Ranked #13 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list (Oct. 1997).
Eldest son Christian Brando was arrested for murdering his half-sister's boyfriend Dag Drollet in 1990. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in March 1991 and released in January 1996.
Worked as a department store elevator operator before he became famous. He quit after four days due to his embarrassment in having to call out the lingerie floor.
Was roommates with childhood friend Wally Cox during his theatrical training in New York City. The two remained lifelong friends, and Brando took Cox's sudden death from a heart attack at the age of 48 extremely hard.
Chosen by Empire magazine in 1995 as one of the "100 Sexiest Stars" in film history (#14).
Youngest of three children.
Owned a private island off the Pacific coast, the Polynesian atoll known as Tetiaroa, from 1966 until his death in 2004.
Native of Omaha, Nebraska. His mother once gave stage lessons to Henry Fonda, another Nebraska native.
Son of Marlon Brando Sr. and Dorothy Pennebaker Brando.
Born to alcoholic parents, Brando was left alone much of the time as a child.
Daughter Cheyenne committed suicide in 1995, aged 25.
In April 2002, a woman filed a $100-million palimony lawsuit in California against Brando, claiming he fathered her three children during a 14-year romantic relationship. Maria Cristina Ruiz, 43, filed the breach-of-contract suit, demanding damages and living expenses. The lawsuit was settled in April 2003.
Ranked #12 in Entertainment Weekly's "Top 100 Entertainers" of all time (2000).
He used cue cards in many of his movies because he refused to memorize his lines. His lines were written on the diaper of the baby, "Kal-El", in Superman (1978).
One of the innovators of the Method acting technique in American film.
Was mentioned in La Dolce Vita (1960) in a discussion about salary paid to film stars.
Said that the only reason he continued to make movies was in order to raise the money to produce what he said would be the "definitive" film about Native Americans. The film was never made.
Expelled from high school for riding a motorcycle through the halls.
His signature was considered so valuable to collectors, that many personal checks he wrote were never cashed because his signature was usually worth more than the amount on the check.
Studied at the Dramatic Workshop at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Brando's first wife was Anna Kashfi, who bore him a son whom they named Christian. His second wife was Movita Castenada, who played the Tahitian love interest of Lt. Byam in Mutiny on the Bounty (1935). His third wife was Tarita Teriipia, who played the Tahitian love interest of Lt. Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).
He had English, as well as smaller amounts (to varying degrees) of Irish, German, Dutch, French, Welsh, and Scottish, ancestry. He is descended from Johann Wilhelm Brandau, b. 1670, who was a German immigrant. The surname was eventually changed to "Brando". One of Marlon's maternal great-grandfathers, Myles Joseph Gahan, emigrated to the United States from Ireland.
Helped out a lot of minorities in America, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native American Indians.
He reputedly suggested that his cameo role as Jor-El in Superman (1978) be done by him in voiceover only, with the character's image onscreen being a glowing, levitating green bagel. Unsure if Brando was joking or not, the film's producers formally rejected the suggestion.
Russell Crowe wrote and sang a song about him called "I Wanna Be Marlon Brando."
He was offered a chance to reprise his role as Vito Corleone in The Godfather: Part II (1974) and Jor El in Superman II (1980), but he turned them both down due to his own credo that once he finished a role, he put it away and moved on. He turned down both films despite being offered three times more money than any of his co-stars.
Mentioned in Madonna's song "Vogue."
Film critic Roger Ebert praised Brando as "the Greatest Actor in the World."
Empire Magazine profiled him as part of their "Greatest Living Actors" series. The issue containing this feature was published a week before he died.
He was voted the 7th "Greatest Movie Star" of all time by Entertainment Weekly.
Mentioned in Slipknot's song "Eyeless."
During an acting class, when the students were told to act out "a chicken hearing an air-raid siren," most of the students clucked and flapped their arms in a panic, while Brando stood stock-still, staring up at the ceiling. When asked to explain himself, Brando replied, "I'm a chicken - I don't know what an air-raid siren is."
Received top billing in nearly every film he appeared in, even if not cast in the lead role.
In his book "The Way It's Never Been Done Before: My Friendship with Marlon Brando," George Englund relates how Brando told him a couple of years before his death that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences offered him a Lifetime Achievement Oscar on the condition that he attend the ceremony to personally accept the award. Brando refused, believing that the offer shouldn't be conditional, and that the condition that he appear on the televised ceremony showed that the Academy was not primarily focused on honoring artistic excellence.
He attended a staging of Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical "Long Day's Journey Into Night" with an eye towards starring in a proposed film of the play. The play deals with the drug addiction of Mary Tyrone, modeled after O'Neil's own mother, which, along with her husband's miserliness and her oldest son's alcoholism, has blighted her youngest son's life. When asked his opinion of the play, Brando, whose mother was an alcoholic and had died relatively young in 1954, replied, "Lousy." Jason Robards, who originated the role of older son James Tyrone, Jr. in the original Broadway production in 1956, subsequently appeared in Sidney Lumet's 1962 movie.
He was reportedly once interested in playing Pablo Picasso on film and was trying to reduce weight on a banana diet. The film was never made.
Paramount studio brass wanted him to appear as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (1974), but he wanted $4 million, an unheard-of salary at the time.
Director Francis Ford Coppola wanted Brando to appear as Preston Tucker Jr. in his biopic of the maverick automotive executive he planned to make after he completed The Godfather: Part II (1974). Brando was not interested but did appear in Apocalypse Now (1979), the film Coppola actually did make after finishing The Godfather (1972) sequel. When Coppola finally got around to making the film Tucker: The Man and His Dream (1988), he cast Jeff Bridges in the role.
According to co-producer Fred Roos, Brando was scheduled to make a cameo appearance in The Godfather: Part II (1974), specifically in the flashback at the end of the film in which Vito Corleone comes back to his home and is greeted with a surprise birthday party. In fact, he was expected the day of shooting but did not show up due to a salary dispute. According to Francis Ford Coppola, he hadn't been paid for The Godfather (1972) and thus would not appear in the sequel.
Was a fan of Afro-Caribbean music, and changed from being a strict drummer to the congas after becoming enthralled by the music in New York City in the 1940s.
Took possession of friend Wally Cox's ashes from his widow in order to scatter them at sea but actually kept them hidden in a closet at his house. In his autobiography, Brando said he frequently talked to Cox. The Los Angeles Times on September 22, 2004 quoted Brando's son, Miko, to the effect that both his father's and Cox's ashes were scattered at the same time in Death Valley, California in a ceremony following Brando's death.
Was scheduled to appear in the David Lean-directed "Nostromo" in 1991, but when Lean died, the production came to a halt. Thus, the world missed the last of three chances to see one of the world's greatest actors work with one of the world's greatest directors. Producer Sam Spiegel, who had won an Oscar for On the Waterfront (1954), offered Brando the title role in Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962), but he turned it down, saying he didn't want to ride camels in the desert for two years. Brando was Lean's first choice for the male lead in Ryan's Daughter (1970), but Brando, who at that time was considered box office poison by movie studios, never was offered the role.
Brando tried to join the Army during World War II but was rejected due to a knee injury he had sustained while playing football at Shattuck Military Academy. After he made The Men (1950), the Korean War broke out, and he was ordered by the draft board to report for a physical prior to induction. As his knee was better due to an operation, he initially was reclassified from 4-F to 1-A, but the military again rejected him, this time for mental problems, as he was under psychoanalysis.
The story about his mother his character Paul tells Jeanne in Last Tango in Paris (1972), about how she taught him to appreciate nature, which he illustrates with his reminiscence of his dog Dutchy hunting rabbits in a mustard field, is real, based on his own recollections of his past.
His best friend was Wally Cox, whom he had known as a child and then met again when both were aspiring actors in New York during the 1940s. According to Brando's autobiography, there wasn't a day that went by when he didn't think of Wally. So close did he feel to Cox, he even kept the pajamas he died in.
Studied modern dance with Katherine Dunham in New York in the early 1940s and briefly considered becoming a dancer.
Shortly before his death in 2004, he gave EA Games permission to use his voice for its video game The Godfather (2006).
After a decade of being considered "box-office poison" after the large losses generated by the big-budget remake of Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), the twin successes of The Godfather (1972) and Last Tango in Paris (1972) made Brando a superstar again. He was named the #6 and #10 top money-making star in 1972 and 1973, respectively, by the Motion Picture Herald. The top 10 box-office list was based on an annual poll of movie exhibitors in the US as to the drawing power of stars, conducted by Quigley Publications. Brando used his unique combination of box-office power and his reputation as the greatest actor in the world to command huge salaries throughout the decade, culminating in the record $3.7 million for 12 days work paid him for Superman (1978) by Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind. Factored for inflation, his adjusted salary of $11.25 million in 2002 terms equals almost $1 million a day, a record that stood until Harrison Ford breached it for K-19: The Widowmaker (2002).
Even before he let himself get obese and balloon up to over 350 lb., his eating habits were legendary. The Men (1950) co-star Richard Erdman claimed Brando's diet circa 1950 consisted "mainly of junk food, usually take-out Chinese or peanut butter, which he consumed by the jarful." By the mid-'50s he was renowned for eating boxes of Mallomars and cinnamon buns, washing them down with a quart of milk. Close friend Carlo Fiore wrote that in the '50s and early '60s Brando went on crash diets before his films commenced shooting, but when he lost his willpower he would eat huge breakfasts consisting of corn flakes, sausages, eggs, bananas and cream, and a huge stack of pancakes drenched in syrup. Fiore was detailed by producers to drag him out of coffee shops. Karl Malden claimed that, during the shooting of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Brando would have "two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode and a quart of milk" for dinner, necessitating constant altering of his costumes. During a birthday party for Brando--the film's director as well as star--the crew gave him a belt with a card reading, "Hope it fits." A sign was placed below the birthday cake saying, "Don't feed the director." He reportedly ate at least four pieces of cake that day. His second wife Movita, who had a lock put on their refrigerator to stop pilfering by what she thought was the household staff, awoke one morning to find the lock broken and teeth marks on a round of cheese. The maid told her that Brando nightly raided the fridge. Movita also related how he often drove down to hot dog stands late at night (one of his favorite spots was the legendary Pink's Hot Dogs in Hollywood; it was open 24 hours a day, and Brando would go there at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and polish off a half-dozen hot dogs at a time). Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) costumer James Taylor claimed that Brando split the seat on 52 pairs of pants during the shooting of the film, necessitating that stretch fabric be sewn into his replacement duds. He split those, too. Ice cream was the culprit: Brando would purloin a five-gallon tub of the fattening dessert, row himself out into the lagoon and indulge. On the set of The Appaloosa (1966), Brando's double often had to be used for shooting after lunch, and filming could only proceed in long shots, as Brando could no longer fit into his costumes. Dick Loving, who was married to Brando's sister Frannie, said that Brando used to eat "two chickens at a sitting, and [go] through bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies." It was reported during the filming of The Missouri Breaks (1976) that the environmentally sensitive Brando fished a frog out of a pond, took a huge bite out of the hapless amphibian, and threw it back into the drink. Living on his island of Tetioroa, Brando created what he called "real-life Mounds Bars" by cracking open a coconut, melting some chocolate in the sun, then stirring it into the coconut for a tasty treat. By the 1980s there were reports that one of his girlfriends had left him because he failed to keep his promise of losing weight. He seemed to be dieting, but to her astonishment, he never lost weight. She found out that his buddies had been throwing bags of Burger King Whoppers over the gates of his Mulholland Dr. estate late at night to relieve the hunger pangs of their famished friend. In the late '80s Brando was spotted regularly buying ice cream from a Beverly Hills ice cream shop--five gallons at a time. He supposedly confessed that he was eating it all himself. Finally, a reported Brando snack was a pound of cooked bacon shoved into an entire loaf of bread. When Brando became ill, he seriously cut back and lost 70 pounds on a bland diet, but never lost his love of food and especially ice cream.
Won his seventh, and last, Best Actor Oscar nomination in 1974, for Last Tango in Paris (1972), after he had generated much ill-will in Hollywood by refusing his Oscar for The Godfather (1972). Academy President Walter Mirisch said of the nomination, "I think it speaks well for the Academy. It proves that voting members are interested only in performances, not in sidelights." Interestingly, the only other actor to refuse an Academy Award, George C. Scott, also was nominated as Best Actor the year following his snubbing of the Academy. So far, Brando, Scott and screenwriter Dudley Nichols, who refused to accept his 1935 Oscar for the movie The Informer (1935) due to a Writers Guild strike, are the only people out of more than 2,000 winners to turn down the Award.
In his September 1972 Playboy Magazine interview, director Sam Peckinpah said that a problem with One-Eyed Jacks (1961) is that Brando would not play a villain. Peckinpah had worked on rewriting the script, which was based on the novel "The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones," a re-telling of the Billy the Kid legend. Billy the Kid, according to Peckinpah, was a genuine villain, whereas Brando's character "Rio" was not, thus lessening the dramatic impact of the story. He praised Brando for his acting comeback as Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), both as the return of a great actor and as an example of Brando's newfound willingness to shuck off his old predilection and actually play a villain.
At the 77th Academy Awards ceremony, he was the last person featured in the film honoring film industry personalities who had passed away the previous year.
At the 27th Academy Awards, held March 30, 1955, at the RKO Pantages Theatre in Hollywood, Brando chewed gum throughout the ceremony, according to columnist Sidney Skolsky. When Bette Davis came out to present the Best Actor Oscar, Brando stopped chewing. When she announced him as the winner, Brando took the gum out of his mouth and shook hands with fellow nominee Bing Crosby, who had been reckoned the favorite that night, before going on stage to accept the statuette.
Bette Davis, who had presented Brando with his first Best Actor Oscar at the 27th Academy Awards in 1955, told the press that she was thrilled he had won. She elaborated, "He and I had much in common. He, too, had made many enemies. He, too, is a perfectionist.".
When participating in the March on Washington, brandished a cattle prod to show the world the brutality blacks faced in the South.
Attended the memorial service for slain Black Panther 'Bobby Hutton' (I).
Tithed a tenth of his income to various black civil-rights organizations such as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
He and director Tony Kaye paid 350,000 pounds sterling for footage of what allegedly is the "Angel of Mons," according to The Sunday Times (March 11, 2001). The Angel of Mons was an apparition that legend holds appeared in the skies during the British Expeditionary Force's first encounter with the Imperial German army during WWI, which enabled a successful retreat by the BEF. The film allegedly was found in August 1999 in a junk-shop, which had a trunk belonging to a man called William Doidge, a WWI veteran. Doidge had been at Mons in August 1914 and knew about or possibly saw the apparition in the sky as the British army retreated before the overwhelming German advance. After the war he became obsessed by these apparitions. An American war veteran told him in 1952 that angels had appeared before some American troops were drowned during an exercise in 1944 at Woodchester Park in the Cotswolds. Doidge went there with a movie camera and supposedly captured images of them. Kaye planned to make a film of the incident, starring Brando as the American vet, but the plans fell through when the two fell out over an acting video.
The news agency Reuters, in an article about about Vanity Fair magazine's upcoming Hollywood issue, reported after his death that Brando repeatedly voiced objections to appearing in The Godfather (1972). According to Brando's friend Budd Schulberg, who won an Oscar writing the screenplay for On the Waterfront (1954), Brando repeatedly told his assistant Alice Marchak that he would not be in a film that glorified the Mafia. Schulberg said that Marchak pestered him to read the best-seller, and at one point he threw the book at her, saying, "For the last time, I won't glorify the Mafia!" However, Marchak noticed that Brando subsequently began toying with the idea of a mustache to play Don Corleone, at first drawing one on with an eyebrow pencil and asking her, "How do I look?" "Like George Raft," she replied. Marchak told Schulberg this went on for awhile, with Brando trying different mustaches, until he finally won the part after agreeing to a screen test. Among the actors he beat out for the role were Laurence Olivier, who was too sick to work on the film, and Burt Lancaster, who had offered to do a screen test for the role and was looked on favorably by Paramount brass.
He was voted the 15th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Premiere Magazine.
Was named #4 Actor on The 50 Greatest Screen Legends list by The American Film Institute.
Mentioned in the song "Risen Within" by MC Homicide featuring Paz.
He constantly referred to his good friend Johnny Depp as "the most talented actor of his generation".
His mother gave him an odd pet: a raccoon he named Russell.
He liked to box. While performing as Stanley Kowalski in the stage version of "A Streetcar Named Desire", he would often persuade a member of the stage crew to spar with him in a room underneath the stage between his acts. During one of these impromptu boxing matches, a crew member surprised him with a hard punch to the nose. Brando's nose was broken so badly that it literally was split across its bridge. He managed to go on stage and finish the play despite the fact that backstage efforts to stanch the bleeding had failed, but he was taken to the hospital immediately after. His famous broken-beak nose was the result of his having taken off his bandages in order to cover his nose with Mercurochrome to make it look particularly bad when he was visited by the play's producer, Irene Mayer Selznick. The subterfuge worked, as Selznick gave him two weeks off from the grind of the play (he was on stage with "Streetcar" for two years), but by taking the bandages off, his nose did not properly set.
Believed that he could control stress in his life and physical pain through meditation. So sure he was of this, that he wanted to prove it. When he decided in the early nineties to be circumcised, he wanted the doctor to do the operation with no anesthesia so that he could show off this skill. The doctor refused because of medical ethics, but Brando underwent the operation anyway after receiving a painkilling shot in his back. Nevertheless, he wanted to show the doctors what he could do, and he asked them to take his blood pressure. Through meditation, he brought his blood pressure down more than 20 points.
Elton John's song "Goodbye Marlon Brando" was inspired by the actor's retirement in 1980.
A collection of personal effects from Brando's estate fetched $2,378,300 at a June 30, 2005 auction at Christie's New York. His annotated script from The Godfather (1972) was bought for a world record $312,800. "Godfather" memorabilia were the most sought-after items at the 6.5-hour auction, which attracted over 500 spectators and bidders and multiple telephone bids. Brando's annotated film script originally was figured to sell at between $10,000 and $15,000, but brought more than 20 times the high end of the pre-auction estimate. The previous record for a film script bought at auction was $244,500 for Clark Gable's Gone with the Wind (1939) script, which was auctioned at Christie's New York in 1996. A letter from "Godfather" writer Mario Puzo to Brando asking him to consider playing the role of Don Corleone in the movie version of his novel was bought for $132,000. A photograph of Brando and former lover Rita Moreno in The Night of the Following Day (1968), the only piece of film memorabilia he kept in his Mulholland Dr.home, was bought for $48,000. A transcript of a telegram from Brando to Marilyn Monroe after her 1961 nervous breakdown was bought for $36,000. His extensive library of over 3,600 books was sold in lots, some of which fetched over $45,000; many of the books were annotated in Brando's own hand.
Shortly before his death, his doctors had told him that the only way to prolong his life would be to insert tubes carrying oxygen into his lungs. He refused permission, preferring to die naturally.
Was a licensed amateur (ham) radio operator with the call signs KE6PZH (his American license) and FO5GJ (is license for his home in French Polynesia). For both licenses, he used the name "Martin Brandeaux".
His decision to play the title role in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) turned out to be an offer that he definitely should have refused. He received the Worst Supporting Actor Razzie Award, beating Burt Reynolds, who was nominated for Striptease (1996), by a single vote. The vote was cast by Razzie award founder John Wilson, who always chooses to vote last.
At the time of his death at the age of eighty, Brando had been suffering from congestive heart failure, advanced diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis (damage to the tissue inside the lungs resulting from a bout of pneumonia in 2001). Doctors had recently discovered a tumor inside his liver, but he died before they could operate to remove it.
Rode his own Triumph 6T Thunderbird, registration #63632, in The Wild One (1953).
Contrary to popular belief, Brando was not an atheist. At his son's trial, where he supposedly revealed his atheism and refused to swear upon a Bible, his actual words were, "While I do believe in God, I do not believe in the same way as others, so I would prefer not to swear on the Bible".
Apocalypse Now (1979) was based on the novel "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad. Years after "Apocalypse Now" was released, a television film was made of Heart of Darkness (1993), which featured Ian McDiarmid in a small role. McDiarmid also appeared in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988), a remake of Bedtime Story (1964), a '60s comedy in which Brando appeared.
Both of his Oscar-winning roles have been referenced in the Oscar-winning roles of Robert De Niro. DeNiro played the younger version of his character, Vito Corleone, in The Godfather: Part II (1974). Brando's first Oscar was for On the Waterfront (1954), where his famous lines were "I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I could been somebody." DeNiro imitates this monologue in Raging Bull (1980), which won him his second Oscar.
When cast as Col. Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979), Brando had promised to lose weight for the role, as well as read Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness", on which Coppola's script was based. Coppola had envisioned Kurtz as a lean and hungry warrior; the character of Kurtz in the Conrad novellas was a wraith and weighed barely more than a child despite his great stature, due to his suffering from malaria. When the 52-year-old Brando -- who had already been paid part of his huge salary -- appeared on the set in the Philippines, he had lost none of the weight, so Coppola and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro were forced to put Brando's character in the shadows in most shots. In the penultimate appearance of Kurtz in the film, when he appears in silhouette in the doorway of his temple compound as the sacrificial bull is lead out, a very tall double (about 6'5") was used to try to give the character a greater physical stature, rather than just Buddha-like belly-fat that girded the 5'10" Brando. He didn't get around to reading the novella until many years later.
He did not like to sign autographs for collectors. Because of this, his own autograph became so valuable that many checks he wrote went uncashed--his signature on them was worth more than the value of the check itself. Ironically, his secretary Alice Marchak remembered a time when a fan asked for his autograph. Brando promptly signed the fan's autograph book twice. Brando then told the fan that he had heard that one John Wayne autograph was equal to two Marlon Brando's on the collector's market.
In his 1976 biography "The Only Contender" by Gary Carey, Brando was quoted as saying, "Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed."
It was his idea for Jor-El to wear the "S" insignia as the family crest in Superman (1978).
Is mentioned in Robbie Williams' song "Advertising Space".
His performance as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954) is ranked #2 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
His performance as Paul in Last Tango in Paris (1972) is ranked #27 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006).
Was the first male actor to break the $1-million threshold when MGM offered him that amount to star in Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), its remake of its own 1935 classic. Brando had turned down the lead role in David Lean's masterpiece Lawrence of Arabia (1962), which had been offered by producer Sam Spiegel, because he didn't like the lengthy shooting schedule. Ironically, "Bounty" itself wound up with an extensive shooting schedule due to a snail-pace schedule caused by a plethora of problems due to location shooting. With overages due to the extended shoot, Brando pocketed $1.25 million for the picture (approximately $8 million in 2005 dollars). Elizabeth Taylor had previously broken the million-dollar mark for a single picture with her renegotiated contract for Cleopatra (1963). Both films went vastly over schedule and wildly over budget and wound up hemorrhaging rivers of red ink despite relatively large grosses, though Taylor's flick outshone Brando's in the area of fiscal irresponsibility and wound up bankrupting its studio, 20th Century-Fox. Seventeen years later, after almost a decade of failure that caused him to be considered "box office poison" in the late 1960s/early 1970s (a string of flops that began with the failure of the "Bounty" remake), Brando became the highest paid actor in history with a $3.7-million up-front payment against a percentage of the gross for Superman (1978), a role that required his presence on the set for 12 days, plus an additional day for looping. Steve McQueen earlier had priced his services at $3 million a picture but had gotten no takers (many in Hollywood at the time believed he had deliberately set his price that high so he could take some time off). It was the price he quoted Francis Ford Coppola for his services for Apocalypse Now (1979), but Coppola refused to meet his demands and McQueen stayed off the screen for four years. Brando later appeared in the Coppola film in what is a supporting performance for a leading man/superstar salary of at least $2 million plus 8% of the gross over the negative cost. Brando made more money from his share of "Apocalypse Now" than from any other picture he appeared in; it financed his own retirement from the screen during the 1980s. After a decade off screen, so potent was the Brando name that he reportedly was paid over $2 million (donated to charity) for a supporting role in the anti-apartheid drama A Dry White Season (1989). Even toward the end of his life, when most of his contemporaries other than Paul Newman were no longer stars (Tony Curtis's asking price reportedly had dropped to $50,000 in the early 1990s) and could no longer command big money (Newman was the exception in that the financially secure superstar didn't ask for big money), Brando could still command a $3-million salary for a supporting role in The Score (2001).
The Chase (1966) producer Sam Spiegel was quite fond of Brando, who won his first Best Actor Oscar in the Spiegel-produced Best Picture winner On the Waterfront (1954). Spiegel was worried that motorcycle enthusiast Brando would kill himself like James Dean had, in an accident (Brando had had lacerated his knee while biking before filming began). Spiegel constantly queried "Chase" director Arthur Penn as to whether Brando had brought his motorcycle with him to the filming. When Brando got wind of this, he had the bike brought over to the set on a trailer and left on the lot to play a joke on Spiegel, who quickly arrived at the shooting to see that Brando didn't drive it. When Spiegel found out it was all a joke, the normally taciturn producer laughed heartily. Spiegel originally had acquired the property that became "The Chase" in the 1950s and wanted Brando to play the role of Jason 'Jake' Rogers and Marilyn Monroe to play his lover, Anna Reeves. By the time production began in 1965, Brando was too old to play the role of the son, and took the part of Sheriff Calder instead. Brando was paid $750,000 and his production company, Pennebaker, was paid a fee of $130,000 (Marlon's sister Jocelyn Brando was cast in the small role of Mrs. Briggs). Brando did not like the part, and complained that all he did in the picture was wander around. He began referring to himself as "The Old Lamplighter." However, many critics and cinephiles consider Sheriff Calder one of his best performances.
According to Lawrence Grobel's "Conversations with Brando" (NY: Hyperion, 1991), Brando ultimately made $14 million from Superman (1978). The Salkinds, producers of the movie, tried to buy out his share of the profits for $6 million, but Brando refused and had to file a lawsuit to recover what was owed him.
Was paid $3 million for 10 days work on The Formula (1980) (approximately $8.5 million in 2005 terms). Brando told Lawrence Grobel ("Conversations with Brando") that the movie, which he only made for the money as he was broke, was ruined in the editing room, with the humor of his scenes cut out. In his autobiography, Brando -- in a caption for a picture from the film -- recounts that George C. Scott asked him during the shooting of the film whether he, Brando, would ever give the same line-reading twice. Brando replied, "I know you know a cue when you hear one." The two both played chess together during waits during the shooting. Scott said that Brando was not that good a player.
Brando had to sue Francis Ford Coppola to get all the money owed to him from his percentage of the profits of Apocalypse Now (1979). Brando characterized the people in the movie industry as "liars" to Lawrence Grobel (who conducted his 1979 Playboy interview): "Even Francis Coppola owed me one-and-a-half million and I have to sue him. They all do that, as they make interest on the money . . . so they delay paying . . . It's all so ugly, I hate the idea of having to act, but there's no other way to do it".
The producers of the film adaptation of Sir Peter Shaffer's play Equus (1977) were interested in casting either Brando or Jack Nicholson in the lead role of Dr. Martin Dysart. The part went instead to Richard Burton, who had to "screen-test" for the role by agreeing to appear in the play on Broadway. Burton did, got rave reviews and a special Tony award, and won his seventh and last Oscar nomination for the role. In his diary, Burton wrote that in the late 1950s, he was always one of the first actors producers turned to when Brando turned down a role.
Became quite friendly with Elizabeth Taylor while shooting Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967). He agreed to pick up her Best Actress Award for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966) from the New York Film Critics Circle. When Brando made his appearance at the NYFCC Award ceremony at Sardi's on January 29, 1967, he badgered the critics, querying them as to why they hadn't recognized Liz before. He then flew to Dahomey, Africa, where Taylor was shooting The Comedians (1967) with husband Richard Burton to personally deliver the award. Brando later socialized with the Burtons, visiting them on their famous yacht the Kalizma, while they plied the Mediterreanean. Brando's ex-wife Anna Kashfi, in her book "Brando for Breakfast" (1979), claimed that Brando and Burton got into a fistfight aboard the yacht, probably over Liz, but nothing of the incident appears in Burton's voluminous diaries, in which Burton says he found Brando to be quite intelligent but believed he suffered, like Liz did, from becoming too famous too early in his life. He recognized Brando as a great actor, but felt he would have been more suited to silent films due to the deficiency in his voice (the famous "mumble"). As a silent film star, Burton believed Brando would have been the greatest motion picture actor ever.
His performance as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951) is ranked #85 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
His performance as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront (1954) is ranked #69 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
His monumental portrayal of Vito Corleone in the masterpiece The Godfather (1972) is the #1 Greatest Movie Character of All Time in Premiere Magazine.
Was unable to raise the $10-million bail initially required of his son Christian Brando (Christian Brando) in the May 16, 1990, slaying of his sister Cheyenne's boyfriend Dag Drollet. After a two-day preliminary hearing in early August 1990, the presiding judge ruled that enough evidence had been presented to try Christian on first-degree murder charges. At that time the judge refused to lower the $10-million bail due to what he termed evidence of the Brando family's failure to cooperate with he court, specifically citing Cheyenne's flight from the United States to avoid helping the police investigation. However, two weeks later the same judge reduced Christian's bail to $2 million, which Marlon was able to post by putting up his Mulholland Drive house as collateral. He soon accepted a cameo role in the film Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) for $5 million, according to Variety, the bible of the Hollywood trade papers.
Brando's friend, actor William Redfield, mentioned him prominently in the memoir he wrote about the 1964 stage production of "Hamlet" (later transferred to film as Hamlet (1964)) directed by John Gielgud and starring Richard Burton. In "Letters from an Actor" (1967, Viking Press), Redfield -- who played Guildenstern -- said that Brando had been considered the Great White Hope by his generation of American actors. That is, they believed that Brando's more naturalistic style, combined with his greatness as an actor, would prove a challenge to the more stylized and technical English acting paradigm epitomized by Laurence Olivier, and that Brando would supplant Olivier as the world's greatest actor. Redfield would tell Burton stories of Brando, whom the Welsh actor had not yet met. Redfield sadly confessed that Brando, by not taking on roles such as Hamlet (and furthermore, by betraying his craft by abandoning the stage, thus allowing his instrument to be dulled by film work), had failed not only as an actor, but had failed to help American actors create an acting tradition that would rival the English in terms of expertise.
He worked for union scale on the anti-apartheid film A Dry White Season (1989) with the proviso that the producers donate $3 million (which would have been his normal fee) to charity. When Brando was interviewed by Connie Chung for her TV program Saturday Night with Connie Chung (1989), broadcast on October 7, 1989, he said he was upset with the picture and mentioned the charitable gift the producers had made on his bequest to show his commitment to toppling apartheid in South Africa. Brando could be generous at that time, as he appeared to be set financially for life due to his profit participation in Apocalypse Now (1979) and the $14-million settlement he won from Superman (1978) producer Ilya Salkind. However, the defense of his son Christian Brando, who was arrested for murder on May 16, 1990, reportedly cost his father as much as $5 million, so Brando was forced to go back to work after almost a decade away from the screen, but for the anti-apartheid picture and what he intended as his career swan-song, The Freshman (1990), for which he was paid $3 million (approximately $4.7 million in 2005 dollars). When he died in 2004, Brando left an estate valued at more than $20 million.
Turned down the role of the Sundance Kid in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) after Paul Newman took over the production from Steve McQueen. McQueen, who was obsessed with Newman as his rival as a movie actor and superstar, had bought the script from William Goldman, originally called "The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy". McQueen was slated to play "The Sundance Kid". When he dropped out and Newman took over the production, the title was reversed and Brando was offered the role. He declined in order to film Burn! (1969) with Gillo Pontecorvo. Brando earlier had dropped out of Elia Kazan's The Arrangement (1969) shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Brando told Kazan he could not star in a run-of-the-mill movie after King's assassination. Instead, he opted for "Burn", which was a pro-revolutionary story about a rebellion of African slaves in the Caribbean.
Turned down the role of Earl Partridge in Magnolia (1999).
Turned down the role of the Headless Horseman in Sleepy Hollow (1999).
Keith Richards's son, Marlon Richards is named after him.
Signed on to appear in director Sidney Lumet's adaptation of the play Child's Play (1972) as schoolteacher Joseph Dobbs, but backed out just before principal photography was to begin when he realized James Mason had the better part as his schoolteacher rival. According to Bob Thomas' "Brando: Portrait of the Artist as a Rebel", Brando quit the production when he realized his flagging career would soon be revitalized by the The Godfather (1972). A last-minute replacement, Robert Preston was signed to take over the role, and though a fine actor, he bombed in the performance due to over-projection of his voice (Preston had been playing mainly in the theater in the previous decade). Brando subsequently was sued by producer David Merrick. Ironically, both Brando and Mason were rivals for the part of Viktor Komarovsky in Doctor Zhivago (1965). Both were offered the role by David Lean, and both turned it down.
Was offered the part of Viktor Komarovsky in Doctor Zhivago (1965) by double-Oscar winning director David Lean. However, a month went by and Brando failed to respond to Lean's written inquiry into whether he wanted to play Komarovsky, so the director offered the part to James Mason, who was a generation older than Brando. Lean decided on Mason, who initially accepted the part, as he did not want an actor who would overpower the character of Yuri Zhivago (specifically, to show Zhivago up as a lover of Lara, who would be played by the young Julie Christie, which the charismatic Brando might have done, shifting the sympathy of the audience). Mason eventually dropped out and Rod Steiger, who had just won the Silver Bear as Best Actor for his role as the eponymous The Pawnbroker (1964), accepted the role.
Is mentioned in the Billy Joel song "We Didn't Start the Fire".
Made the Top 10 Poll of Money-Making Stars, as ranked by Quigley Publications' annual survey of movie exhibitors, five times from 1954 to 1973. He debuted at #10 in 1954, and climbed to #6 in 1955 before falling off the list in 1956. He again made the list, as #4, in 1958. He did not appear on the list again until 1972, when he was ranked the #6 Box Office star after the extraordinary success of The Godfather (1972). He made one last appearance in 1973, going out as he had come onto the list, at #10.
Supported John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election.
Idol of Julie Christie.
Brando's decision to send a Mexican actress named Maria Cruz - calling herself Sacheen Littlefeather - to refuse his Best Actor Oscar for The Godfather (1972) at the The 45th Annual Academy Awards (1973) brought widespread condemnation. At the ceremony Clint Eastwood remarked he didn't know whether he should dedicate the Oscar he was presenting to "all the cowboys shot in John Ford's westerns". Michael Caine, nominated for his performance in Sleuth (1972), angrily condemned Brando's actions while Rock Hudson remarked, "Sometimes to be eloquent is to be silent.".
He was a close friend of the reclusive singer Michael Jackson for many years, even appearing in his music video "You Rock My World" in 2001. The last time Brando left his bungalow in Hollywood was to stay at Jackson's Neverland Ranch in the summer of 2003.
Brando's children: 1) From first marriage (with Anna Kashfi) = Christian Devi Brando aka Christian Brando (b. 1958); 2) From second marriage (with Movita Castaneda) = Miko C. Brando (b. 1961) and Rebecca Brando Kotlinzky (b. 1967); 3) From third marriage (with Tarita Teriipia) = Simon Teihotu Brando (b. 1967), Stefano Brando (b. 1967) and Tarita Cheyenne Brando (b. 1970 and d. 1995); 4) From liaisons with Maria Christina Ruiz, his maid = Ninna Priscilla Brando (b. 1989), Myles Jonathan Brando (b. 1992) and Timothy Gahan Brando (b. 1994). Also adopted 3 children: Petra Brando-Corval (daughter of Brando's assistant, Caroline Barrett), Maimiti Brando and Raiatua Brando.
His character Ken Wilcheck in his cinema debut The Men (1950) has the nickname "Bud", which was his own nickname as he was a "junior". (Brando's father, Marlon Brando Sr., later worked for his company Pennebaker Productions, which was named after his mother, the former Dorothy Pennebaker.) The only other film in which Brando goes by the name which his family and intimate friends called him is The Night of the Following Day (1968).
After he received his first Academy Award nomination (Best Actor for A Streetcar Named Desire (1951)), Brando impishly told the Hollywood press corps that he would not attend the ceremony but would send a cab driver in his place to pick up the Oscar, should he win the award. Indeed, Brando did not attend, and some columnists claimed that a cabby actually was in attendance in Brando's seat at Los Angeles' RKO Pantages Theatre the night of ceremony of March 20, 1952. Alas, Brando was the sole "Steetcar" acting nominee not to win that night as Humphrey Bogart took home the gold, so the question can never be satisfactorily resolved.
Jay Kantor was a lowly mailroom clerk at Lew Wasserman's talent agency Music Corp. of America when he was sent to pick up Brando and drive him to the agency. Impressed by the young man, Brando promptly appointed him his agent (Kantor was the inspiration for the character of Teddy Z in the 1989 TV series The Famous Teddy Z (1989)).
Sean Penn told writer Charles Bukowski that Brando put scripts from producers into his freezer, in order to use them as targets in skeet shooting. Brando would take the frozen scripts and have them tossed in the air into the canyon below his home at night, and then proceed to blast them into smithereens with a shotgun while they were on the fly. By freezing the scripts, the pages were stiff and made for better "clay pigeon" substitutes. The practice is mentioned in one of Bukowski's poems. Bukowski also wrote about Brando in his short story "You Kissed Lilly", in which Lilly masturbates while watching Brando in a movie on television. The story is part of the collection "Hot Water Music" (1983).
Turned down the role of Vulcan in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). Director Terry Gilliam was summoned to Brando's Mulholland Dr. home in Los Angeles to discuss the part, but it became apparent that Brando really wasn't interested in taking the part. Nonetheless, Gilliam treasured the time he got to spend with Brando. The part later was played by Oliver Reed, who spent his time drinking and trying to seduce Uma Thurman, who was a virgin at the time.
He was an avid user of the Internet in his final years, often going into chat rooms to start arguments.
Subject of the song "I'm Stuck in a Condo with Mr. Marlon Brando" by The Dickies.
Originally considered too young at 23 to play Stanley Kowalski in the Broadway version of "A Streetcar Named Desire", and the producers of the show tried to get 34-year-old Burt Lancaster, newly a huge star in movies thanks to The Killers (1946). When Lancaster was unable to get permission from the film studio, Brando was given the part and became an overnight sensation.
A large part of his estate was bought by entrepreneur Keya Morgan.
In 1999 the American Film Institute named him the fourth Greatest Male Star of All Time.
Mentioned in The Killers' "The Ballad of Michael Valentine".
Former brother-in-law of Eliot Asinof.
Encouraged Johnny Depp to get himself a private island just like his one in Tahiti.
In the summer of 1995, he started shooting a movie called "Divine Rapture" in the tiny Irish village of Ballycotton, County Cork. His co-stars were Johnny Depp, Debra Winger and John Hurt. Marlon was playing a priest in the film and he had dyed his hair red for the part. Shooting began, but was never completed due to lack of financing.
Biography in: "The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives". Volume 7, 2003-2005, pages 43-46. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2007.
Was fluent in French.
In a 1989 TV interview with Connie Chung, Brando told her that he contributed his entire salary for A Dry White Season (1989) to an anti-apartheid group in South Africa with the understanding that M.G.M. would make a similar contribution. The movie was the first Brando had made in nine years. Brando quoted his salary at $3.3 million plus 11.3% of gross. He claimed that M.G.M. reneged on its own matching contribution to the group and that he was uncertain how much the group received from M.G.M. because of his percentage. Brando's anger with M.G.M. over reneging on its charitable contribution and for cutting his scenes (which he felt were a more forceful indictment of apartheid and had been done to prevent South Africa's then-apartheid government from banning the studio's films) was felt to be one of the reasons that Brando gave his first interview in many years.
While making Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) in Tahiti, Brando fell in love with the place. So, in 1966, he purchased Tetiaroa, a small atoll located approximately 30 miles north of Tahiti. Tetiaroa is to be the site of a lavish new ecological hotel called The Brando. Consisting of 30 deluxe fares (villas), it will be the only hotel on Tetiaroa.
In the last three years of his life, Marlon filmed a series of classes of him giving acting lessons to Sean Penn, Jon Voight and Nick Nolte. Marlon intended to call the series "Lying For A Living" and to sell DVDs of it on shopping channel QVC to raise money. The DVDs were never released publicly following his death.
His ashes were scattered in Tahiti and Death Valley.
He died in 2004 at the age of 80, from obesity, pulmonary fibrosis, diabetes, cardiac failure, and an enlarged liver suggesting cancer.
His Sacheen Littlefeather controversy at the Oscars resulted in the Academy setting stricter rules that nominees cannot send someone else to accept the award onstage or address the audience, and only the presenter is allowed to accept on the winner's behalf. Exceptions are made in the case that the honoree genuinely could not attend due to illness or death.
Huge fan of professional wrestling.
Producer Robert Evans said that Brando was signed for the part of Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972) for $50,000 plus a percentage of the gross on a sliding scale: after the film hit a $10 million threshold, Brando would receive 1% of the gross for the next $10 million and an additional 1% for every $10 million up to 5% when the film grossed over $60 million. (Thus, Brando would receive $100,000 for the second $10 million; $200,000 for the third $10 million; $300,000 for the fourth $10 million; $400,000 for the fifth $10 million; and 5% of everything above that. In desperate need of cash, Brando's attorney called Evans and requested a $100,000 advance. Charlie Bluhdorn, who owned Paramount, demanded that he surrender his points for the cash, and Brando did. Upon its release, "The Godfather" became the top-grossing film of all time. Evans estimated that Brando lost $11 million by selling back his points. Brando was so angry, he refused to appear in The Godfather: Part II (1974) unless he was compensated for his bad deal. Paramount refused. When the studio considered him for the lead in The Great Gatsby (1974), he pushed aside his agent and demanded an unprecedented $4 million fee, seeking to make up for his lost money. Paramount cast Robert Redford instead.
Acquired the nickname of 'Bud' to distinguish himself from his father whom he disliked.
When asked to contribute to his biography for the theater program of "I Remember Mama," Brando claimed he was born in Calcutta and had a Great Dane whom he feeds "dehydrated cubes of dog food.".
While he was at the Actors Studio, Brando directed Julie Harris in a modern version of "Hedda Gabler" set in Nebraska.
When shooting The Men (1950), Brando stayed in the one bedroom apartment of actor Richard Erdman. Brando slept on the couch and was a voracious eater. Brando, who was being paid $40,000 for his role, never offered to help with expenses or restock the refrigerator for Erdman, who was being paid only $5000.
Brando agreed to appear in Candy (1968) as a favour to friend Christian Marquand, who helped with Brando's negotiations with the French government in purchasing the Tahitian island of Tetiaroa.
Brando donated his $25,000 salary for his one day of work on Roots: The Next Generations (1979) to the American Indian Movement.
Brando enjoyed talking to strangers on other islands or passing boats on his ham radio anonymously. He didn't used his real name, and often called himself "Mike" or "Matin Bumby" and spoke in very believable French, German, and Japanese accents.
Between 1981 and 1983 Brando received multimillion offers to play Al Capone, Pablo Picasso, and Karl Marx but turned them down.
Playing the role of Stanley Kowalski, Brando had to describe the Napoleonic Code. Later in his career he would play the role of Napoleon in Désirée (1954).
Was 30 years old when he won his first Oscar for On the Waterfront (1954) in 1955, making him the youngest Best Actor winner. He held the record for 23 years.
In late 1959, it was suggested that he might play William the Conqueror in an epic film which would be the first Cinerama movie to tell a dramatic story instead of being simply a travelogue. Reports suggested that Maria Schell might be his leading lady, that Christopher Fry might write the script and that Laurence Olivier might direct. However, the film was never made, and it seems likely that none of these celebrities was actually made any firm offer. It was several years more before the first narrative films in Cinerama.