Dry White Season, Brando gave his last significant performance in Apocalypse Now (1979). Over the years, his physical stature grew to match his legend. Inflated grocery bills and the high costs of owning a Tahitian atoll battered his finances, as did legal fees when his son, Christian, murdered his pregnant half-sister Cheyenne’s fiancé. To recoup, Brando published a tell-nothing $5-million autobiography in 1994, and in 1995 he turned in a pleasant performance in Don Juan DeMarco. Less pleasant was his mad scientist turn in the 1996 remake of The Island of Doctor Moreau.
The New York Post reported in September of 1995 that Brando was seeking Irish citizenship because Tahitian gangsters have placed a contract on his life; they supposedly blamed him for the 1990 murder of islander Dag Drollet and the tragic 1994 suicide of Brando’s half-Tahitian daughter, Cheyenne (her death sent him into seclusion and a deep depression). Brando’s statements about his belief that Hollywood is “run by Jews” led to charges of anti-semitism, and his star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame was defaced with a swastika. He later apologized for the remarks.
Occupation: Actor, Director
Date of Birth: April 3, 1924
Died: July 1, 2004
Place of Birth: Omaha, Neb., USA
Sign: Sun in Aries, Moon in Aries
Relations: Ex-wives: Tarita Teripaia, Movita Castenada, Anna Kashfi; long-term relationships: Rita Moreno, Joseanne Marianna Berenger;
Kids: Rebecca, Simon Tehotu, Tarita Cheyenne (deceased), Christian, Miko, Maya (not legally recognized), Ninna
Education: High school, expelled from Shattuck Military Academy