Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando

Overview
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star
Movie star
A movie star is a celebrity who is well-known, or famous, for his or her starring, or leading, roles in motion pictures. The term may also apply to an actor or actress who is recognized as a marketable commodity and whose name is used to promote a movie in trailers and posters...

 and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture is a cross-curriculum English-language resource that publishes scholarly articles and features on a range of popular culture topics such as television, movies, theater, radio, music, print media, sports, fashion, health and politics. It is available in...

, Brando was the only professional actor, aside from Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

, named by Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 magazine as one of its 100 Persons of the Century
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century is a compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people, published in Time magazine in 1999....

 in 1999.

Brando had a significant impact on film acting, and was the foremost example of the "method" acting
Method acting
Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances...

 style. While he became notorious for his "mumbling" diction and exuding a raw animal magnetism, his mercurial performances were nonetheless highly regarded, and he is widely considered as one of the greatest and most influential actors of the 20th century.
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Quotations

An actor's a guy, who if you ain't talking about him, ain't listening.

The Observer (1956)

I think awards in this country at this time are inappropriate to be received or given until the condition of the American Indian is drastically altered. If we are not our brother's keeper, at least let us not be his executioner.

Speech for the Academy Awards written by Brando as it appeared in the New York Times (March 30, 1973)

Bertolucci is extraordinary in his ability to perceive, he's a poet...he is very easy to work for.

Rolling Stone Issue No. 213 (May 20, 1976) on Bernardo Bertolucci|Bernardo Bertolucci.

Chaplin you got to go with. Chaplin is a man whose talents is such that you have to gamble. First off, comedy is his backyard. He's a genius, a cinematic genius. A comedic talent without peer.

Rolling Stone Issue No. 213 (May 20, 1976) on Charlie Chaplin

Kazan is a performer's director, the best director I ever worked with... Most actors don't get any help from directors. Emotional help, if you're playing an emotional part. Kazan is the only one I know who really gives you help.

Rolling Stone Issue No. 213 (May 20, 1976) on Elia Kazan|Elia Kazan

Even today I meet people who think of me automatically as a tough, insensitive, coarse guy named Stanley Kowalski|Stanley Kowalski. They can't help it, but, it is troubling.

Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994)

I was surprised as anyone when T-shirts, jeans and leather jackets suddenly became symbols of rebellion. In the film there was a scene in which somebody asked my character, Johnny, what I was rebelling against, and I answered 'Whaddya got?' But none of us involved in the picture ever imagined that it would instigate or encourage youthful rebellion.

Speaking about the film The Wild One (1953) in Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994)

On the day Kazan showed me the completed picture I was so depressed by my performance that I got up and left the screening room.

Speaking of his performance in On the Waterfront (1954). Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994)
Encyclopedia
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American movie star
Movie star
A movie star is a celebrity who is well-known, or famous, for his or her starring, or leading, roles in motion pictures. The term may also apply to an actor or actress who is recognized as a marketable commodity and whose name is used to promote a movie in trailers and posters...

 and political activist. "Unchallenged as the most important actor in modern American Cinema" according to the St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture
The St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture is a cross-curriculum English-language resource that publishes scholarly articles and features on a range of popular culture topics such as television, movies, theater, radio, music, print media, sports, fashion, health and politics. It is available in...

, Brando was the only professional actor, aside from Charlie Chaplin
Charlie Chaplin
Sir Charles Spencer "Charlie" Chaplin, KBE was an English comic actor, film director and composer best known for his work during the silent film era. He became the most famous film star in the world before the end of World War I...

, named by Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

 magazine as one of its 100 Persons of the Century
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century is a compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people, published in Time magazine in 1999....

 in 1999.

Brando had a significant impact on film acting, and was the foremost example of the "method" acting
Method acting
Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances...

 style. While he became notorious for his "mumbling" diction and exuding a raw animal magnetism, his mercurial performances were nonetheless highly regarded, and he is widely considered as one of the greatest and most influential actors of the 20th century. Director Martin Scorsese
Martin Scorsese
Martin Charles Scorsese is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, actor, and film historian. In 1990 he founded The Film Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to film preservation, and in 2007 he founded the World Cinema Foundation...

 said of him, "He is the marker. There's 'before Brando' and 'after Brando'." Actor Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

 once said, "When Marlon dies, everybody moves up one." He was ranked by the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

 as the fourth greatest screen legend among male movie stars.

An enduring cultural icon
Cultural icon
A cultural icon can be a symbol, logo, picture, name, face, person, building or other image that is readily recognized and generally represents an object or concept with great cultural significance to a wide cultural group...

, Brando became a box office star during the 1950s, during which time he racked up five Oscar nominations as Best Actor, along with three consecutive wins of the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Best Actor in a Leading Role is a British Academy Film award presented annually by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding leading performance in a film.-Superlatives:...

. He initially gained popularity for recreating the role as Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski is a fictional character in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire.-In the play:Stanley lives in the working class Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans with his wife, Stella , and is employed as a factory parts salesman. He was an Army engineer in WWII, having...

 in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), a Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

 play that had established him as a Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 star during its 1947-49 stage run; and for his Academy Award-winning performance as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard...

 (1954), as well as for his iconic portrayal of the rebel motorcycle gang leader Johnny Strabler in The Wild One
The Wild One
The Wild One is a 1953 outlaw biker film directed by László Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. It is famed for Marlon Brando's iconic portrayal of the gang leader Johnny Strabler.-Basis:...

 (1953), which is considered to be one of the most famous images in pop culture. Brando was also nominated for the Oscar for playing Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata
Emiliano Zapata Salazar was a leading figure in the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910, and which was initially directed against the president Porfirio Díaz. He formed and commanded an important revolutionary force, the Liberation Army of the South, during the Mexican Revolution...

 in Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata! is a 1952 fictional-biographical film directed by Elia Kazan. The screenplay was written by John Steinbeck, using as a guide Edgcomb Pinchon's book, 'Zapata the Unconquerable', a fact that is not credited in the titles of the film...

 (1952); Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

 in Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Joseph Leo Mankiewicz was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career and is best known as the writer-director of All About Eve , which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six. He was brother to screenwriter and drama critic Herman J...

's 1953 film adaptation
Julius Caesar (1953 film)
Julius Caesar is an 1953 MGM film adaptation of the play by Shakespeare, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the uncredited screenplay, and produced by John Houseman. The original music score is by Miklós Rózsa...

 of Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

's Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar (play)
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar, also known simply as Julius Caesar, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written in 1599. It portrays the 44 BC conspiracy against...

; and as Air Force Major Lloyd Gruver in Sayonara
Sayonara
Sayonara is a 1957 color American film starring Marlon Brando. It tells the story of an American Air Force flier who was an "ace" fighter pilot during the Korean War....

 (1957), Joshua Logan
Joshua Logan
Joshua Lockwood Logan III was an American stage and film director and writer.-Early years:Logan was born in Texarkana, Texas, the son of Susan and Joshua Lockwood Logan. When he was three years old his father committed suicide...

's adaption of James Michener's 1954 novel. Brando made the Top Ten Money Making Stars
Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll
The Top Ten Money Making Stars Poll has been published every year, from a poll of movie exhibitors, every year since 1932 by Quigley Publishing Company. The list is based on a poll of movie theater owners, who are asked to name the previous year's top 10 moneymaking stars...

, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual survey of movie exhibitors, three times in the decade, coming in at number 10 in 1954, number 6 in 1955, and number 4 in 1958.

Brando directed and starred in the cult
Cult film
A cult film, also commonly referred to as a cult classic, is a film that has acquired a highly devoted but specific group of fans. Often, cult movies have failed to achieve fame outside the small fanbases; however, there have been exceptions that have managed to gain fame among mainstream audiences...

 western film One-Eyed Jacks
One-Eyed Jacks
One-Eyed Jacks, a 1961 Western, is the only film directed by actor Marlon Brando, who also played its lead character, Rio.The film was originally to be directed by Stanley Kubrick and Sam Peckinpah...

 that was released in 1961, after which he delivered a series of box office failures beginning with the non-success of the 1962 film adaptation
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962 film)
Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1962 film starring Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard based on the novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard HMAV Bounty led by Fletcher Christian against the ship's captain, William Bligh...

 of Mutiny on the Bounty
Mutiny on the Bounty (novel)
For the actual event described in this book, see Mutiny on the Bounty.Mutiny on the Bounty is the title of the 1932 novel by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall, based on the mutiny against Lieutenant William Bligh, commanding officer of the Bounty in 1789. It has been made into several films...

. The 1960s proved to be a fallow decade for Brando, and after 10 years in which he did not appear in a commercially successful movie, he won his second Academy Award for playing Vito Corleone
Vito Corleone
Vito Andolini Corleone is a fictional character and the main character in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather, as well as Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather trilogy, where he was portrayed by Marlon Brando in The Godfather and by Robert De Niro in The Godfather Part II. Premiere Magazine listed Vito...

 in Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

's The Godfather
The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

 (1972), a role critics consider among his greatest. The movie, which became the most commercially successful film of all time when it was released — along with his Oscar-nominated performance as Paul in Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in Paris is a 1972 Italian romantic drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci which portrays a recent American widower who takes up an anonymous sexual relationship with a young, soon-to-be-married Parisian woman...

 (1972), another smash hit — revitalized Brando's career and reestablished him in the ranks of top box office stars, placing him at number 6 and number 10 in Top 10 Money Making Stars poll in 1972 and 1973, respectively.

Brando failed to capitalize on the momentum of his revitalized career, taking a long hiatus before appearing in The Missouri Breaks
The Missouri Breaks
The Missouri Breaks is a 1976 American western film starring Marlon Brando and Jack Nicholson. The film was directed by Arthur Penn, with supporting performances by Randy Quaid, Harry Dean Stanton, Frederic Forrest, John McLiam and Kathleen Lloyd...

 (1976), a box office bomb. Afterwards, he was content to be a highly-paid character actor in parts that were glorified cameos
Cameo appearance
A cameo role or cameo appearance is a brief appearance of a known person in a work of the performing arts, such as plays, films, video games and television...

 in Superman (1978) and The Formula (1980) before taking a nine-year break from motion pictures. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Brando was paid a record $3.7 million ($ in today's funds) plus 11.75% of the gross profits for 13 days work playing Jor-El
Jor-El
Jor-El is a fictional character, an extraterrestrial in the . He was created by the writer Jerry Siegel and the artist Joe Shuster, and he first appeared in a newspaper comic strip in 1939 as Superman's biological father....

 in Superman, further adding to his mystique. He finished out the decade of the 1970s with his highly-controversial performance as Colonel Walter Kurtz
Walter E. Kurtz
Colonel Walter E. Kurtz is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, portrayed by Marlon Brando. Colonel Kurtz is based on the character of a 19th century ivory trader, also called Kurtz, from the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.-Biography:Walter...

 in another Coppola film, Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American war film set during the Vietnam War, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The central character is US Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard , of MACV-SOG, an assassin sent to kill the renegade and presumed insane Special Forces...

 (1979), a box office hit for which he was highly paid and that helped finance his career layoff during the 1980s.

Brando was also an activist
Activism
Activism consists of intentional efforts to bring about social, political, economic, or environmental change. Activism can take a wide range of forms from writing letters to newspapers or politicians, political campaigning, economic activism such as boycotts or preferentially patronizing...

, supporting many issues, notably the African-American Civil Rights Movement and various American Indian Movement
American Indian Movement
The American Indian Movement is a Native American activist organization in the United States, founded in 1968 in Minneapolis, Minnesota by urban Native Americans. The national AIM agenda focuses on spirituality, leadership, and sovereignty...

s.

Early life


Marlon Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha, Nebraska
Omaha is the largest city in the state of Nebraska, United States, and is the county seat of Douglas County. It is located in the Midwestern United States on the Missouri River, about 20 miles north of the mouth of the Platte River...

, to Marlon Brando, Sr.
Marlon Brando, Sr.
Marlon Brando, Sr. was an American film producer and the father of Oscar-winning actor Marlon Brando.-Biography:...

, a pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

 and chemical feed manufacturer, and his wife, Dorothy Julia (née Pennebaker)
Dodie Brando
Dorothy Pennebaker "Dodie" Brando, was the mother of Marlon Brando and among the members of the Omaha Community Playhouse's first cast.-Biography:...

. His parents moved to Evanston, Illinois
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

, but separated when he was eleven years old. His mother took her three children: Jocelyn
Jocelyn Brando
Jocelyn Brando was an American film, stage and television actress.Her film debut came in the war movie China Venture with Edmond O'Brien and Barry Sullivan. Her best-known movie role was as detective Glenn Ford's doomed wife in the gangster film noir The Big Heat...

 (1919–2005), Frances (1922–1994) and Marlon, to live with her mother in Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana, California
Santa Ana is the county seat and second most populous city in Orange County, California, and with a population of 324,528 at the 2010 census, Santa Ana is the 57th-most populous city in the United States....

. In 1937, Brando's parents reconciled and moved together to Libertyville, Illinois
Libertyville, Illinois
Libertyville is an affluent northern suburb of Chicago in Lake County, Illinois, United States. It is located west of Lake Michigan on the Des Plaines River. The 2000 census population was 20,742; the 2005 estimate was 21,760...

, north of Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

.

Brando's family was of mostly Irish and distant French ancestry. Brando was raised a Christian Scientist
Church of Christ, Scientist
The Church of Christ, Scientist was founded in 1879 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, by Mary Baker Eddy. She was the author of the book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Christian Science teaches that the "allness" of God denies the reality of sin, sickness, death, and the material world...

. His grandmother Marie Holloway abandoned her family when Marlon Brando, Sr., was five years old. She used the money Eugene sent her to support her gambling and alcoholism.

Marlon Brando, Sr., was a talented amateur photographer. His wife, known as Dodie, was unconventional but talented, having been an actress. She smoked, wore trousers
Trousers
Trousers are an item of clothing worn on the lower part of the body from the waist to the ankles, covering both legs separately...

, and drove cars, unusual for women at the time. However, she was an alcoholic
Alcoholism
Alcoholism is a broad term for problems with alcohol, and is generally used to mean compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcoholic beverages, usually to the detriment of the drinker's health, personal relationships, and social standing...

 and often had to be brought home from Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 bars by her husband; she finally joined Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international mutual aid movement which says its "primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety." Now claiming more than 2 million members, AA was founded in 1935 by Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio...

. Dodie Brando acted and was a theater administrator. She helped Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
Henry Jaynes Fonda was an American film and stage actor.Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor. He also appeared in 1938 in plays performed in White Plains, New York, with Joan Tompkins...

 to begin his acting career, and fueled her son Marlon's interest in stage acting
Theatre
Theatre is a collaborative form of fine art that uses live performers to present the experience of a real or imagined event before a live audience in a specific place. The performers may communicate this experience to the audience through combinations of gesture, speech, song, music or dance...

. However, Brando was closer to his maternal grandmother, Bessie Gahan Pennebaker Meyers, than to his mother. Widowed while young, Meyers worked as a secretary and later as a Christian Science
Christian Science
Christian Science is a system of thought and practice derived from the writings of Mary Baker Eddy and the Bible. It is practiced by members of The First Church of Christ, Scientist as well as some others who are nonmembers. Its central texts are the Bible and the Christian Science textbook,...

 practitioner. Her father, Myles Gahan, was a doctor
Physician
A physician is a health care provider who practices the profession of medicine, which is concerned with promoting, maintaining or restoring human health through the study, diagnosis, and treatment of disease, injury and other physical and mental impairments...

 from Ireland; her mother, Julia Watts, was from England.

Brando was a mimic
Imitation
Imitation is an advanced behavior whereby an individual observes and replicates another's. The word can be applied in many contexts, ranging from animal training to international politics.-Anthropology and social sciences:...

 from early childhood and developed an ability to absorb the mannerisms of people he played and display them dramatically while staying in character. His sister Jocelyn Brando
Jocelyn Brando
Jocelyn Brando was an American film, stage and television actress.Her film debut came in the war movie China Venture with Edmond O'Brien and Barry Sullivan. Her best-known movie role was as detective Glenn Ford's doomed wife in the gangster film noir The Big Heat...

 was the first to pursue an acting career, going to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Art. She appeared on Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

, then movies and television. Brando's sister Frances left college in California to study art in New York. Brando soon followed her.

Brando had been held back a year in school and was later expelled from Libertyville High School
Libertyville High School
Libertyville High School, or LHS, is a public four-year high school located in Libertyville, Illinois, a northern suburb of Chicago, Illinois, in the United States...

 for riding his motorcycle through the corridors. He was sent to Shattuck Military Academy, where his father had studied before him. Brando excelled at theatre and did well in the school. In his final year (1943), however, he was put on probation for talking back to a student officer during maneuvers. He was confined to the campus, but tried going 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
Ditch
A ditch is usually defined as a small to moderate depression created to channel water.In Anglo-Saxon, the word dïc already existed and was pronounced 'deek' in northern England and 'deetch' in the south. The origins of the word lie in digging a trench and forming the upcast soil into a bank...

-digger as a summer job arranged by his father. It was during this time that Brando attempted to join the Army. However at his army induction physical it was discovered that a football injury that he had sustained at Shattuck had left him with a trick knee. Brando was therefore classified as a 4-F, and not inducted into the Army. He then decided to follow his sisters to New York. His father supported him for six months, then offered to help him find a job as a sales
Sales
A sale is the act of selling a product or service in return for money or other compensation. It is an act of completion of a commercial activity....

man. However, Brando left to study at the American Theatre Wing Professional School
American Theatre Wing
The American Theatre Wing is a New York City-based organization "dedicated to supporting excellence and education in theatre," according to its mission statement...

, part of the Dramatic Workshop
Dramatic Workshop
Dramatic Workshop was the name of a drama and acting school associated with the New School for Social Research in New York City. It was launched in 1940 by German expatriate stage director Erwin Piscator. Among the faculty were Lee Strasberg and Stella Adler, among the students Marlon Brando, Tony...

 of The New School
The New School
The New School is a university in New York City, located mostly in Greenwich Village. From its founding in 1919 by progressive New York academics, and for most of its history, the university was known as the New School for Social Research. Between 1997 and 2005 it was known as New School University...

 with the influential German director Erwin Piscator
Erwin Piscator
Erwin Friedrich Maximilian Piscator was a German theatre director and producer and, with Bertolt Brecht, the foremost exponent of epic theatre, a form that emphasizes the socio-political content of drama, rather than its emotional manipulation of the audience or on the production's formal...

 and at the Actors Studio
Actors Studio
The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights at 432 West 44th Street in the Clinton neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It was founded October 5, 1947, by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, Robert Lewis and Anna Sokolow who provided...

. He also studied with Stella Adler
Stella Adler
Stella Adler was an American actress and an acclaimed acting teacher, who founded the Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City and the The Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles with long-time protege Joanne Linville, who continues to teach and furthers Adler's legacy...

 and learned the techniques of the Stanislavski System
Stanislavski System
Stanislavski's system is a progression of techniques used to train actors to draw believable emotions to their performances. The method that was originally created and used by Constantin Stanislavski from 1911-1916 was based on the concept of emotional memory for which an actor focuses internally...

. There is a story in which Adler spoke about teaching Brando, saying that she had instructed the class to act like chickens, then adding 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 from a bomb?"

Early work


Brando used his Stanislavski System
Stanislavski System
Stanislavski's system is a progression of techniques used to train actors to draw believable emotions to their performances. The method that was originally created and used by Constantin Stanislavski from 1911-1916 was based on the concept of emotional memory for which an actor focuses internally...

 skills for his first summer-stock roles in Sayville, New York
Sayville, New York
Sayville is a hamlet and CDP in Suffolk County, New York, . Located on the south shore of Long Island in the Town of Islip, the population of the CDP was 16,735 at the time of the 2000 census.-History:...

, on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

. His behavior got him kicked out of the cast of the New School's production in Sayville, but he was discovered in a locally produced play there and then made it to Broadway
Broadway theatre
Broadway theatre, commonly called simply Broadway, refers to theatrical performances presented in one of the 40 professional theatres with 500 or more seats located in the Theatre District centered along Broadway, and in Lincoln Center, in Manhattan in New York City...

 in the bittersweet drama I Remember Mama
I Remember Mama
I Remember Mama is a play by John Van Druten. Based on the fictionalized memoir Mama's Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes, it focuses on the Hanson family, a loving family of Norwegian immigrants living on Steiner Street in San Francisco in the 1910s.Produced by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein...

 in 1944. Critics voted him "Broadway's Most Promising Actor" for his role as an anguished veteran in Truckline Café
Truckline Cafe
Truckline Cafe was the title of a 1946 Broadway play written by Maxwell Anderson, directed by Harold Clurman, produced by Elia Kazan, and starring Marlon Brando and Karl Malden...

, although the play was a commercial failure
Failure
Failure refers to the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, and may be viewed as the opposite of success. Product failure ranges from failure to sell the product to fracture of the product, in the worst cases leading to personal injury, the province of forensic...

. In 1946 he appeared on Broadway as the young hero in the political drama A Flag is Born
A Flag is Born
A Flag Is Born was a play promoting the creation of a Jewish State in the ancient land of Israel. It opened on Broadway on September 4, 1946. The cast included Paul Muni, Celia Adler and Marlon Brando. Hollywood’s most successful screenwriter, Ben Hecht, was the playwright; it was directed by...

, refusing to accept wages above the Actor's Equity rate because of his commitment to the cause of Israeli independence. In that same year, Brando played the role of Marchbanks with Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell
Katharine Cornell was an American stage actress, writer, theater owner and producer. She was born to American parents and raised in Buffalo, New York.Cornell is known as the greatest American stage actress of the 20th century...

 in her production's revival of Candida
Candida (play)
Candida, a comedy by playwright George Bernard Shaw, was first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida's affections. The play questions Victorian notions...

, one of her signature roles. Cornell also cast him as The Messenger in a her production of Jean Anouilh
Jean Anouilh
Jean Marie Lucien Pierre Anouilh was a French dramatist whose career spanned five decades. Though his work ranged from high drama to absurdist farce, Anouilh is best known for his 1943 play Antigone, an adaptation of Sophocles' Classical drama, that was seen as an attack on Marshal Pétain's...

's Antigone
Antigone
In Greek mythology, Antigone is the daughter of Oedipus and Jocasta, Oedipus' mother. The name may be taken to mean "unbending", coming from "anti-" and "-gon / -gony" , but has also been suggested to mean "opposed to motherhood", "in place of a mother", or "anti-generative", based from the root...

 that same year. Brando achieved stardom, however, as Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski is a fictional character in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire.-In the play:Stanley lives in the working class Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans with his wife, Stella , and is employed as a factory parts salesman. He was an Army engineer in WWII, having...

 in Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

's 1947 play A Streetcar Named Desire
A Streetcar Named Desire (play)
A Streetcar Named Desire is a 1947 play written by American playwright Tennessee Williams for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1948. The play opened on Broadway on December 3, 1947, and closed on December 17, 1949, in the Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The Broadway production was...

, directed by Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan
Elia Kazan was an American director and actor, described by the New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history". Born in Istanbul, the capital of the Ottoman Empire, to Greek parents originally from Kayseri in Anatolia, the family emigrated...

. Brando sought out that role, driving out to Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown, Massachusetts
Provincetown is a New England town located at the extreme tip of Cape Cod in Barnstable County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 3,431 at the 2000 census, with an estimated 2007 population of 3,174...

, where Williams was spending the summer, to audition
Audition
An audition is a sample performance by an actor, singer, musician, dancer or other performing artist.Audition may also refer to:* The sense of hearing* Adobe Audition, audio editing software...

 for the part. Williams recalled that he opened the screen door and knew, instantly, that he had his Stanley Kowalski. Brando's performance revolutionized acting technique and set the model for the American form of method acting
Method acting
Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances...

.

Afterward, Brando was asked to do a screen test for Warner Brothers
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., also known as Warner Bros. Pictures or simply Warner Bros. , is an American producer of film and television entertainment.One of the major film studios, it is a subsidiary of Time Warner, with its headquarters in Burbank,...

 studio for the film Rebel Without A Cause
Rebel Without a Cause
Rebel Without a Cause is a 1955 American drama film about emotionally confused suburban, middle-class teenagers. Directed by Nicholas Ray, it offered both social commentary and an alternative to previous films depicting delinquents in urban slum environments...

. He had, however, refused the role later and James Dean
James Dean
James Byron Dean was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause , in which he starred as troubled Los Angeles teenager Jim Stark...

 was cast in. The screen test appears as an extra in the 2006 DVD release of A Streetcar Named Desire.

Brando's first screen role was as the bitter paraplegic veteran in The Men in 1950. True to his method, Brando spent a month in bed at the Birmingham Army Hospital in Van Nuys to prepare for the role. 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 an operation on the knee he had injured at Shattuck, 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 provided to him by saying his race was "human", his color was "Seasonal-oyster white to beige", and he told an Army doctor that he was psycho neurotic. When the draft board referred him to a psychiatrist, Brando explained how he had been expelled from Military School, and that he had severe problems with authority. Coincidentally enough, the psychiatrist knew a doctor friend of Brando, and Brando was able to avoid military service during the Korean War.

Rise to fame



Brando brought his performance as Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski
Stanley Kowalski is a fictional character in Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Named Desire.-In the play:Stanley lives in the working class Faubourg Marigny neighborhood of New Orleans with his wife, Stella , and is employed as a factory parts salesman. He was an Army engineer in WWII, having...

 to the screen in Kazan's adaptation of Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

's A Streetcar Named Desire, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for that role, and again in each of the next three years for his roles in Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata!
Viva Zapata! is a 1952 fictional-biographical film directed by Elia Kazan. The screenplay was written by John Steinbeck, using as a guide Edgcomb Pinchon's book, 'Zapata the Unconquerable', a fact that is not credited in the titles of the film...

 in 1952, Julius Caesar in 1953 as Mark Antony
Mark Antony
Marcus Antonius , known in English as Mark Antony, was a Roman politician and general. As a military commander and administrator, he was an important supporter and loyal friend of his mother's cousin Julius Caesar...

, and On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard...

 in 1954. These first five films of his career established Brando, as evidenced in his winning the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
Best Actor in a Leading Role is a British Academy Film award presented annually by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding leading performance in a film.-Superlatives:...

 in three consecutive years, 1951 to 1953.

In 1953, Brando also starred in The Wild One
The Wild One
The Wild One is a 1953 outlaw biker film directed by László Benedek and produced by Stanley Kramer. It is famed for Marlon Brando's iconic portrayal of the gang leader Johnny Strabler.-Basis:...

 riding his own Triumph Thunderbird
Triumph Thunderbird
The Triumph Thunderbird is a British motorcycle that was introduced by Triumph in 1949 and produced in its original form until 1966. The name was used three more times for new and distinct Triumph models.-Original model:...

 6T motorcycle which caused consternation to Triumph's importers, as the subject matter was rowdy motorcycle gangs taking over a small town. But the images of Brando posing with his Triumph motorcycle became iconic, even forming the basis of his wax dummy at Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds is a wax museum in London with branches in a number of major cities. It was founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud and was formerly known as "Madame Tussaud's", but the apostrophe is no longer used...

.

Later that same year, Brando starred in Lee Falk
Lee Falk
Lee Falk, born Leon Harrison Gross , was an American writer, theater director, and producer, best known as the creator of the popular comic strip superheroes The Phantom and Mandrake the Magician, who at the height of their popularity attracted over a hundred million readers every day...

's production of George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

's Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man
Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid in Latin:"Arma virumque cano" ....

 in Boston. Falk was proud to tell people that Marlon Brando turned down an offer of $10,000 per week on Broadway, in favor of working on Falk's play in Boston
Boston
Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

. His Boston contract was less than $500 per week. It would be the last time he ever acted in a stage play.


Brando won the Oscar for his role as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard...

. For the famous I coulda' been a contender scene, Brando convinced Kazan that the scripted scene was unrealistic, and with Rod Steiger
Rod Steiger
Rodney Stephen "Rod" Steiger was an Academy Award-winning American actor known for his performances in such films as On the Waterfront, The Big Knife, Oklahoma!, The Harder They Fall, Across the Bridge, The Pawnbroker, Doctor Zhivago, In the Heat of the Night, and Waterloo as well as the...

, improvised the final product.

Brando then took a variety of roles in the 1950s: portraying Napoleon in Désiréa, Sky Masterson in the musical Guys and Dolls
Guys and Dolls (film)
Guys and Dolls is a 1955 musical film starring Marlon Brando, Jean Simmons, Frank Sinatra and Vivian Blaine. The film was made by the Samuel Goldwyn Company and distributed by MGM. It was produced by Samuel Goldwyn, and directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, who also wrote the screenplay...

; Sakini, a Japanese interpreter for the U.S. Army in postwar Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 in The Teahouse of the August Moon; as a United States Air Force officer in Sayonara
Sayonara
Sayonara is a 1957 color American film starring Marlon Brando. It tells the story of an American Air Force flier who was an "ace" fighter pilot during the Korean War....

, and a Nazi officer in The Young Lions.

In the 1960s, Brando starred in films such as One-Eyed Jacks
One-Eyed Jacks
One-Eyed Jacks, a 1961 Western, is the only film directed by actor Marlon Brando, who also played its lead character, Rio.The film was originally to be directed by Stanley Kubrick and Sam Peckinpah...

 (1961), Mutiny on the Bounty
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962 film)
Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1962 film starring Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard based on the novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard HMAV Bounty led by Fletcher Christian against the ship's captain, William Bligh...

 (1962); a western that would be the only film Brando would ever direct; The Chase
The Chase (1966 film)
The Chase is a 1966 American drama film directed by Arthur Penn, about a series of events set into motion by a prison break. Since one of the two escapees is Charlie "Bubber" Reeves , the escape causes a stir in a nearby town where Bubber is a well-known figure.The film deals with themes of racism...

 (1966), and Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), portraying a repressed gay army officer. It was the type of performance that later led critic Stanley Crouch
Stanley Crouch
Stanley Crouch is an American music and cultural critic, syndicated columnist, and novelist, perhaps best known for his jazz criticism, and his novel Don't the Moon Look Lonesome?- Biography :...

 to write, "Brando's main achievement was to portray the taciturn but stoic gloom of those pulverized by circumstances." He also played a guru in the sex farce Candy
Candy (1968 film)
Candy is a 1968 sex farce film directed by Christian Marquand based on the 1958 novel by Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg, from a screenplay by Buck Henry. The film satirizes pornographic stories through the adventures of its naive heroine, Candy, played by Ewa Aulin...

 (1968). Burn!
Burn!
Burn! is a 1969 film directed by Gillo Pontecorvo; starring Marlon Brando. The plot is loosely based on events in the history of Guadeloupe.The main character is named after William Walker, the famous American filibuster...

 (1969), which Brando would later claim as his personal favorite, was a commercial failure. His career slowed down by the end of the decade as he gained a reputation for being difficult to work with.

The Godfather


Brando's performance as Vito Corleone
Vito Corleone
Vito Andolini Corleone is a fictional character and the main character in Mario Puzo's novel The Godfather, as well as Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather trilogy, where he was portrayed by Marlon Brando in The Godfather and by Robert De Niro in The Godfather Part II. Premiere Magazine listed Vito...

 or 'the Don'
in 1972's The Godfather
The Godfather
The Godfather is a 1972 American epic crime film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the 1969 novel by Mario Puzo. With a screenplay by Puzo, Coppola and an uncredited Robert Towne, the film stars Marlon Brando, Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Sterling Hayden, John Marley, Richard...

 was a mid-career turning point. Director Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

 convinced Brando to submit to a "make-up" test, in which Brando did his own makeup (he used cotton balls to simulate the puffed-cheek look). Coppola was electrified by Brando's characterization as the head of a crime family, but had to fight the studio in order to cast the temperamental Brando. Mario Puzo
Mario Puzo
Mario Gianluigi Puzo was an American author and screenwriter, known for his novels about the Mafia, including The Godfather , which he later co-adapted into a film by Francis Ford Coppola...

 always imagined Brando as Corleone. However, Paramount
Paramount Pictures
Paramount Pictures Corporation is an American film production and distribution company, located at 5555 Melrose Avenue in Hollywood. Founded in 1912 and currently owned by media conglomerate Viacom, it is America's oldest existing film studio; it is also the last major film studio still...

 studio heads wanted to give the role to Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas
Danny Thomas was an American nightclub comedian and television and film actor, best known for starring in the television sitcom Make Room for Daddy . He was also the founder of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital...

 in the hope that Thomas would have his own production company throw in its lot with Paramount. Thomas declined the role and actually urged the studio to cast Brando at the behest of Coppola and others who had witnessed the screen test.

Eventually, Charles Bluhdorn
Charles Bluhdorn
Charles Blühdorn was a Vienna, Austria-born American industrialist.-Biography:Per a Who's Who in Ridgefield he was considered such a "hellion" that his father sent the 11-year-old to an English boarding school for disciplining...

, the president of Paramount parent Gulf + Western, was won over to letting Brando have the role; when he saw the screen test, he asked in amazement, "What are we watching? Who is this old guinea?"

Brando won the Academy Award for Best Actor
Academy Award for Best Actor
Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role is one of the Academy Awards of Merit presented annually by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize an actor who has delivered an outstanding performance while working within the film industry...

 for his performance, but turned down the Oscar, becoming the second actor to refuse a Best Actor award (the first being George C. Scott
George C. Scott
George Campbell Scott was an American stage and film actor, director and producer. He was best known for his stage work, as well as his portrayal of General George S. Patton in the film Patton, and as General Buck Turgidson in Stanley Kubrick's Dr...

 for Patton
Patton (film)
Patton is a 1970 American biographical war film about U.S. General George S. Patton during World War II. It stars George C. Scott, Karl Malden, Michael Bates, and Karl Michael Vogler. It was directed by Franklin J. Schaffner from a script by Francis Ford Coppola and Edmund H...

). Brando boycotted the award ceremony, sending instead American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather is a Native American activist who donned Apache dress and presented a speech on behalf of actor Marlon Brando, for his performance in The Godfather, when he boycotted the 45th Academy Awards ceremony on March 27, 1973, in protest of the treatment of Native Americans by the...

, who appeared in full Apache dress, to state Brando's reasons, which were based on his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television.

The actor followed with Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci
Bernardo Bertolucci is an Italian film director and screenwriter, whose films include The Conformist, Last Tango in Paris, 1900, The Last Emperor and The Dreamers...

's 1973 film Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in Paris
Last Tango in Paris is a 1972 Italian romantic drama film directed by Bernardo Bertolucci which portrays a recent American widower who takes up an anonymous sexual relationship with a young, soon-to-be-married Parisian woman...

, but the performance was overshadowed by an uproar over the erotic nature of the film. Despite the controversy which attended both the film and the man, the Academy once again nominated Brando for the Best Actor.

Brando, along with James Caan
James Caan
James Caan is an American actor. He is best known for his starring roles in The Godfather, Thief, Misery, A Bridge Too Far, Brian's Song, Rollerball, Kiss Me Goodbye, Elf, and El Dorado...

, was later scheduled in 1974 to appear in the final scene of The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II
The Godfather Part II is a 1974 American gangster film directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script co-written with Mario Puzo. The film is both a sequel and a prequel to The Godfather, chronicling the story of the Corleone family following the events of the first film while also depicting the...

. However, rewrites were made to the script when Brando refused to show up to the studio on the single day of shooting, due to disputes with the studio.

Later career


Brando portrayed Superman
Superman
Superman is a fictional comic book superhero appearing in publications by DC Comics, widely considered to be an American cultural icon. Created by American writer Jerry Siegel and Canadian-born American artist Joe Shuster in 1932 while both were living in Cleveland, Ohio, and sold to Detective...

's father Jor-El
Jor-El
Jor-El is a fictional character, an extraterrestrial in the . He was created by the writer Jerry Siegel and the artist Joe Shuster, and he first appeared in a newspaper comic strip in 1939 as Superman's biological father....

 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 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 just two weeks of work.

Brando also filmed scenes for the movie's sequel, Superman II
Superman II
Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman and stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Ned Beatty, Sarah Douglas, Margot Kidder, and Jack O'Halloran. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors...

, but after producers refused to pay him the same percentage he received for the first movie, he denied them permission to use the footage. However, after Brando's death, the footage was reincorporated into the 2006 re-cut of the film, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut is a 2006 re-edit of the 1980 superhero film, Superman II, by Richard Donner, who shot a large part of the original movie before being replaced as director by Richard Lester. It stars Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Terence Stamp, Margot Kidder and Marlon Brando...

.

Two years after Brando's death, he "reprised" the role of Jor-El in the 2006 "loose sequel" Superman Returns
Superman Returns
Superman Returns is a 2006 superhero film directed by Bryan Singer. It is the fifth and final installment in the original Superman film series and serves as a alternate sequel to Superman and Superman II by ignoring the events of Superman III and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace .The film stars...

, in which both used and unused archive footage of Brando as Jor-El from the first two Superman films was remastered for a scene in the Fortress of Solitude
Fortress of Solitude
The Fortress of Solitude is the occasional headquarters of Superman in DC Comics. Its predecessor, Superman's "Secret Citadel", first appeared in Superman #17, where it was said to be built into a mountain on the outskirts of Metropolis...

, and Brando's voice-overs were used throughout the film.

Brando starred as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola
Francis Ford Coppola is an American film director, producer and screenwriter. He is widely acclaimed as one of Hollywood's most innovative and influential film directors...

's Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American war film set during the Vietnam War, produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The central character is US Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard , of MACV-SOG, an assassin sent to kill the renegade and presumed insane Special Forces...

. Brando plays a highly decorated American Army Special Forces officer who goes renegade. He runs his own operations out of Cambodia and is feared by the US military as much as the Vietnamese. Brando was paid $1 million a week for his work.

Despite announcing his retirement from acting in 1980, he subsequently gave interesting supporting performances in movies such as A Dry White Season
A Dry White Season
A Dry White Season is a film released in 1989 by Davros Films and Sundance Productions and distributed by MGM. It was directed by Euzhan Palcy and produced by Paula Weinstein, Mary Selway and Tim Hampton. The screenplay was by Colin Welland and Euzhan Palcy, based upon André Brink's novel of the...

 (for which he was again nominated for an Oscar in 1989), The Freshman
The Freshman (1990 film)
The Freshman is a 1990 American crime comedy film starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick, in which Brando parodies his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather....

 in 1990 and Don Juan DeMarco
Don Juan DeMarco
Don Juan DeMarco is a 1995 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Johnny Depp as John Arnold DeMarco, a man who believes himself to be Don Juan, the greatest lover in the world. Clad in a cape and domino mask, DeMarco undergoes psychiatric treatment with Marlon Brando's character, Dr. Jack...

 in 1995. In his last film, The Score
The Score (film)
The Score is a 2001 crime thriller directed by Frank Oz and starring Robert De Niro, Edward Norton, Angela Bassett and Marlon Brando.It was the final film performance for Brando and the only time he and De Niro appeared in a film together The Score is a 2001 crime thriller directed by Frank Oz and...

 (2001), he starred with fellow method actor Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro, Jr. is an American actor, director and producer. His first major film roles were in Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets, both in 1973...

. Some later performances, such as The Island of Dr Moreau
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996 film)
The Island of Dr. Moreau is a 1996 science fiction horror film, the third major movie version of the H. G. Wells novel The Island of Doctor Moreau about a scientist who attempts to convert animals into people...

 (1996), earned Brando some of the most uncomplimentary reviews of his career.

Brando conceived the idea of a novel called Fan-Tan with director Donald Cammell
Donald Cammell
Donald Seaton Cammell was a Scottish film director who enjoys a cult reputation thanks to his debut film Performance, which he co-directed with Nicolas Roeg.-Biography:...

 in 1979, which was not released until 2005.

In 2004, Brando signed with Tunisian film director Ridha Behion and began pre-production on a project to be titled Brando and Brando. Up to a week before his death, Brando was working on the script in anticipation of a July/August 2004 start date. Production was suspended in July 2004 following Brando's death, at which time Behi stated that he would continue the film as an homage to Brando, with a new title of Citizen Brando
Citizen Brando
Citizen Brando is an upcoming film directed by Tunisian director Ridha Behi. Originally titled Brando and Brando, it was set to star Marlon Brando and Christian Erickson until Brando's death.-Plot:...

.

Relationships and family



In Songs My Mother Taught Me, Brando claimed he met Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

 at a party where she played piano, unnoticed by anybody else there, and they had an affair and maintained an intermittent relationship for many years, receiving a telephone call from her several days before she died. He also claimed numerous other romances, although he did not discuss his marriages, his wives, or his children in his autobiography.

Brando married actress Anna Kashfi
Anna Kashfi
Anna Kashfi is a former film actress, who had a brief Hollywood career in the 1950s and is best known for having been married to Marlon Brando.-Early life and origins:...

 in 1957. Kashfi was born in Calcutta and moved to Wales from India in 1947. She is said to have been the daughter of a Welsh steel worker of Irish descent, William O'Callaghan, who had been superintendent on the Indian State railways
Indian Railways
Indian Railways , abbreviated as IR , is a departmental undertaking of Government of India, which owns and operates most of India's rail transport. It is overseen by the Ministry of Railways of the Government of India....

. However, in her book, Brando for Breakfast, she claimed that she really is half Indian and that the press incorrectly thought that her stepfather, O'Callaghan, was her real father. She said her real father was Indian and that she was the result of an "unregistered alliance" between her parents. Brando and Kashfi had a son, Christian Brando
Christian Brando
Christian Brando was the eldest child of actor Marlon Brando. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of the boyfriend of his half-sister Cheyenne. On May 16, 1990, Christian Brando had shot Dag Drollet to death at Marlon Brando's residence on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. He was...

, on May 11, 1958; they divorced in 1959.

In 1960, Brando married Movita Castaneda
Movita Castaneda
Maria "Movita" Castaneda is an American actress best known for being the second wife of actor Marlon Brando. She was six years older than Brando. In films, she played exotic women/singers, such as in Flying Down to Rio and Mutiny on the Bounty , of which she is the last surviving cast member....

, a Mexican-American actress seven years his senior; they were divorced in 1962. Castaneda had appeared in the first Mutiny on the Bounty
Mutiny on the Bounty (1935 film)
Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1935 film starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, and directed by Frank Lloyd based on the Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall novel Mutiny on the Bounty.The film was one of the biggest hits of its time...

 film in 1935, some 27 years before the 1962 remake
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962 film)
Mutiny on the Bounty is a 1962 film starring Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard based on the novel Mutiny on the Bounty by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall. The film retells the 1789 real-life mutiny aboard HMAV Bounty led by Fletcher Christian against the ship's captain, William Bligh...

 with Brando as Fletcher Christian
Fletcher Christian
Fletcher Christian was a master's mate on board the Bounty during William Bligh's fateful voyage to Tahiti for breadfruit plants...

. They had two children together, Miko Castaneda Brando (born 1961) and Rebecca Brando (born 1966).

Tahitian actress Tarita Teriipia
Tarita Teriipia
Tarita Teriipaia is a former actress of French Polynesian and Chinese descent most famous for being the wife of Marlon Brando...

, who played his love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty, became Brando's third wife on August 10, 1962. She was 20 years old, 18 years younger than Brando, who was reportedly delighted by her naiveté. Because Teriipia was a native French speaker, Brando became fluent in the language and gave numerous interviews in French. Teriipia became the mother of two of his children, Simon Teihotu Brando (born 1963) and Tarita Cheyenne Brando
Cheyenne Brando
Tarita Cheyenne Brando was the daughter of Marlon Brando by his third wife Tarita Teriipia, a Tahitian whom he met while filming Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962....

. Brando also adopted Teriipia's daughters Maimiti Brando (born 1977) and Raiatua Brando (born 1982). Brando and Teriipia divorced in July 1972.
Brando had a longterm relationship with his housekeeper Maria Christina Ruiz, by 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). He had three more children by unidentified women, Stefano Brando
Stephen Blackehart
Stephen Blackehart is an American actor and producer from Hell's Kitchen, New York. It has been reported that Blackehart was born Stefano Brando and is the son of actor Marlon Brando...

 (born 1967), Dylan Brando (born 1968), and Angelique Brando. He also adopted Petra Brando-Corval (born 1972), the daughter of his assistant Caroline Barrett and novelist James Clavell
James Clavell
James Clavell, born Charles Edmund DuMaresq Clavell was an Australian-born, British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and prisoner of war...

.

Death of Dag Drollet
In May 1990, Dag Drollet, the Tahitian lover of Brando's daughter Cheyenne
Cheyenne Brando
Tarita Cheyenne Brando was the daughter of Marlon Brando by his third wife Tarita Teriipia, a Tahitian whom he met while filming Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962....

, died of a gunshot wound after a confrontation with Cheyenne's half-brother Christian
Christian Brando
Christian Brando was the eldest child of actor Marlon Brando. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of the boyfriend of his half-sister Cheyenne. On May 16, 1990, Christian Brando had shot Dag Drollet to death at Marlon Brando's residence on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. He was...

 at the family's hilltop home above Beverly Hills. Christian, then 31 years old, claimed he was drunk and the shooting was accidental. After heavily publicized pre-trial proceedings, Christian pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter
Voluntary Manslaughter
Voluntary manslaughter is the killing of a human being in which the offender had no prior intent to kill and acted during "the heat of passion," under circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to become emotionally or mentally disturbed. In the Uniform Crime Reports prepared by the...

 and use of a gun. He was sentenced to ten years in prison. Before the sentence, Brando delivered an hour of testimony, in which he said he and his former wife had failed Christian. He commented softly to members of the Drollet family: "I'm sorry... If I could trade places with Dag, I would. I'm prepared for the consequences." Afterward, Drollet's father, Jacques, said he thought Brando was acting and his son was "getting away with murder." The tragedy was compounded in 1995, when Cheyenne, suffering from lingering effects of a serious car accident and said to still be depressed over Drollet's death, committed suicide by hanging herself in Tahiti. Christian Brando died of pneumonia at age 49, on January 26, 2008.

Tuki Brando
Tuki Brando
Tuki Brando is a French Polynesian fashion model from Tahiti and currently the face of Versace menswear. The son of Cheyenne Brando and Dag Drollet, he is the grandson of Academy Award-winning American actor Marlon Brando and Golden Globe-nominated Tahitian actress Tarita...

, one of Brando's numerous grandchildren, is a famous Tahiti
Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

an fashion model in his own right.
Brando's grandchildren also include Michael Brando (b.1988), son of Christian Brando
Christian Brando
Christian Brando was the eldest child of actor Marlon Brando. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of the boyfriend of his half-sister Cheyenne. On May 16, 1990, Christian Brando had shot Dag Drollet to death at Marlon Brando's residence on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles. He was...

, in addition to Prudence Brando, and Shane Brando, children of Miko C. Brando.

Lifestyle


Brando earned a "bad boy" reputation for his public outbursts and antics. His behavior during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) seemed to bolster his reputation as a difficult star. He was blamed for a change in director and a runaway budget, though he disclaimed responsibility for either. On June 12, 1973, Brando broke paparazzo
Paparazzi
Paparazzi is an Italian term used to refer to photojournalists who specialize in candid photography of celebrities, politicians, and other prominent people...

 Ron Galella
Ron Galella
Ron Galella is an American photographer, known as a pioneer paparazzo. Dubbed "Paparazzo Extraordinaire" by Newsweek and "the Godfather of the U.S...

's jaw. Galella had followed Brando, who was accompanied by talk show host Dick Cavett
Dick Cavett
Richard Alva "Dick" Cavett is a former American television talk show host known for his conversational style and in-depth discussion of issues...

, after a taping of The Dick Cavett Show
The Dick Cavett Show
The Dick Cavett Show has been the title of several talk shows hosted by Dick Cavett on various television networks, including:* ABC daytime ...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

. He reportedly paid a $40,000 out-of-court settlement and suffered an infected hand as a result. Galella wore a football helmet the next time he photographed Brando at a gala benefiting the American Indians Development Association.

The filming of Mutiny on the Bounty affected Brando's life in a profound way, as he fell in love with Tahiti and its people. He bought a twelve-island atoll, Tetiaroa
Tetiaroa
Tetiaroa is a private atoll in the Windward group of the Society Islands of French Polynesia, an overseas collectivity of France in the Pacific Ocean. Once the vacation spot for Tahitian royalty, the atoll is widely known for having been purchased by Marlon Brando...

, which he intended to make partly an environmental laboratory and partly a resort. Brando eventually had a now-closed hotel built on Tetiaroa, which went through many redesigns as a result of changes demanded by Brando over the years. His son Simon is the only inhabitant of Tetiaroa. Brando was an active ham radio
Amateur radio
Amateur radio is the use of designated radio frequency spectrum for purposes of private recreation, non-commercial exchange of messages, wireless experimentation, self-training, and emergency communication...

 operator, with the call sign
Call sign
In broadcasting and radio communications, a call sign is a unique designation for a transmitting station. In North America they are used as names for broadcasting stations...

s KE6PZH and FO5GJ (the latter from his island). He was listed in the Federal Communications Commission
Federal Communications Commission
The Federal Communications Commission is an independent agency of the United States government, created, Congressional statute , and with the majority of its commissioners appointed by the current President. The FCC works towards six goals in the areas of broadband, competition, the spectrum, the...

 (FCC) records as Martin Brandeaux to preserve his privacy.

In an interview with Gary Carey, for his 1976 biography The Only Contender, Brando said, "Homosexuality is so much in fashion it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me. But if there is someone who is convinced that Jack Nicholson
Jack Nicholson
John Joseph "Jack" Nicholson is an American actor, film director, producer and writer. He is renowned for his often dark portrayals of neurotic characters. Nicholson has been nominated for an Academy Award twelve times, and has won the Academy Award for Best Actor twice: for One Flew Over the...

 and I are lovers, may they continue to do so. I find it amusing."

Final years and death


Brando's notoriety, his troubled family life, and his obesity
Obesity
Obesity is a medical condition in which excess body fat has accumulated to the extent that it may have an adverse effect on health, leading to reduced life expectancy and/or increased health problems...

 attracted more attention than his late acting career. He gained a great deal of weight in the 1980s and by the mid 1990s he weighed over 300 lbs. (136 kg) and suffered from diabetes. Like Orson Welles
Orson Welles
George Orson Welles , best known as Orson Welles, was an American film director, actor, theatre director, screenwriter, and producer, who worked extensively in film, theatre, television and radio...

 or Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

, he had a history of weight fluctuations through his career, 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.
Brando also dabbled with some innovation in his last years. Brando had several patents issued in his name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, all of which involve a method of tensioning drum heads, in June 2002 – November 2004. For example, see and its equivalents.

The actor was a longtime close friend of entertainer Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson
Michael Joseph Jackson was an American recording artist, entertainer, and businessman. Referred to as the King of Pop, or by his initials MJ, Jackson is recognized as the most successful entertainer of all time by Guinness World Records...

 and paid regular visits to his Neverland Ranch
Neverland Ranch
Neverland Valley Ranch is a developed property in Santa Barbara County, California, most famous for being a home of American entertainer Michael Jackson from 1988 to 2005. Jackson named the property after Neverland, the fantasy island in the story of Peter Pan, a boy who never grows up...

, resting there for weeks at a time. Brando also participated in the singer's two-day solo career thirtieth-anniversary celebration concerts in 2001, and starred in his 13-minute-long music video, "You Rock My World
You Rock My World
"You Rock My World" is a song by American recording artist Michael Jackson from his tenth, and final, studio album Invincible . The song was released as the lead single from the album in August 2001 by Epic Records. The lyrics pertain to being in love and trying to gain a woman's affection...

," in the same year. The actor's son, Miko, was Jackson's bodyguard and assistant for several years, and was a friend of the singer. He stated "The last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time... was with Michael Jackson. He loved it... He had a 24-hour chef, 24-hour security, 24-hour help, 24-hour kitchen, 24-hour maid service." On Jackson's 30th anniversary concert, Brando gave a speech to the audience on humanitarian work which received a poor reaction from the audience and was unaired.

On July 1, 2004, Brando died, aged 80. He left behind eleven children as well as over thirty grandchildren. The cause of death was intentionally withheld, his lawyer citing privacy concerns. It was later revealed that he had died at UCLA Medical Center of respiratory failure
Respiratory failure
The term respiratory failure, in medicine, is used to describe inadequate gas exchange by the respiratory system, with the result that arterial oxygen and/or carbon dioxide levels cannot be maintained within their normal ranges. A drop in blood oxygenation is known as hypoxemia; a rise in arterial...

 brought on by pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis
Pulmonary fibrosis is the formation or development of excess fibrous connective tissue in the lungs. It is also described as "scarring of the lung".-Symptoms:Symptoms of pulmonary fibrosis are mainly:...

. He also suffered from congestive heart failure
Congestive heart failure
Heart failure often called congestive heart failure is generally defined as the inability of the heart to supply sufficient blood flow to meet the needs of the body. Heart failure can cause a number of symptoms including shortness of breath, leg swelling, and exercise intolerance. The condition...

, failing eyesight caused by diabetes, and liver cancer
Liver cancer
Liver tumors or hepatic tumors are tumors or growths on or in the liver . Several distinct types of tumors can develop in the liver because the liver is made up of various cell types. These growths can be benign or malignant...

. Shortly before his death and despite needing an oxygen mask to breathe, he recorded his voice to appear in The Godfather: The Game
The Godfather: The Game
The Godfather: The Game is an action-adventure video game developed and published by Electronic Arts. It is the second video game in the Godfather series and based upon the 1972 film of the same name. Originally released in March 2006 for the PlayStation 2, Xbox and Microsoft Windows, The Godfather...

, once again as Don Vito Corleone. However, due to his health problems his voice was too weak to be used in the game.

Karl Malden
Karl Malden
Karl Malden was an American actor. In a career that spanned more than seven decades, he performed in such classic films as A Streetcar Named Desire, for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, On the Waterfront and One-Eyed Jacks...

, Brando's fellow actor in A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront
On the Waterfront
On the Waterfront is a 1954 American drama film about union violence and corruption among longshoremen. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger, Eva Marie Saint, Lee J. Cobb and Karl Malden. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard...

, and One-Eyed Jacks
One-Eyed Jacks
One-Eyed Jacks, a 1961 Western, is the only film directed by actor Marlon Brando, who also played its lead character, Rio.The film was originally to be directed by Stanley Kubrick and Sam Peckinpah...

 (the only film directed by Brando), talks in a documentary accompanying the DVD of A Streetcar Named Desire about a phone call he received from Brando shortly before Brando's death. A distressed Brando told Malden he kept falling over. Malden wanted to come over, but Brando put him off telling him there was no point. Three weeks later, Brando was dead. Shortly before his death, Brando had apparently refused permission for tubes carrying oxygen to be inserted into his lungs, which, he was told, was the only way to prolong his life.

Brando was cremated
Cremation
Cremation is the process of reducing bodies to basic chemical compounds such as gasses and bone fragments. This is accomplished through high-temperature burning, vaporization and oxidation....

, and his ashes were put in with those of his childhood friend Wally Cox
Wally Cox
Wallace Maynard Cox was an American comedian and actor, particularly associated with the early years of television in the United States. He appeared in the U.S. TV series Mr. Peepers , plus several other popular shows, and as a character actor in over 20 films...

 and another friend. They were then scattered partly in Tahiti
Tahiti
Tahiti is the largest island in the Windward group of French Polynesia, located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. It is the economic, cultural and political centre of French Polynesia. The island was formed from volcanic activity and is high and mountainous...

 and partly in Death Valley
Death Valley
Death Valley is a desert valley located in Eastern California. Situated within the Mojave Desert, it features the lowest, driest, and hottest locations in North America. Badwater, a basin located in Death Valley, is the specific location of the lowest elevation in North America at 282 feet below...

.

In 2007, a 165-minute biopic of Brando, Brando: The Documentary, produced by Mike Medavoy
Mike Medavoy
Morris Mike Medavoy is an American film producer and executive, co-founder of Orion Pictures , former chairman of TriStar Pictures, former head of production for United Artists and current chairman and CEO of Phoenix Pictures.-Early life and career:Medavoy was born in Shanghai, China in 1941 to...

 (the executor of Brando's will) for Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies
Turner Classic Movies is a movie-oriented cable television channel, owned by the Turner Broadcasting System subsidiary of Time Warner, featuring commercial-free classic movies, mostly from the Turner Entertainment and MGM, United Artists, RKO and Warner Bros. film libraries...

, was released.

Civil rights



In 1946, Brando showed his dedication to the Jewish desire for a homeland by performing in Ben Hecht
Ben Hecht
Ben Hecht was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Called "the Shakespeare of Hollywood", he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some 70 films and as a prolific storyteller, authored 35 books and created some of...

's Zionist play "A Flag is Born
A Flag is Born
A Flag Is Born was a play promoting the creation of a Jewish State in the ancient land of Israel. It opened on Broadway on September 4, 1946. The cast included Paul Muni, Celia Adler and Marlon Brando. Hollywood’s most successful screenwriter, Ben Hecht, was the playwright; it was directed by...

." Brando's involvement had an impact on three of the most contentious issues of the early postwar period: the fight to establish a Jewish state, the smuggling of Holocaust survivors to Israel, and the battle against racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States
Racial segregation in the United States, as a general term, included the racial segregation or hypersegregation of facilities, services, and opportunities such as housing, medical care, education, employment, and transportation along racial lines...

.

Brando attended some fundraisers for John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 in the 1960 presidential election.

In August 1963, Brando participated in the March on Washington along with fellow celebrities Harry Belafonte
Harry Belafonte
Harold George "Harry" Belafonte, Jr. is an American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist. He was dubbed the "King of Calypso" for popularizing the Caribbean musical style with an international audience in the 1950s...

, James Garner
James Garner
James Garner is an American film and television actor, one of the first Hollywood actors to excel in both media. He has starred in several television series spanning a career of more than five decades...

, Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston was an American actor of film, theatre and television. Heston is known for heroic roles in films such as The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor, El Cid, and Planet of the Apes...

, Burt Lancaster
Burt Lancaster
Burton Stephen "Burt" Lancaster was an American film actor noted for his athletic physique and distinctive smile...

, and Sidney Poitier
Sidney Poitier
Sir Sidney Poitier, KBE is a Bahamian American actor, film director, author, and diplomat.In 1963, Poitier became the first black person to win an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Lilies of the Field...

. Brando also, along with Paul Newman
Paul Newman
Paul Leonard Newman was an American actor, film director, entrepreneur, humanitarian, professional racing driver and auto racing enthusiast...

, participated in the freedom rides.

In the aftermath of the 1968 slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Brando made one of the strongest commitments to furthering Dr. King's work. Shortly after Dr. King's death, Brando announced that he was bowing out of the lead role of a major film (The Arrangement) 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 Joey Bishop Show
The Joey Bishop Show (talk show)
The Joey Bishop Show is an American talk show which was first broadcast on ABC on April 17, 1967, hosted by Joey Bishop and featuring Regis Philbin in his first concentrated national television exposure, as Bishop's sidekick/announcer...

.

The actor's participation in the African-American civil rights movement actually began well before King's death. In the early 1960s Brando 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. By this time, Brando was already involved in films that carried messages about human rights: Sayonara, which addressed interracial romance, and The Ugly American
The Ugly American
The Ugly American is the title of a 1958 political novel by Eugene Burdick and William Lederer. The novel became a bestseller, was influential at the time, and is still in print...

, depicting the conduct of US officials abroad and its deleterious effect on the citizens of foreign countries. For a time Brando was also donating money to the Black Panther Party
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

 and considered himself a friend of founder Bobby Seale
Bobby Seale
Robert George "Bobby" Seale , is an activist. He is known for co-founding the Black Panther Party with Huey Newton.-Early life:...

. However, 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
Eldridge Cleaver
Leroy Eldridge Cleaver better known as Eldridge Cleaver, was a leading member of the Black Panther Party and a writer...

 advocating indiscriminate violence, "for the Revolution."

At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, Brando refused to accept the Oscar for his performance in The Godfather. Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather is a Native American activist who donned Apache dress and presented a speech on behalf of actor Marlon Brando, for his performance in The Godfather, when he boycotted the 45th Academy Awards ceremony on March 27, 1973, in protest of the treatment of Native Americans by the...

 represented Mr. Brando at the ceremony. She appeared in full Apache clothing. She stated that owing to the "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry" Mr. Brando would not accept the award. At this time the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee
Wounded Knee Incident
The Wounded Knee incident began February 27, 1973 when about 200 Oglala Lakota and followers of the American Indian Movement seized and occupied the town of Wounded Knee, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation...

 occurred, causing rising tensions between the government and Native American activists. 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 not only appeared before the California Assembly in support of a fair housing law, but personally joined picket lines in demonstrations protesting discrimination in housing developments.

Comments on Jews, Hollywood, and Israel


In an interview in Playboy
Playboy
Playboy is an American men's magazine that features photographs of nude women as well as journalism and fiction. It was founded in Chicago in 1953 by Hugh Hefner and his associates, and funded in part by a $1,000 loan from Hefner's mother. The magazine has grown into Playboy Enterprises, Inc., with...

 magazine in January 1979, Brando said: "You've seen every single race besmirched, but you never saw an image of the kike
Kike
Kike is a derogatory slur used to refer to a Jew.-Etymology:The source of the term is uncertain. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may be an alteration of the endings –ki or –ky common in the personal names of Jews in eastern Europe who immigrated to the United States in the early...

 because the Jews were ever so watchful for that—and rightly so. They never allowed it to be shown on screen. The Jews have done so much for the world that, I suppose, you get extra disappointed because they didn't pay attention to that."

Brando made a similar comment on Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

 in April 1996, saying "Hollywood
Cinema of the United States
The cinema of the United States, also known as Hollywood, has had a profound effect on cinema across the world since the early 20th century. Its history is sometimes separated into four main periods: the silent film era, classical Hollywood cinema, New Hollywood, and the contemporary period...

 is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of—of people who are suffering. Because they've exploited—we have seen the—we have seen the Nigger
Nigger
Nigger is a noun in the English language, most notable for its usage in a pejorative context to refer to black people , and also as an informal slang term, among other contexts. It is a common ethnic slur...

 and Greaseball, we've seen the Chink
Chink
Chink, chinki, chinky or chinkie is a pejorative term referring mainly to a person of Chinese ethnicity but sometimes generalized to refer to any person of East Asian descent...

, we've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap
Jap
Jap is an English abbreviation of the word "Japanese." Today it is generally regarded as an ethnic slur, although English-speaking countries differ in the degree to which they consider the term offensive. In the United States, Japanese Americans have come to find the term controversial or...

, we have seen the wily Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

, we've seen everything but we never saw the Kike
Kike
Kike is a derogatory slur used to refer to a Jew.-Etymology:The source of the term is uncertain. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it may be an alteration of the endings –ki or –ky common in the personal names of Jews in eastern Europe who immigrated to the United States in the early...

. Because they knew perfectly well, that that is where you draw the wagons around." King, who is Jewish, replied, "When you say—when you say something like that you are playing right in, though, to anti-Semitic people who say the Jews are—" at which point Brando interrupted. "No, no, because I will be the first one who will appraise the Jews honestly and say 'Thank God for the Jews.'"

Jay Kanter, Brando's agent, producer and friend defended him in Daily Variety: "Marlon has spoken to me for hours about his fondness for the Jewish people, and he is a well-known supporter of Israel." Similarly, Louie Kemp, in his article for Jewish Journal, wrote: "You might remember him as Don Vito Corleone, Stanley Kowalski or the eerie Col. Walter E. Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now," but I remember Marlon Brando as a mensch and a personal friend of the Jewish people when they needed it most." Brando was also a major donor to the Irgun
Irgun
The Irgun , or Irgun Zevai Leumi to give it its full title , was a Zionist paramilitary group that operated in Mandate Palestine between 1931 and 1948. It was an offshoot of the earlier and larger Jewish paramilitary organization haHaganah...

, a Zionist political-paramilitary group.

In an interview with NBC Today one day after Brando's death, Larry King
Larry King
Lawrence Harvey "Larry" King is an American television and radio host whose work has been recognized with awards including two Peabodys and ten Cable ACE Awards....

 also defended Brando's comments, saying that they were out of proportion and taken out of context.

Legacy



Honors and tributes


Brando is widely considered as one of the greatest and most influential actors of the 20th century. Largely credited for popularizing the "method" acting
Method acting
Method acting is a phrase that loosely refers to a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances...

 style, he has earned great respect among critics and theatre experts for his memorable performances and charismatic screen presence. In the book Movies in American History: An Encyclopedia, James Delmont wrote: "Marlon Brando was arguably the finest screen actor of the twentieth century, winning worldwide acceptance as both a movie star of the first rank and as a performer of uncommon skill." Film scholar Richard Schickel
Richard Schickel
Richard Warren Schickel is an American author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker. He is a film critic for Time magazine, having also written for Life magazine and the Los Angeles Times Book Review....

, while examining his charismatic screen presence and acting ability, argued: "As a movie actor he [Brando] has no peer in this generation. That he consistently underplays, yet still packs more emotion into a scene than anyone else, is a sign of a charisma that may be an act of God." Similarly, Roger Ebert
Roger Ebert
Roger Joseph Ebert is an American film critic and screenwriter. He is the first film critic to win a Pulitzer Prize for Criticism.Ebert is known for his film review column and for the television programs Sneak Previews, At the Movies with Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, and Siskel and Ebert and The...

, writing of his iconic performance in Last Tango in Paris, said: "This was the greatest movie actor of his time, the author of performances that do honor to the cinema."

Tennessee Williams
Tennessee Williams
Thomas Lanier "Tennessee" Williams III was an American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs...

, among the many who acknowledged his finesse, described Brando as "the greatest living actor ever... greater than [Laurence] Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

." Laurence Olivier himself said: "Brando acted with an empathy and an instinctual understanding that not even the greatest technical performers could possibly match." Johnny Depp
Johnny Depp
John Christopher "Johnny" Depp II is an American actor, producer and musician. He has won the Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild award for Best Actor. Depp rose to prominence on the 1980s television series 21 Jump Street, becoming a teen idol...

 credits Brando with changing the way actors work, stating that "Marlon reinvented acting, he revolutionized acting." In a 2007 Best Life
Best Life
Best Life, published by Rodale Inc. in Emmaus, Pennsylvania, United States, was the first luxury service magazine for men, and the fastest-growing men's magazine in America, with a circulation of more than 500,000.-History:...

 article, praising his performance in On the Waterfront, Rob Reiner
Rob Reiner
Robert "Rob" Reiner is an American actor, director, producer, writer, and political activist.As an actor, Reiner first came to national prominence as Archie and Edith Bunker's son-in-law, Michael "Meathead" Stivic, on All in the Family. That role earned him two Emmy Awards during the 1970s...

 wrote: "Marlon Brando gives the single greatest performance ever. It's just so natural, powerful, real, and honest."

Cultural impact


Marlon Brando is a cultural icon whose popularity has endured for over six decades. Brando's rise to national attention in the 1950s had a profound effect on the motion picture industry and influenced the broader scope of American culture. According to film critic Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael
Pauline Kael was an American film critic who wrote for The New Yorker magazine from 1968 to 1991. Earlier in her career, her work appeared in City Lights, McCall's and The New Republic....

, "[Marlon] Brando represented a reaction against the post-war mania for security. As a protagonist, the Brando of the early fifties had no code, only his instincts. He was a development from the gangster leader and the outlaw. He was antisocial because he knew society was crap; he was a hero to youth because he was strong enough not to take the crap ... Brando represented a contemporary version of the free American ... Brando is still the most exciting American actor on the screen." Sociologist Dr. Suzanne Mcdonald-Walker states: "Marlon Brando, sporting leather jacket, jeans, and moody glare, became a cultural icon summing up 'the road' in all its maverick glory." His portrayal of the gang leader Johnny Strabler in The Wild One has become an iconic 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
James Dean
James Byron Dean was an American film actor. He is a cultural icon, best embodied in the title of his most celebrated film, Rebel Without a Cause , in which he starred as troubled Los Angeles teenager Jim Stark...

 and Elvis Presley
Elvis Presley
Elvis Aaron Presley was one of the most popular American singers of the 20th century. A cultural icon, he is widely known by the single name Elvis. He is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King"....

, 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 contenda" 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."

Marlon Brando was also considered a sex symbol
Sex symbol
A sex symbol is a celebrity of either gender, typically an actor, musician, supermodel, teen idol, or sports star, noted for their sex appeal. The term was first used in the mid 1950s in relation to the popularity of certain Hollywood stars, especially Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte...

, one of the earliest in the film industry to achieve widespread attention due to his enigmatic and sexy persona and the reports of his dalliances and relationships with various major Hollywood celebrities. Film scholar Linda Williams writes: "Marlon Brando [was] the quintessential American male sex symbol of the late fifties and early sixties".

He was one of the first actor-activists to march for civil and Native American rights.

Financial legacy


Upon his death in 2004, Marlon Brando left an estate valued at $21.6 million. Brando's estate still earns about $9,000,000 per year, according to Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

. He was named one of the top-earning dead celebrities in the world by the magazine.

Honors, awards and nominations


Brando was named the fourth greatest male star
AFI's 100 Years... 100 Stars
Part of the AFI 100 Years... series, AFI's 100 Years...100 Stars is a list of the top 50 greatest screen legends of American cinema, 25 male and 25 female...

 in the history of American cinema by the American Film Institute
American Film Institute
The American Film Institute is an independent non-profit organization created by the National Endowment for the Arts, which was established in 1967 when President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act...

, and part of Time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

 magazine's Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century
Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century is a compilation of the 20th century's 100 most influential people, published in Time magazine in 1999....

. He was also named one of the top 10 "Icons of the Century" by Variety
Variety (magazine)
Variety is an American weekly entertainment-trade magazine founded in New York City, New York, in 1905 by Sime Silverman. With the rise of the importance of the motion-picture industry, Daily Variety, a daily edition based in Los Angeles, California, was founded by Silverman in 1933. In 1998, the...

 magazine.

External links



  • The Oddfather, Rolling Stone
    Rolling Stone
    Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

    , Jod Kaftan, April 25, 2002
  • Vanity Fair: The King Who Would Be Man by Budd Schulberg
    Budd Schulberg
    Budd Schulberg was an American screenwriter, television producer, novelist and sports writer. He was known for his 1941 novel, What Makes Sammy Run?, his 1947 novel The Harder They Fall, his 1954 Academy-award-winning screenplay for On the Waterfront, and his 1957 screenplay for A Face in the...

  • The New Yorker: The Duke in His DomainTruman Capote
    Truman Capote
    Truman Streckfus Persons , known as Truman Capote , was an American author, many of whose short stories, novels, plays, and nonfiction are recognized literary classics, including the novella Breakfast at Tiffany's and the true crime novel In Cold Blood , which he labeled a "nonfiction novel." At...

    's influential 1957 interview.

Obituaries