Marlon Brando facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
Brando in One-Eyed Jacks (1961)
Marlon Brando Jr.
April 3, 1924
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
|Died||July 1, 2004
|Children||11 (8 biological, 3 adopted); including Christian and Cheyenne|
|Relatives||Jocelyn Brando (sister)
D. A. Pennebaker (cousin)
Marlon Brando Jr. (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004) was an American actor. Considered one of the most influential actors of the 20th century, he received numerous accolades throughout his career, which spanned six decades, including two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, one Cannes Film Festival Award and three British Academy Film Awards. Brando was also an activist for many causes, notably the civil rights movement and various Native American movements. Having studied with Stella Adler in the 1940s, he is credited with being one of the first actors to bring the Stanislavski system of acting, and method acting, to mainstream audiences.
- Early life and education
- Final years and death
- Personal life
- Awards and honors
- See also
Early life and education
Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, on April 3, 1924, to Marlon Brando Sr. (1895–1965), a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer, and Dorothy Julia Pennebaker (1897–1954). Brando had two elder sisters, named Jocelyn (1919–2005) and Frances (1922–1994). His ancestry was mostly German, Dutch, English, and Irish. His patrilineal immigrant ancestor, Johann Wilhelm Brandau, arrived in New York City in the early 1700s from the Palatinate in Germany. He is also a descendant of Louis DuBois, a French Huguenot, who arrived in New York around 1660. His maternal great-grandfather, Myles Joseph Gahan, was an Irish immigrant who served as a medic in the American Civil War. In 1995, he gave an interview in Ireland in which he said, "I have never been so happy in my life. When I got off the plane I had this rush of emotion. I have never felt at home in a place as I do here. I am seriously contemplating Irish citizenship." Brando was raised a Christian Scientist.
His mother, known as Dodie, was unconventional for her time; she wore pants, and drove cars. An actress herself and a theater administrator, she helped Henry Fonda begin his acting career.
Around 1930, Brando's parents moved to Evanston, Illinois, when his father's work took him to Chicago, but separated in 1935 when Brando was 11 years old. His mother took the three children to Santa Ana, California, where they lived with her mother. Brando's parents reconciled by 1937, and by the next year left Evanston and moved together to a farm in Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago. Between 1939 and 1941, he worked as an usher at the town's only movie theater, The Liberty.
Brando, whose childhood nickname was "Bud", was a mimic from his youth. He developed an ability to absorb the mannerisms of children he played with and display them dramatically while staying in character. He was introduced to neighborhood boy Wally Cox and the two were closest friends until Cox's death in 1973. In the 2007 TCM biopic Brando: The Documentary, childhood friend George Englund recalls Brando's earliest acting as imitating the cows and horses on the family farm as a way to distract his mother from drinking. His sister Jocelyn was the first to pursue an acting career, going to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She appeared on Broadway, then films and television. Brando's sister Frances left college in California to study art in New York. Brando had been held back a year in school and was later expelled from Libertyville High School for riding his motorcycle through the corridors.
He was sent to Shattuck Military Academy in Minnesota, where his father had studied before him. Brando excelled at theater and did well in the school. In his final year (1943), he was put on probation for being insubordinate to a visiting army colonel during maneuvers. He was confined to his room, but sneaked into town and was caught. The faculty voted to expel him, though he was supported by the students, who thought expulsion was too harsh. He was invited back for the following year, but decided instead to drop out of high school. Brando worked as a ditch-digger as a summer job arranged by his father. He tried to enlist in the Army, but his induction physical revealed that a football injury he had sustained at Shattuck had left him with a trick knee. He was classified IV-F (physically unfit for military service) and not inducted.
New York and acting
Brando decided to follow his sisters to New York, studying at the American Theatre Wing Professional School, part of the Dramatic Workshop of the New School, with influential German director Erwin Piscator. In a 1988 documentary, Marlon Brando: The Wild One, Brando's sister Jocelyn remembered, "He was in a school play and enjoyed it ... So he decided he would go to New York and study acting because that was the only thing he had enjoyed. That was when he was 18." In the A&E Biography episode on Brando, George Englund said Brando fell into acting in New York because "he was accepted there. He wasn't criticized. It was the first time in his life that he heard good things about himself." He spent his first few months in New York sleeping on friends' couches. For a time he lived with Roy Somlyo, who later became a four time Emmy winning Broadway producer.
Brando was an avid student and proponent of Stella Adler, from whom he learned the techniques of the Stanislavski system. This technique encouraged the actor to explore both internal and external aspects to fully realize the character being portrayed. Brando's remarkable insight and sense of realism were evident early on. Adler used to recount that when teaching Brando, she had instructed the class to act like chickens, and added that a nuclear bomb was about to fall on them. Most of the class clucked and ran around wildly, but Brando sat calmly and pretended to lay an egg. Asked by Adler why he had chosen to react this way, he said, "I'm a chicken—what do I know about bombs?" Despite being commonly regarded as a method actor, Brando disagreed.
Brando was the first to bring a natural approach to acting on film. According to Dustin Hoffman in his online Masterclass, Brando would often talk to camera men and fellow actors about their weekend even after the director would call action. Once Brando felt he could deliver the dialogue as natural as that conversation he would start the dialogue. In his 2015 documentary, Listen To Me Marlon, he said before that actors were like breakfast cereals, meaning they were predictable. Critics would later say this was Brando being difficult, but actors who worked opposite would say it was just all part of his technique.
Early career: 1944–1951
Brando used his Stanislavski System skills for his first summer stock roles in Sayville, New York, on Long Island. Brando established a pattern of erratic, insubordinate behavior in the few shows he had been in. His behavior had him kicked out of the cast of the New School's production in Sayville, but he was soon afterwards discovered in a locally produced play there. Then, in 1944, he made it to Broadway in the bittersweet drama I Remember Mama, playing the son of Mady Christians. The Lunts wanted Brando to play the role of Alfred Lunt's son in O Mistress Mine, and Lunt even coached him for the audition, but Brando made no attempt to even read his lines at the audition and was not hired. New York Drama Critics voted him "Most Promising Young Actor" for his role as an anguished veteran in Truckline Café, although the play was a commercial failure. In 1946, he appeared on Broadway as the young hero in the political drama A Flag is Born, refusing to accept wages above the Actors' Equity rate. In that same year, Brando played the role of Marchbanks alongside Katharine Cornell in her production's revival of Candida, one of her signature roles. Cornell also cast him as the Messenger in her production of Jean Anouilh's Antigone that same year. He was also offered the opportunity to portray one of the principal characters in the Broadway premiere of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, but turned the part down after falling asleep while trying to read the massive script and pronouncing the play "ineptly written and poorly constructed".
In 1945, Brando's agent recommended he take a co-starring role in The Eagle Has Two Heads with Tallulah Bankhead, produced by Jack Wilson. Bankhead had turned down the role of Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire, which Williams had written for her, to tour the play for the 1946–1947 season. Bankhead recognized Brando's potential, despite her disdain (which most Broadway veterans shared) for method acting, and agreed to hire him even though he auditioned poorly. The two clashed greatly during the pre-Broadway tour, with Bankhead reminding Brando of his mother, being her age and also having a drinking problem. Wilson was largely tolerant of Brando's behavior, but he reached his limit when Brando mumbled through a dress rehearsal shortly before the November 28, 1946, opening. "I don't care what your grandmother did," Wilson exclaimed, "and that Method stuff, I want to know what you're going to do!" Brando in turn raised his voice, and acted with great power and passion. "It was marvelous," a cast member recalled. "Everybody hugged him and kissed him. He came ambling offstage and said to me, 'They don't think you can act unless you can yell.'"
Critics were not as kind, however. A review of Brando's performance in the opening assessed that Brando was "still building his character, but at present fails to impress." One Boston critic remarked of Brando's prolonged death scene, "Brando looked like a car in midtown Manhattan searching for a parking space." He received better reviews at subsequent tour stops, but what his colleagues recalled was only occasional indications of the talent he would later demonstrate. "There were a few times when he was really magnificent," Bankhead admitted to an interviewer in 1962. "He was a great young actor when he wanted to be, but most of the time I couldn't even hear him on the stage."
Pierpont writes that John Garfield was first choice for the role, but "made impossible demands." It was Kazan's decision to fall back on the far less experienced (and technically too young for the role) Brando.
In 1947, Brando performed a screen test for an early Warner Brothers script for the novel Rebel Without a Cause (1944), which bore no relation to the film eventually produced in 1955. The screen test is included as an extra in the 2006 DVD release of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Brando's first screen role was a bitter paraplegic veteran in The Men (1950). He spent a month in bed at the Birmingham Army Hospital in Van Nuys to prepare for the role. The New York Times reviewer Bosley Crowther wrote that Brando as Ken "is so vividly real, dynamic and sensitive that his illusion is complete" and noted, "Out of stiff and frozen silences he can lash into a passionate rage with the tearful and flailing frenzy of a taut cable suddenly cut."
By Brando's own account, it may have been because of this film that his draft status was changed from 4-F to 1-A. He had had surgery on his trick knee, and it was no longer physically debilitating enough to incur exclusion from the draft. When Brando reported to the induction center, he answered a questionnaire by saying his race was "human", his color was "Seasonal-oyster white to beige", and he told an Army doctor that he was psychoneurotic. When the draft board referred him to a psychiatrist, Brando explained that he had been expelled from military school and had severe problems with authority. Coincidentally, the psychiatrist knew a doctor friend of Brando. Brando avoided military service during the Korean War.
Early in his career, Brando began using cue cards instead of memorizing his lines. Despite the objections of several of the film directors he worked with, Brando felt that this helped bring realism and spontaneity to his performances. He felt otherwise he would appear to be reciting a writer's speech.
Some, however, thought Brando used the cards out of laziness or an inability to memorize his lines. Once on The Godfather set, Brando was asked why he wanted his lines printed out. He responded, "Because I can read them that way."
Rise to fame: 1951–1954
Brando brought his performance as Stanley Kowalski to the screen in Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The role is regarded as one of Brando's greatest. It earned him his first Academy Award nomination in the Best Actor category.
He was also nominated the next year for Viva Zapata! (1952), a fictionalized account of the life of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. The film recounted Zapata's lower-class upbringing, his rise to power in the early 20th century, and death. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and co-starred Anthony Quinn. In the biopic Marlon Brando: The Wild One, Sam Shaw says, "Secretly, before the picture started, he went to Mexico to the very town where Zapata lived and was born in and it was there that he studied the speech patterns of people, their behavior, movement." Most critics focused on the actor rather than the film, with Time and Newsweek publishing rave reviews.
Brando's next film, Julius Caesar (1953), received highly favorable reviews. Brando portrayed Mark Antony. While most acknowledged Brando's talent, some critics felt Brando's "mumbling" and other idiosyncrasies betrayed a lack of acting fundamentals and, when his casting was announced, many remained dubious about his prospects for success. Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz and co-starring British stage actor John Gielgud, Brando delivered an impressive performance, especially during Antony's noted "Friends, Romans, countrymen ..." speech. Gielgud was so impressed that he offered Brando a full season at the Hammersmith Theatre, an offer he declined. In his biography on the actor, Stefan Kanfer writes, "Marlon's autobiography devotes one line to his work on that film: Among all those British professionals, 'for me to walk onto a movie set and play Mark Anthony was asinine'—yet another example of his persistent self-denigration, and wholly incorrect." Kanfer adds that after a screening of the film, director John Huston commented, "Christ! It was like a furnace door opening—the heat came off the screen. I don't know another actor who could do that." During the filming of Julius Caesar, Brando learned that Elia Kazan had cooperated with congressional investigators, naming a whole string of "subversives" to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). By all accounts, Brando was upset by his mentor's decision, but he worked with him again in On The Waterfront. "None of us is perfect," he later wrote in his memoir, "and I think that Gadg has done injury to others, but mostly to himself."
In 1953, Brando also starred in The Wild One, riding his own Triumph Thunderbird 6T motorcycle. Triumph's importers were ambivalent at the exposure, as the subject matter was rowdy motorcycle gangs taking over a small town. The film was criticized for its perceived gratuitous violence at the time, with Time stating, "The effect of the movie is not to throw light on the public problem, but to shoot adrenaline through the moviegoer's veins." Brando allegedly did not see eye to eye with the Hungarian director László Benedek and did not get on with costar Lee Marvin.
To Brando's expressed puzzlement, the movie inspired teen rebellion and made him a role model to the nascent rock-and-roll generation and future stars such as James Dean and Elvis Presley. After the movie's release, the sales of leather jackets and motorcycles skyrocketed.
On the Waterfront
In 1954, Brando starred in On the Waterfront, a crime drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg; it also starred Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger and, in her film debut, Eva Marie Saint. When initially offered the role, Brando—still stung by Kazan's testimony to HUAC—demurred and the part of Terry Malloy nearly went to Frank Sinatra. According to biographer Stefan Kanfer, the director believed that Sinatra, who grew up in Hoboken (where the film takes place and was shot), would work as Malloy, but eventually producer Sam Spiegel wooed Brando to the part, signing him for $100,000. "Kazan made no protest because, he subsequently confessed, 'I always preferred Brando to anybody.'"
Brando won the Oscar for his role as Irish-American stevedore Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront. His performance, spurred on by his rapport with Eva Marie Saint and Kazan's direction, was praised as a tour de force. For the scene in which Terry laments his failings, saying I coulda been a contender, he convinced Kazan that the scripted scene was unrealistic. Schulberg's script had Brando acting the entire scene with his character being held at gunpoint by his brother Charlie, played by Rod Steiger. Brando insisted on gently pushing away the gun, saying that Terry would never believe that his brother would pull the trigger and doubting that he could continue his speech while fearing a gun on him.
Upon its release, On the Waterfront received glowing reviews from critics and was a commercial success, earning an estimated $4.2 million in rentals at the North American box office in 1954. In his July 29, 1954, review, The New York Times critic A. H. Weiler praised the film, calling it "an uncommonly powerful, exciting, and imaginative use of the screen by gifted professionals." Film critic Roger Ebert lauded the film, stating that Brando and Kazan changed acting in American films forever and added it to his "Great Movies" list. In his autobiography, Brando was typically dismissive of his performance: "On the day Gadg showed me the complete picture, I was so depressed by my performance I got up and left the screening room ... I thought I was a huge failure." After Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor, the statue was stolen. Much later, it turned up at a London auction house, which contacted the actor and informed him of its whereabouts.
Box office successes and directorial debut: 1954–1959
Following On the Waterfront, Brando remained a top box office draw, but critics increasingly felt his performances were half-hearted, lacking the intensity and commitment found in his earlier work, especially in his work with Kazan. He portrayed Napoleon in the 1954 film Désirée. According to co-star Jean Simmons, Brando's contract forced him to star in the movie. He put little effort into the role, claiming he didn't like the script, and later dismissed the entire movie as "superficial and dismal". Brando was especially contemptuous of director Henry Koster.
Brando and Simmons were paired together again in the film adaptation of the musical Guys and Dolls (1955). Guys and Dolls would be Brando's first and last musical role. The film was commercially though not critically successful, costing $5.5 million to make and grossing $13 million.
Brando played Sakini, a Japanese interpreter for the U.S. Army in postwar Japan, in The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956).
In Sayonara (1957) he appeared as a United States Air Force officer. The film went on to win four Academy Awards. Teahouse and Sayonara were the first in a string of films Brando would strive to make over the next decade which contained socially relevant messages, and he formed a partnership with Paramount to establish his own production company called Pennebaker, its declared purpose to develop films that contained "social value that would improve the world." The name was a tribute in honor of his mother, who had died in 1954.
In 1958, Brando appeared in The Young Lions, dyeing his hair blonde and assuming a German accent for the role, which he later admitted was not convincing. The film is based on the novel by Irwin Shaw, and Brando's portrayal of the character Christian Diestl was controversial for its time. The film was based on another play by Tennessee Williams but was hardly the success A Streetcar Named Desire had been.
One-Eyed Jacks and Mutiny on the Bounty
In 1961, Brando made his directorial debut in the western One-Eyed Jacks. The picture was originally directed by Stanley Kubrick, but he was fired early in the production. Paramount then made Brando the director. Brando portrays the lead character Rio, and Karl Malden plays his partner "Dad" Longworth. The supporting cast features Katy Jurado, Ben Johnson, and Slim Pickens. Brando's penchant for multiple retakes and character exploration as an actor carried over into his directing, however, and the film soon went over budget; Paramount expected the film to take three months to complete but shooting stretched to six and the cost doubled to more than six million dollars. Brando's inexperience as an editor also delayed postproduction and Paramount eventually took control of the film. Brando later wrote, "Paramount said it didn't like my version of the story; I'd had everyone lie except Karl Malden. The studio cut the movie to pieces and made him a liar, too. By then, I was bored with the whole project and walked away from it". One-Eyed Jacks was received with mixed reviews by critics.
Brando's revulsion with the film industry reportedly boiled over on the set of his next film, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, which was filmed in Tahiti. The actor was accused of deliberately sabotaging nearly every aspect of the production. On June 16, 1962, The Saturday Evening Post ran an article by Bill Davidson with the headline "Six million dollars down the drain: the mutiny of Marlon Brando". Mutiny director Lewis Milestone claimed that the executives "deserve what they get when they give a ham actor, a petulant child, complete control over an expensive picture." Mutiny on the Bounty nearly capsized MGM and, while the project had indeed been hampered with delays other than Brando's behavior, the accusations would dog the actor for years as studios began to fear Brando's difficult reputation. Critics also began taking note of his fluctuating weight.
Box office decline: 1963–1971
Distracted by his personal life and becoming disillusioned with his career, Brando began to view acting as a means to a financial end. Critics protested when he started accepting roles in films many perceived as being beneath his talent, or criticized him for failing to live up to the better roles. Previously only signing short-term deals with film studios, in 1961 Brando uncharacteristically signed a five-picture deal with Universal Studios that would haunt him for the rest of the decade. The Ugly American (1963) was the first of these films. Based on the 1958 novel of the same title that Pennebaker had optioned, the film, which featured Brando's sister Jocelyn, was rated fairly positively but died at the box office. Brando was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. All of Brando's other Universal films during this period, including Bedtime Story (1964), The Appaloosa (1966), A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) and The Night of the Following Day (1969), were also critical and commercial flops. Countess in particular was a disappointment for Brando, who had looked forward to working with one of his heroes, director Charlie Chaplin. The experience turned out to be an unhappy one; Brando was horrified at Chaplin's didactic style of direction and his authoritarian approach. Brando had also appeared in the spy thriller Morituri in 1965; that, too, failed to attract an audience.
The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris
During the 1970s, Brando was considered "unbankable". Critics were becoming increasingly dismissive of his work and he had not appeared in a box office hit since The Young Lions in 1958, the last year he had ranked as one of the Top Ten Box Office Stars and the year of his last Academy Award nomination, for Sayonara. Brando's performance as Vito Corleone, the "Don," in The Godfather (1972), Francis Ford Coppola's adaptation of Mario Puzo's 1969 bestselling novel of the same name, was a career turning point, putting him back in the Top Ten and winning him his second Best Actor Oscar.
Brando was signed for a low fee of $50,000, but in his contract, he was given a percentage of the gross on a sliding scale: 1% of the gross for each $10 million over a $10 million threshold, up to 5% if the picture exceeded $60 million. According to Evans, Brando sold back his points in the picture for $100,000, as he was in dire need of funds. "That $100,000 cost him $11 million," Evans claimed.
Brando's performance was glowingly reviewed by critics. "I thought it would be interesting to play a gangster, maybe for the first time in the movies, who wasn't like those bad guys Edward G. Robinson played, but who is kind of a hero, a man to be respected," Brando recalled in his autobiography. Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance, but he declined it, becoming the second actor to refuse a Best Actor award (after George C. Scott for Patton). Brando did not attend the award ceremony; instead, he sent actress Sacheen Littlefeather (who appeared in Plains Indian-style regalia) to decline the Oscar on his behalf. After refusing to touch the statue at the podium, she announced to the crowd that Brando was rejecting the award in protest of "the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry … and on television and movie reruns and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee." The Wounded Knee Occupation of 1973 was occurring at the time of the ceremony. Brando had written a longer speech for her to read but, as she explained, this was not permitted due to time constraints. In the written speech Brando added that he hoped his declining the Oscar would be seen as "an earnest effort to focus attention on an issue that might very well determine whether or not this country has the right to say from this point forward we believe in the inalienable rights of all people to remain free and independent on lands that have supported their life beyond living memory."
The actor followed The Godfather with Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 film Last Tango in Paris, playing opposite Maria Schneider. The movie was a hit, and Brando made the list of Top Ten Box Office Stars for the last time. His gross participation deal earned him $3 million. The voting membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences again nominated Brando for Best Actor, his seventh nomination. Although Brando won the 1973 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, he did not attend the ceremony or send a representative to pick up the award if he won.
In 1976, Brando appeared in The Missouri Breaks with his friend Jack Nicholson. The movie also reunited the actor with director Arthur Penn. Critics were unkind, with The Sun complained, "Marlon Brando at fifty-two has the sloppy belly of a sixty-two-year-old, the white hair of a seventy-two-year-old, and the lack of discipline of a precocious twelve-year-old."
Brando portrayed Superman's father Jor-El in the 1978 film Superman. He agreed to the role only on assurance that he would be paid a large sum for what amounted to a small part, that he would not have to read the script beforehand, and that his lines would be displayed somewhere off-camera. It was revealed in a documentary contained in the 2001 DVD release of Superman that he was paid $3.7 million for two weeks of work. Brando also filmed scenes for the movie's sequel, Superman II, but after producers refused to pay him the same percentage he received for the first movie, he denied them permission to use the footage. "I asked for my usual percentage," he recollected in his memoir, "but they refused, and so did I."
In 1979, he made a rare television appearance in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, portraying George Lincoln Rockwell; he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance.
Brando starred as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now (1979). He plays a highly decorated U.S. Army Special Forces officer who goes renegade, running his own operation based in Cambodia and is feared by the U.S. military as much as the Vietnamese. Brando was paid $1 million a week for 3 weeks work. The film drew attention for its lengthy and troubled production, as Eleanor Coppola's documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse documents: Brando showed up on the set overweight, Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack, and severe weather destroyed several expensive sets. The film's release was also postponed several times while Coppola edited millions of feet of footage. In the documentary, Coppola talks about how astonished he was when an overweight Brando turned up for his scenes, "He was already heavy when I hired him and he promised me that he was going to get in shape and I imagined that I would, if he were heavy, I could use that. But he was so fat, he was very, very shy about it ... He was very, very adamant about how he didn't want to portray himself that way." Brando admitted to Coppola that he had not read the book, Heart of Darkness, as the director had asked him to, and the pair spent days exploring the story and the character of Kurtz, much to the actor's financial benefit, according to producer Fred Roos: "The clock was ticking on this deal he had and we had to finish him within three weeks or we'd go into this very expensive overage ... And Francis and Marlon would be talking about the character and whole days would go by. And this is at Marlon's urging—and yet he's getting paid for it."
Upon release, Apocalypse Now earned critical acclaim, as did Brando's performance. His whispering of Kurtz's final words "The horror! The horror!", has become particularly famous. Brando received a fee of $2 million plus 10% of the gross theatrical rental and 10% of the TV sale rights, earning him around $9 million.
After appearing as oil tycoon Adam Steiffel in 1980's The Formula, which was poorly received critically, Brando announced his retirement from acting. However, he returned in 1989 in A Dry White Season, based on André Brink's 1979 anti-apartheid novel. Brando received praise for his performance, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and winning the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo Film Festival.
Brando scored enthusiastic reviews for his caricature of his Vito Corleone role as Carmine Sabatini in 1990's The Freshman. Brando starred alongside his friend Johnny Depp on the box office hit Don Juan DeMarco (1995).
Later performances, such as his appearance in Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) (for which he was nominated for a Raspberry as "Worst Supporting Actor"), The Island of Dr. Moreau (in which he won a "Worst Supporting Actor" Raspberry) (1996), and his barely recognizable appearance in Free Money (1998), resulted in some of the worst reviews of his career.
Unlike its immediate predecessors, Brando's last completed film, The Score (2001), was received generally positively. In the film, in which he portrays a fence, he starred with Robert De Niro.
After Brando's death, the novel Fan-Tan was released. Brando conceived the novel with director Donald Cammell in 1979, but it was not released until 2005.
Final years and death
Brando gained a great deal of weight in the 1970s; by the early-to-mid-1990s he weighed over 300 pounds (140 kg) and suffered from Type 2 diabetes. He had a history of weight fluctuation throughout his career that, by and large, he attributed to his years of stress-related overeating followed by compensatory dieting. He also earned a reputation for being difficult on the set, often unwilling or unable to memorize his lines and less interested in taking direction than in confronting the film director with odd demands. He also dabbled with some innovation in his last years. He had several patents issued in his name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, all of which involve a method of tensioning drumheads, between June 2002 and November 2004 (for example, see U.S. Patent 6,812,392).
Brando was cremated and his ashes were put in with those of his good friend Wally Cox. They were then scattered partly in Tahiti and partly in Death Valley. In 2007, a 165-minute biopic of Brando for Turner Classic Movies, Brando: The Documentary, produced by Mike Medavoy (the executor of Brando's will), was released.
Brando was known for his tumultuous personal life and his large number of partners and children. He was the father to at least 11 children, three of whom were adopted.
Brando married actress Anna Kashfi in 1957. Kashfi was born in Calcutta and moved to Wales from India in 1947. Brando and Kashfi had a son, Christian Brando, on May 11, 1958; they divorced in 1959.
In 1960, Brando married Movita Castaneda, a Mexican-American actress; the marriage was annulled in 1968 after it was discovered her previous marriage was still active. They had two children together: Miko Castaneda Brando (born 1961) and Rebecca Brando (born 1966).
French actress Tarita Teriipaia, who played Brando's love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty, became his third wife on August 10, 1962. She was 20 years old, 18 years younger than Brando. Because Teriipaia was a native French speaker, Brando became fluent in the language and gave numerous interviews in French. Brando and Teriipaia had two children together: Simon Teihotu Brando (born 1963) and Tarita Cheyenne Brando (1970–1995). Brando also adopted Teriipaia's daughter, Maimiti Brando (born 1977) and niece, Raiatua Brando (born 1982). Brando and Teriipaia divorced in July 1972.
Brando had a long-term relationship with his housekeeper Maria Cristina Ruiz, with whom he had three children: Ninna Priscilla Brando (born May 13, 1989), Myles Jonathan Brando (born January 16, 1992), and Timothy Gahan Brando (born January 6, 1994). Brando also adopted Petra Brando-Corval (born 1972), the daughter of his assistant Caroline Barrett and novelist James Clavell.
Brando attended some fundraisers for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. In August 1963, he participated in the March on Washington along with fellow celebrities Harry Belafonte, James Garner, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster and Sidney Poitier. Along with Paul Newman, Brando also participated in the Freedom Rides. Brando supported Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 United States presidential election.
In the aftermath of the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Brando made one of the strongest commitments to furthering King's work. Shortly after King's death, he announced that he was bowing out of the lead role of a major film (The Arrangement) (1969) which was about to begin production in order to devote himself to the civil rights movement. "I felt I'd better go find out where it is; what it is to be black in this country; what this rage is all about," Brando said on the late-night ABC-TV talk show Joey Bishop Show. In A&E's Biography episode on Brando, actor and co-star Martin Sheen states, "I'll never forget the night that Reverend King was shot and I turned on the news and Marlon was walking through Harlem with Mayor Lindsay. And there were snipers and there was a lot of unrest and he kept walking and talking through those neighborhoods with Mayor Lindsay. It was one of the most incredible acts of courage I ever saw, and it meant a lot and did a lot."
Brando's participation in the civil rights movement actually began well before King's death. In the early 1960s, he contributed thousands of dollars to both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.) and to a scholarship fund established for the children of slain Mississippi N.A.A.C.P. leader Medgar Evers. In 1964 Brando was arrested at a "fish-in" held to protest a broken treaty that had promised Native Americans fishing rights in Puget Sound. By this time, Brando was already involved in films that carried messages about human rights: Sayonara, which addressed interracial romance, and The Ugly American, depicting the conduct of U.S. officials abroad and the deleterious effect on the citizens of foreign countries. For a time, he was also donating money to the Black Panther Party and considered himself a friend of founder Bobby Seale. Brando ended his financial support for the group over his perception of its increasing radicalization, specifically a passage in a Panther pamphlet put out by Eldridge Cleaver advocating indiscriminate violence, "for the Revolution."
Brando was also a supporter of Native American rights and the American Indian Movement. The March 1964 fish-in protest near Tacoma, Washington where he was arrested while protesting for fishing treaty rights won him respect from members of the Puyallup tribe, who reportedly dubbed the spot where he was arrested "Brando's Landing." At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, Brando refused to accept the Oscar for his career-reviving performance in The Godfather. Sacheen Littlefeather represented him at the ceremony. She appeared in full Apache attire and stated that owing to the "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry", Brando would not accept the award. This occurred while the standoff at Wounded Knee was ongoing. The event grabbed the attention of the US and the world media. This was considered a major event and victory for the movement by its supporters and participants.
Outside of his film work, Brando appeared before the California Assembly in support of a fair housing law and personally joined picket lines in demonstrations protesting discrimination in housing developments in 1963.
He was also an activist against apartheid. In 1964, he favored a boycott of his films in South Africa to prevent them from being shown to a segregated audience. He took part at a 1975 protest rally against American investments in South Africa and for the release of Nelson Mandela. In 1989, Brando also starred in the film A Dry White Season, based upon André Brink's novel of the same name.
Brando was one of the most respected actors of the post-war era. He is listed by the American Film Institute as the fourth greatest male star whose screen debut occurred before or during 1950 (it occurred in 1950). He earned respect among critics for his memorable performances and charismatic screen presence. He helped popularize 'method acting'. He is regarded as one of the greatest cinema actors of the 20th century.
Marlon Brando is a cultural icon with enduring popularity. His rise to national attention in the 1950s had a profound effect on American culture.
His portrayal of the gang leader Johnny Strabler in The Wild One has become an enduring image, used both as a symbol of rebelliousness and a fashion accessory that includes a Perfecto style motorcycle jacket, a tilted cap, jeans and sunglasses. Johnny's haircut inspired a craze for sideburns, followed by James Dean and Elvis Presley, among others. Dean copied Brando's acting style extensively and Presley used Brando's image as a model for his role in Jailhouse Rock. The "I coulda been a contender" scene from On the Waterfront, according to the author of Brooklyn Boomer, Martin H. Levinson, is "one of the most famous scenes in motion picture history, and the line itself has become part of America's cultural lexicon."
Awards and honors
Brando was named the fourth greatest male star whose screen debut occurred before or during 1950 by the American Film Institute, and part of TIME magazine's Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. He was also named one of the top 10 "Icons of the Century" by Variety magazine.
In Spanish: Marlon Brando para niños
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