15.3.07

When Marlon Brando Taught the Holocaust

Wyman Institute
by Dr. Rafael Medoff

Marlon Brando is a household name in America, thanks to his Oscar-winning roles in such films as On the Waterfront (1954) and The Godfather (1972). What is not widely known is that Brando was one of the first public figures in post-World War II America to speak out about the failure of the Allies to aid Europe's Jews during the Holocaust.

Brando's platform was the Broadway stage. In the summer of 1946, barely a year after the liberation of the Nazi death camps, 22 year-old Brando co-starred in "A Flag Is Born," an explosive play authored by Ben Hecht, the famed Hollywood screenwriter and Jewish activist. Set in a cemetery in postwar Europe, "Flag" focuses on two elderly Holocaust survivors, Tevya (Paul Muni) and Zelda (Celia Adler), who encounter Brando's character, a distraught young Treblinka survivor named David who is on his way to British-ruled Palestine. Through the conversations between Tevya and David, Hecht articulates the Jewish right to the Holy Land and the need for a Jewish state.

The Allies' failure to rescue Jews from Hitler is one of the play's underlying themes. As the story begins, the narrator declares: "o later recalled. At some performances, "Jewish girls got out of their seats and screamed and cried from the aisles in sadness, and at one, when I asked, 'Where were you when six million Jews were being burned to death in the ovens of Auschwitz?', a woman was so over come with anger and guilt that she rose and shouted back at me, 'Where were YOU?' ... At the time there was a great deal of soul-searching within the Jewish community over whether they had done enough to stop the slaughter of their people--some argued that they should have applied pressure on President Roosevelt to bomb Auschwitz, for example--so the speech touched a sensitive nerve."

The words Brando spoke in the play were written by Hecht, but Brando shared the playwright's assessment of how the world responded to the Holocaust. In his memoirs, Brando describes how he learned about Jewish issues from Hecht and especially from his acting coach, Stella Adler. He quickly developed a strong sympathy for their cause, and performed in "A Flag is Born" at the minimum actors' guild wage as a gesture of solidarity.

And Brando championed the Jewish cause offstage, as well. Hecht and Adler were active in the American League for a Free Palestine, better known as the Bergson Group (after its leader, Peter Bergson), which sponsored the play and, after ten weeks on Broadway, staged it in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Detroit, and elsewhere. Brando not only performed in the play, but became, as he put it, "a kind of traveling salesman" for the Bergson Group, speaking at numerous rallies and meetings. In city after city, the young actor spoke to audiences about the international community's silence during the Holocaust, the plight of Holocaust survivors languishing in Europe's Displaced Persons camps, and the need for a Jewish state.

The American Century Theater of Arlington, Virginia, which recreates classic American plays, has just launched a new production of "A Flag is Born." After more than fifty years, the powerful words that Marlon Brando first spoke are again being heard on the American stage. As we commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day this April 18, the echoes of Ben Hecht's play remind us that there are many ways to teach about the Holocaust, and theatrical drama can serve as a powerful educational tool. Marlon Brando proved that in 1946, when he was one of the first to confront postwar America with the hard questions about the Holocaust that need to be asked again and again.

20.8.05

Bertolucci: My love for legend Brando

BBC

By Bernardo Bertolucci
Director, Last Tango in Paris
5 July 2004

With tears in my eyes, it occurs to me that in the very act of dying Marlon has become immortal.


Brando starred with Maria Schneider in 1972's Last Tango in Paris

But perhaps he already was immortal back then in Paris, on the Pont de Passy - that's certainly what the whole crew of Last Tango in Paris thought, hypnotised as they were by his very presence.

None of us had ever encountered such a living legend, and for lovers of cinema he was perhaps the only true legend who'd ever lived.

I remember the first shot of the film: I shouted "OK, that's good" but Umetelli, the camera operator, blushing with embarrassment, whispered to me, "Sorry - as soon as I saw Brando through the viewfinder I became paralysed just watching him." We had to shoot the shot again.

At the Actors' Studio he learned better than anyone how to turn into someone else, to become a Mexican revolutionary, or a Hell's Angel, or a New York docker, or a river, or a tree.


"He made me suffer terribly, giving me serious doubts about myself and my work."
Bernardo Bertolucci (right) on Marlon Brando


In cinema an actor is often required to really get inside someone else's skin. But I asked him to do the opposite, to bring to his performance the whole experience of his life, both as a man and as an actor.

After we'd finished filming he told me: "I'll never do a film like this again. I don't much like acting anyway, but this was much worse.

"From the beginning to the end I felt I'd been violated - intimate details about myself, about my life, even about my children had been dragged out of me and exposed to the world."

After that he wouldn't speak to me for 12 years or so, and he made me suffer terribly, giving me serious doubts about myself and my work.

Then one day I called him, and he kept me on the phone for two hours. We'd begun to talk again like we used to, and there was a lot to catch up with - Marlon was diabolically curious about everything.

The last time I saw him was several years ago at his house on Mulholland Drive, at two o'clock in the afternoon. We talked and talked, and soon it was eight in the evening, and night had fallen.

In the darkness I asked him if he'd ever realised how much I was in love with him.

Brando's former assistant files $1 million suit over oral agreement

KRT Wire

BY JEFF COLLINS
The Orange County Register
Thu, Aug. 18, 2005

SANTA ANA, Calif. - (KRT) - Alice Marchak's secretarial job had some unusual duties.

The Newport Beach, Calif., woman helped manage her boss's household as well as his "numerous financial, personal and career crises." She helped raise his son, becoming the boy's legal guardian. And, according to a recent magazine article, she even cared for her employer's suicidal girlfriends.

Her boss was the late actor Marlon Brando, and Marchak says Brando rewarded those efforts by giving her an Orange County house overlooking Upper Newport Bay and a beachside bungalow on the Tahitian island of Bora Bora.

But Marchak is now suing Brando's estate. She seeks $1.07 million for the real estate plus personal papers and documents she left at Brando's Mulholland Drive home before he died last summer.

An attorney for Brando's $21.6 million estate declined to comment on the litigation. Calls to three executors - film producer Mike Medavoy, business manager Larry Dressler and friend Avra Douglas - were not returned.

The curious hook in the litigation is that Marchak has nothing in writing backing up her claims. The lawsuit, filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court, states that Brando failed to repay $485,000 that he got from selling the Newport Beach home. And, the suit states, Brando gave the Bora Bora property to Marchak - only with his word, not in writing.

He kept the title to the property in his name as a tax write-off, the suit claims. Marchak declined to be interviewed, citing the pending lawsuit. Although her attorney Joel Pipes declined to detail how he plans to prove that those oral contacts are binding, he said, "There is evidence to support our claims."

The case is just the latest in a series of squabbles and lawsuits erupting in the wake of Brando's death at 80 on July 1, 2004. In April, Brando's former business manager - Jo An Corrales of Kalama, Wash. - sued his estate for sexual harassment and wrongful termination, alleging that she was subjected to a hostile work environment and that Brando exposed himself, touched her inappropriately and insisted she watch pornographic films with him.

Corrales also claimed that she and Marchak were wrongfully removed as co-executors of Brando's will 12 days before he died. Brando biographer Peter Manso wrote in "Playboy" magazine last month that "his estate was hit with a flood of lawsuits" in the past year, including demands for payment of unpaid business costs and commissions, as well as property claims by other associates to whom he supposedly promised buildings.

"Brando had lived - personally and professionally - what could charitably be called a messy life," Manso wrote.

In Marchak's lawsuit, the 85-year-old woman described her nearly 50-year personal and business relationship with the actor, starting when she began working as Brando's secretary in 1956. Her duties changed when she later became legal guardian to Christian Brando, the actor's eldest of 11 children, but the suit says she continued working as Brando's personal manager and assistant. Her official employment ended in the 1980s, Marchak claimed, but she continued serving as a consultant until his death.

The lawsuit said she still had a home office at his Mulholland Drive residence when he died. The suit says Brando "orally conveyed" the two properties to Marchak in 1977 "as part consideration for her services." He kept the deed to the Bora Bora property in his name and shared title with Marchak to the three-bedroom Newport Beach home so he could claim tax deductions.

Brando and Marchak each paid $10,000 down on the Newport Beach home, the suit said. "(But) he never lived there, nor did he ever step foot on the property," said Marchak's lawyer, Pipes of the firm Peter Linden and Associates. "She was always the intended true owner of the house, 100 percent."

In 1998, however, Marchak agreed to let Brando sell the home to help him through a cash-flow crunch, the suit said. Brando ended up with the $485,000 that the buyers paid for the house, promising repeatedly until his death to either return the money or buy her another home. Marchak is using a lawsuit to try to gain control of the documents and personal papers, the Bora Bora bungalow and the proceeds from the Newport Beach sale.

There's also a separate legal claim against Brando's estate seeking cash reimbursement for those items. Although Marchak has nothing in writing, the suit says, she "was in possession of the property," and that's enough to support her claim. Brando, the suit said, "had a reputation for making such oral promises."

---

© 2005, The Orange County Register (Santa Ana, Calif.).

1.5.05

Marlon, up for grabs

The Observer

Behind the scenes

He was the greatest film actor of all time - and the most reclusive. Now, a year after his death, the auction of his estate offers a unique insight into Marlon Brando's true character. Anthony Haden-Guest muses on an actor's lot

Sunday May 1, 2005
The Observer


Marlon Brando was so uncomfortable as an icon and so reflexively private a man that rummaging through his things made me feel less a reporter than a voyeur. The things in question, namely the estate of the actor, who died at 80 on 2 July 2004, were on basement shelves in Christie's at the Rockefeller Center, New York, which was where the auction house's head of popular arts, Helen Bailey, a young Brit with a buzzcut, was researching them and sorting them into lots for a 30 June sale. Bailey flicked her hand across several lines of dangling mother-of-pearl chimes which, she said, were 'hanging there to be disentangled'.

'They look disentangled,' I pointed out.

'Well, they are disentangled now,' she said, dryly.

Everything in the sale has been recovered from the property on Mulholland Drive - known as 'Bad Boys Drive' for the presence there of Warren Beatty and Brando's next-door neighbour, Jack Nicholson - into which Brando moved in 1960. The shell chimes, with their cheery suggestion of a suburban patio, were a good fit with the rest of the goods, which are half career memorabilia and half personal. A red Japanese programme was a memento from The Teahouse of the August Moon, but the Japanese paper fan and stack of kimonos seem just to have been stuff the actor liked. A couple of shelves were given over to what Bailey called 'knick-knacky things' - a potbellied Buddha in polished wood, an effigy carved from pinkish-orange soapstone, a Mayan mini-ziggurat in grey sandstone, three bare-bottomed figures in wood, a polished horn, a black and white ceramic dolphin, various lions and rams - objects which held enough meaning for Brando for him to have organised them on a recessed shelf in his bedroom into what Bailey calls 'a sort of shrine'.

Also included were a couple of pieces of furniture that the actor had designed and made himself, including a bench with a polished burlwood seat that had stood outside the kitchen door. Certain items are so mundane as to be intimate, such as Brando's American Express cards and his membership cards in the Screen Actor's Guild - he was 00003839 - and one odder card recording his enrolment in a programme of tear gas training for citizens (confidence in the effectiveness of this course is undermined by the fact that the card gives Brando's weight as 5ft 9in and his height as 250lb).

I had not expected to find oblong frames containing squiggly Brando cartoons with captions that suggested words that he had overheard, maybe too often. In one, an earnest youth says: 'Man I don't play rock anymore. I am rock.' In another, an elderly fellow says: 'I've been out of work quite a spell and I was wondering if ...'

A game of table football was clearly a personal effect. But this folksy statue? 'That's an aboriginal-style fertility statue,' Bailey said. 'I don't think it's authentic. It was a present from Val Kilmer. I think it's fairly obvious it's a fertility statue from the appendage.' Kilmer starred with Brando in 1996's The Island of Dr Moreau. Does that make the piece movie memorabilia?

All in all, Brando's possessions seem as personal, as unpretentious as those of Marilyn Monroe, which had also been sold at Christie's, six years before. Monroe was just two years Brando's junior and the look is a reminder that both came from a time when movie stars did not tend to have high-end decorators, personal shoppers and art advisers. The sale of Katharine Hepburn's effects at Sotheby's, New York, in June 2004 also gave the sense of a life lived pre-media saturation. Of that generation of sacred monsters, Marlon Brando must surely be the last.

The Monroe sale, which had a pre-sale estimate of $2m, made $13m. The Brando sale is estimated at 'in excess of a million'. It includes such career elements as contact sheets for Last Tango in Paris, a stack of publicity shots, awards, such as a blue Wedgwood Bafta for Julius Caesar, and annotated scripts of The Young Lions, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Chase and The Godfather, but there are no such museum pieces as the white dress in which Monroe sang happy birthday to JFK. Lacking, for instance, are the motorbike and black leather Brando wore in The Wild One, to say nothing of the granny dress and bonnet he affected in The Missouri Breaks. Also missing, inevitably, is the Oscar he won for The Godfather, but declined, via Sacheen Littlefeather, to protest against the ill treatment of American Indians (the actual statuette intended for Brando was economically recycled and presented posthumously to Charlie Chaplin).

These elements, by their very absence, draw attention both to Brando's ambivalently iconic status and the eccentricities for which he was far better known in latter times than for his unnerving talent. The poster boy for macho virility had ballooned. Three times married and spending much of his time on his Tahitian atoll, Tetiaroa, he was the father of 11 acknowledged children, one of whom, Christian, killed Dag Drollet, the lover of his half sister, Cheyenne. Who later killed herself.

His latest biographer, Patricia Ruiz, created tabloid headlines by claiming that her quarry was broke, living in a one-room bungalow on social security, a Screen Actors Guild pension and residuals. In fact, post-mortem, Brando's estate was valued at $21.6m.

Such was the mass of information and misinformation generated by this intensely private man that researching this story has involved searching websites with names like findadeath.com, rotten.com, crimelibrary.com and, of course, defamer.com (which predicted 'double digits of bastards'). My real project, though, was to get a sense of how this man lived his life not from the gossipy echodromes of cyberspace but from solid belongings left behind on his death. And there they were - in the catacombs beneath Christie's.

One of the earliest items in the sale, touchingly, is a small cardboard box with 'Bud's medle' written on it in a childish hand. 'He used to be called Bud. That was probably one of his sisters,' Bailey says. The medals were awarded to the youth for canooing, boxing and dancing. There are school books. And here is a crate of drums. 'He always used to say that if he hadn't been an actor he would have wanted to be a drummer. He patented a way of tuning conga drums. This piano [she indicates a black Yamaha] was in his bedroom. He had instruments all over the house ... his congas, bongos, maracas, flutes. No, scrub that! No flutes - didgeridoos, harmonicas, all manner of percussion instruments.'

An acting award, the Donaldson of 1945-46, for his role in the play Truckline Cafe, denotes a breakthrough. The director Elia Kazan was supposedly in the audience. It was Kazan who suggested casting him as the inarticulate Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire. A Streetcar playbill marks this second breakthrough, as do a pair of much-used black boxing gloves. Brando, who liked to spar during breaks, once joined Jessica Tandy on stage with a nosebleed.

He got an Oscar nomination for his second movie, Kazan's screen version of Streetcar, and finally won when he was nominated a fourth time, for On the Waterfront. The nomination certificate is estimated at between $7,000 and $9,000.

'It's a bum's life,' he said in 1960. 'The principal benefit acting has afforded me is the money to pay for my psychoanalysis.'

Would I find clues to this loathing for his own gift in Christie's? It was his over-the-topness as Fletcher Christian in Mutiny on the Bounty that signalled to his fan-base that his career was going off the rails. During this shoot, though, he fell in love with both Tahiti and his co-star Tarita, who he married, and who is the mother of two of his children, one of whom was Cheyenne. Which is doubtless why he kept a model of The Bounty in his television room. That's in the sale, too, estimated at $300 to $500.

A letter from Mario Puzo signals the actor's comeback from his long wallow in the ditch of box-office poison. 'Dear Mr Brando,' it goes, 'I wrote a book called The Godfather which has had some success ...' The letter is estimated at $800 to $1,200.

'I got very excited when I saw this,' Bailey says, pointing at an evening suit. She had thought it was the one, Don Corleone's magisterial DJ, no less; but watching the key scenes over and over, she noticed a small seam on the collar. This was not on the Christie's dinner jacket. 'I realised it was a replica made for The Freshman,' she said. The item worn in the Mafia spoof movie is estimated to fetch between $4,000 and $6,000. Rather more is expected for the black velvet tunic from Berman's & Nathan's, the theatrical costumier in London, which Brando wore as Jor-El, Superman's father. He got $3.7m plus 11.4 per cent of gross receipts for 13 days of filming and was on screen for just 10 minutes.

Brando's girth was swelling along with his pay packet and this seems to have bothered him a bit more than he usually let on. Karl Malden, a friend since both were in Streetcar on Broadway, alludes to it in a letter in the sale: 'Dear Marlin [sic], Last night I went to see A Dry White Season and I don't care if you are 500 pounds or 50 pounds. You are a fucking genius.' There are some books about healthy eating on the shelves and a Total Body Work-Out tape, and another, Integral Yoga Hatha

Videos are necessarily a relatively new component in this kind of auction and Brando's both confirm expectations and confound them. It was hardly surprising to find movies about American Indians, a Discovery Channel series on psychology and a tabloidesque six-part series about purported military and political shenanigans, called Hidden Agenda: real conspiracies that affect our lives today. Nor that there was a whole batch of movies, including musicals like Singin' in the Rain and such relatively recent ones as Woody Allen's Sweet and Lowdown. But who could have guessed that the brooding and reticent - except when preachy - man would be so in love with comedy? That he would own wodges of Abbot and Costello, Richard Pryor and the Best of British Comedy, to say nothing of well over three dozen cassettes of Laurel and Hardy?

It was the shelves of annotated scripts and books, though, that suddenly brought one nose to nose with Marlon Brando in person. Sometimes he will be Brando the pro, as in notes on the characters he was to play. Here is a succinct scribble on a page of a Godfather script as he built the character of Don Corleone: 'Through The Nose High Voice Nose Broken In Youth To Account For Difference'. There are five pages of notes to The Chase and he strikes a political tone in them from time to time. 'It might be of use if Calder's wife was Mex Anglo American and his daughter and wife was subjected to ... the ills of our caste system,' he proposes.

Brando also annotated many volumes in his library. Some of the notes are casual, as when he has scribbled a French telephone number for Roman Polanski on the last page of George Seldes's The Great Thoughts. Other notes are self-interrogatory, or simply strange. On a page of Robert Pirsig's Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a cult book of the Sixties, he has written in red ink: 'What are you thinking? Oh just the usual debris.' Magic Lantern, in which Ingmar Bergman dissects his parents' marriage, is fiercely scored and lined. 'Horseshit!' Brando has written above a passage in Eric Hoffer's In Our Time

On the title page of another book he has copied, or remembered, one of Prospero's speeches from The Tempest. He begins: 'Our revels now are ended' and takes it all the way to 'For we are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.' Brando, who once upbraided his countrymen for being unable to get Shakespeare, signed his text ANON.

Most of these books and videos were found in the house on Mulholland Drive, as were the personal effects, but almost all the career memorabilia was recovered from outhouses used for storage in the grounds. 'There was only one thing in his home that related to his film career,' Helen Bailey told me. 'It was a framed picture of him with Rita Moreno taken when they were making The Night of the Following Day in 1968. A love scene. She's naked. It was hanging in the study.' The shot - it's a still so does not appear in the movie - is estimated at $600 to $800. 'It was strange,' Bailey added. 'Just looking around the house, you wouldn't have been able to guess what his career had been.'

That was the way Marlon Brando wanted it, of course. Might he have guessed that the image he had tried to destroy would engulf him? Did he care? I found few clues at Christie's, except perhaps for the presence in the heap of videos of some of his own best work, such as The Wild One, Guys and Dolls and his only outing as a director, One-Eyed Jacks on tape along with DVDs of Apocalypse Redux, On The Waterfront and The Godfather. For a man who so consistently sabotaged his own career, so savagely trashed his gift, this seems - at the very least - rather curious.

· The catalogue is available at www.christies.com. Bids can be left, but it isn't possible to bid live online

9.11.04

No currently working link

Marlon Brando posthumously honoured



Actors Warren Beatty and Whoopi Goldberg paid tribute to Marlon Brando at a black-tie gala awards ceremony and benefit for the famed acting school where the late two-time Oscar winner once studied.

Brando was posthumously honoured with the Stella Adler Award, which was accepted on his behalf by Beatty.

Beatty described Brando's many virtues including "the breadth of his friendships," the "variety of his curiosities," and the "sometimes totally unexpected straightforward earnestness."

"The thing is, he was never boring," Beatty said, before giving the award to Brando's son, Miko.

Brando and Beatty studied at what is now called the Stella Adler Studio of Acting.

The school was founded in 1949 by actress Stella Adler, who also coached Robert De Niro, Elaine Stritch, Harvey Keitel and Candice Bergen. Adler died in 1992 after teaching acting for more than 40 years.

26.7.04

Profile

Marlon Brando

Name: Marlon Brando
Birth Name: Marlon Brando Jr
Height: 5' 10
Sex: M
Nationality: American
Date: April 3, 1924
Birth Place: Omaha, Nebraska, USA
Occupation: actor, director, producer
Education: Shattuck Military School, Fairbault, Minnesota
Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research in New York
Studied with Stella Adler
Actors Studio in New York
Death Date: July 1, 2004 at 6:30 p.m.
Place of Death: UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA
Death Cause: lung failure

Husband/Wife: Tarita Teriipia (actress; born in 1941; married in 1962), Movita Castenada (actress; born on December 4, 1917; married in 1960; divorced in 1962), Anna Kashfi (actress; born on September 30, 1934; married in October 1957; divorced in 1959).

Relationship: Christina Ruiz (former maid), Rita Moreno (actress; born on December 11, 1931; 12-year on-and-off relationship), Josanne Marianna Berenger (model)

Father: Marlon Brando Sr. (salesman)
Mother: Dorothy Pennebaker (actress; died of effects of alcoholism in 1954)
Sister: Frances Brando (born in 1922; artist) and Jocelyn Brando (born in 1920; actress)

Son: Simon Tehotu (mother: Tarita Teriipia), Miko Brando (security guard; born in 1960; mother: Movita Castenada), Christian Devi (born on May 11, 1958; mother: Anna Kashfi)

Daughter: Ninna Priscilla Brando (born in 1989; mother: Christina Ruiz), Petra Barrett Brando (adopted; born in 1970), Tarita Cheyenne Brando (born in 1970; mother: Tarita Teriipia; commited suicide in April 1995), Rebecca Brando (mother: Tarita Teriipia)

The Brownsville Herald : Local residents recall filming of "Viva Zapata!" starring Marlon Brando

The Brownsville Herald

By Victoria Hirschberg
The Monitor

ROMA, July 3, 2004 — Antonia Saenz’s movie debut came when she carried a torch to light the dynamite in 1952’s Viva Zapata!

She was 17, a recent graduate of Rio Grande City High School and made $10 a day for her role as an extra in the film depicting rebel Indian leader Emiliano Zapata, played by Marlon Brando.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Saenz, who is now 71. “It makes me think I’m young again.”

Brando, known for his roles in films like On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire, died Friday of lung failure at UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Regardless of his numerous roles, Brando always well be known in the small city of Roma for Viva Zapata!

In 1951, director Elia Kazan selected Roma as one of the filming locations for Viva Zapata! Saenz remembers being dressed in the sweltering Rio Grande Valley heat like an Indian peasant and watching Brando, Anthony Quinn and Jean Peters.

She said Quinn, who died in 2001, was very compassionate.

As for Brando, Saenz said he was stuck up but still has fond memories of making the movie. Of course she owns a copy of Viva Zapata!

“It’s good memories…of what I used to be able to do,” Saenz said of her only film.

R.C. Salinas was 11 when his mother would wake him for the trip to Roma from Rio Grande to watch the filming of Viva Zapata!

“I wasn’t the only young man taken out there by parents watching that movie,” Salinas, now 65, said.

He remembers the crowds of curious locals standing by and growing silent when the director yelled “Action!” Despite the heat, the female actresses wore traditional dresses as Quinn sat in front of the M. Guerra general store flirting with them during a scene, Salinas said.

The historic main plaza in Roma was a backdrop for many scenes in the movie. The Guerra store has closed but retains its historic look.

Salinas recalls Brando riding through the plaza on horseback.

Sometimes though, it wasn’t Brando.

Virgil Guerra of Roma used to step in for Brando on horseback, said Guerra’s sister-in-law, Ninfa Guerra. His parents were the owners of the M. Guerra store used in the film. Virgil has since died.

“I considered it an honor that Roma was chosen,” Salinas said. “I was very proud…it really put us on the map for a little while. (There was) The Korean War, the country was barely five years out of World War I1, Falcon Dam was under construction and then comes in Zapata.”

His favorite Brando movie is A Streetcar named Desire with The Godfather running a close second.

For then-9-year-old Noel Benavides, Brando looked huge as he rode into the plaza on his horse.

“It was exciting,” Benavides said. “Every morning…it was during the summer and it gets hot during the summer…the actors, they had fans all over the place to keep those actors cool. Summertime is a wonderful time for a 9-year-old, we didn’t have to get up for school (but) while the filming was going on, we woke up at the crack of dawn.”

He said unfortunately many locals who appeared in the film as extras have died because the movie was filmed more than 50 years ago. Several entities, such as the Chamber of Commerce, the city of Roma and the tourism department, coordinate an annual Viva Zapata! Festival to commemorate the film. The actors receive invitations, but none have attended, Benavides said.

Benavides said Brando was a great actor for many reasons besides filming a movie in Roma.

“He’s very dramatic,” he said. “He gets involved with his films. He was quite an individual.”

Posted by: Gilbert Zarate on Jul 03, 04

IOL: Nicholson expected to buy Brando's old home

IOL

23/07/2004 - 16:25:31

Hollywood actor Jack Nicholson is expected to buy the home of his late screen legend pal Marlon brando - to ensure his own privacy.

Brando, who died earlier this month, lived high above Los Angeles' Mulholland Drive for many years - in full view of Nicholson's sprawling abode which sits nearby.

To get to their homes, visitors are required to pass though a single electric gate.

But now that Brando is gone, pals say Nicholson is thinking of snapping up his home, which is worth a reported $10m (€8.2m).

A source says: "You drive to the right and it's Jack, to the left it was Marlon. Jack won't want anyone else up there.

"Marlon's property looked down onto Jack's houses - he'll want to keep his privacy."

Viva Zapata! True history

Viva Zapata!

Viva Zapata!



Emiliano Zapata was born in the village of San Miguel Anencuilco in the state of Morelos on the 8th of August 1879

The son of a 'strong farmer', Zapata grew up to become the most famous leader of the Mexican Revolution. Like Connolly or the Ladies' Land League in Ireland, Zapata is paid much lip service by the Mexican establishment, but his revolutionary ideas are ignored by those who inherited the power won in the Revolution. A gifted organiser, Zapata also spoke Náhuatl, his local indigenous language.

Elected leader of his village in 1909, Zapata began recruiting an insurgent army even before the Revolution beginning in 1910 which overthrew the dictator Porfirio Díaz. The links between the dictatorship and the U.S.A., combined with Mexico's colonial past, gave rise to much 'revolutionary nationalism' - revolution as defence of the nation - which is still a vibrant force today.

Zapata's Liberation Army of the South did not accept the new reformist government under Francisco Madera. The Zapatistas fought on against government troops lead by Victoriano Huerta, the general who overthrew Madera in February, 1913, and was then deposed in 1914. At the following Convention in Aguascalientes, called to decide the future of Mexico, the Zapatistas demanded 'tierra y libertad' - land and freedom - for their people.

This was the core of Zapata's 'Plan de Ayala', produced in November 1911. Clearly influenced by anarchist ideas spread in Mexico by people like Ricardo Flores Magón, Zapata demands the socialisation of land:

The lands, forests and water that have been usurped ... will be immediately restored to the villages or citizens who have title to them ... Because the great majority of Mexicans own nothing more than the land they walk on ... one third of these properties will be expropriated ... so that the villages and citizens of Mexico may obtain ejidos , sites for towns, and fields.

Zapata remained in opposition, fighting against terrible repression, until 1919. Lured to a meeting with government troops apparently mutinying against President Carranza, he was gunned down on April the 10th, 1919. Although the insurgents fought on, and Zapata's ghost was seen to ride the hills of his native state, Morelos, the conservatives won out, and Zapata's ideas of fair distribution of land remained ignored until the presidency of Lázaro Cárdenas in the late 1930's.

Zapata's memory, like his ghost, rides on in Mexico. His name has been invoked by the indigenous rebel army in Chiapas, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), in their struggle against exactly the same social ills that Zapata fought against: large landlords and (often foreign-owned) big business running a corrupt and repressive régime that leaves the peasants, particularly indigenous peoples, landless and exploited. Throughout this century, people all over the world have risen up against oppression, taking heart from Zapata's cry:

It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees!

Tribute to Marlon Brando

**This was taken from a great tribute site on Marlon, but it no longer exists. Sadly, so many internet sites come and go, taking their wealth of information and photographs with them.



VIVA ZAPATA!

"From a screenplay by John Steinbeck, the film traces the rise and fall of Emiliano Zapata, an outlaw hero who led a small band of men in as uprising against corrupt land barons in 1910 Mexico.
- To suggest Zapata's Indian ancestry, Brando had his nose thickened, eyelids slanted and hair and eyebrows darkened. He also donned a fake mustache.
- As usual, during the filming of Zapata, Brando coudn't help but get into mischief. On location in Texas, he shot off a string of firecrackers in a hotel lobby, serenaded Jean Peters (heroine) from a treetop at three in the morning, horrified cast and crew by playing dead for several minutes following the hail of gunfire that ends Zapata's life and gleefully told visiting reporters that he once ate grasshoppers and gazelle eyes.
- It was while on the Texas location that Brando first met his future wife Movita Castenada, who had a bit part in the picture. Movita had played Clark Gable's native-girl love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty (which was remade with Marlon Brando in the 60s).
- Zapata was a financial success and garnered excellent reviews.
- Brando won the following awards for his role as Zapata - "Best Foreign Actor" British Academy Award, "Best Actor" New-York Film Critics Circle Award and "Best Male Peformance" at the Cannes Film Festival for this movie.
- Brando again won an Academy award nomination, but lost to Gary Cooper for High Noon."

6.7.04

NPR : Dick Cavett on Marlon Brando's Private Life

NPR : Dick Cavett on Marlon Brando's Private Life

Click on the above link to hear the audio file


Marlon Brando spoke to our confusion

International Herald Tribune

David Thomson NYT Tuesday, July 6, 2004

R.I.P.

SAN FRANCISCO At the end he was huge, stranded, nearly alone, his life littered by the needs (or the appearance) of more and more children, and by what was reported as near penury.
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It sounds bad enough to deserve some relief: being Marlon Brando had stopped being fun some long time ago - though everyone who ever knew him would tell you that fun, mischief, earthiness and raw spontaneity were his inspiration.
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The obituaries make Colonel Kurtz in "Apocalypse Now" seem like a rehearsal for the final isolation of our greatest actor, and there were ways, I think, in which it was a contrived and even an engineered role. For there was a mixture of self-pity and self-destructiveness in Brando that could not endure the toxic diet of straight American success.
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His enormous appetites - for food, for sex and for money - were all pursued to prove how free he was, and yet how childish he could be. Emotionally, he reckoned himself always a misfit, and in real terms he was surely destined to be an outcast, a great hulk whose every sigh added to his own legend.
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Performances date, of course, and film is a dire, cruel medium that lets us laugh at things that once moved people to the depth of their being. The Brando who became a model for the Actors Studio style, the Stanislavski Method or Elia Kazan's intensity (however you want to call it) already looks like a figure from history.
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Even Terry Malloy, in "On The Waterfront" (for which he won his first Oscar, in 1954), now seems a very beautiful, poetic ex-boxer.
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But Brando was always as much a romantic as he was a brute: there was no kind of moment in which he was more magical than when a plain man was suddenly pierced by a fine thought.
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On the other hand, his Vito Corleone, for which he won his second Oscar, in 1972, strikes us still as decent and rather humble. Vito is a family man and a businessman, blessed to be in America, but led astray and terribly pained to think that his most beloved son, Michael, might have to follow his own dark steps.
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"The Godfather" is a very complex parable - richer and more lasting than "On the Waterfront" in part because Vito is so ordinary and natural a man. The film has also endured because it knows the ease with which American idealism can become dreadfully compromised.
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Brando's Colonel Kurtz went "up the river" in Vietnam for similar reasons - the best soldier of his time had seen how depraved the American armed forces had become.
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And that is a vital part of Marlon Brando's importance. Four or five times in his life, he found himself cast in roles that were emblematic of the inner confusions of his nation.
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The first such role, of course, was Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire." Read that play on the page and it is unmistakably a play about Blanche DuBois. But the sensation of "Streetcar" - the 30-minute ovations it received on Broadway in 1947 - was never just for Blanche. It was for this new male figure on stage, so close you could smell the sweat, a brute and a beauty at the same time - and Brando the kid was so beautiful the applause may have nearly overwhelmed the actor sometimes.
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But the notion that turbulence and incoherence had within them poetry and passion was not merely the engine to the Method; it was the script that James Dean, Elvis Presley and just about every teenage icon ever since would act out. It is also a horribly American type: so strong, so anxious to be thought powerful, yet so desperate for tenderness.
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The other great role that those words could describe is Brando's American in Bernardo Bertolucci's "Last Tango in Paris," made at a moment when the movies were so intoxicated by their own advances in the portrayal of sexual behavior that they needed a big star to really, truly "do it" on screen.
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Bertolucci encouraged Brando to draw from his own experience for his character, and Brando's monologues, most of them improvised, are painfully raw. The film is astonishing for the way in which it established sexuality as the template of existence.
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Of course, we wanted so much more from Marlon Brando - his Lear, his Hamlet, his Uncle Vanya, his Willy Loman. We wanted the plays that might have been inspired by him if he had stayed loyal to the theater. But he went west to a city he never liked and a business that he despised, driven in part by the money he could make.
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In truth, he handled the money like a kid in a candy store, but then he would rebuke Hollywood for its crassness and its greed. He wanted everything, and he wanted to be the hero. Though he grew vast and decrepit, he may never have grown up.
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It is striking that his death comes at a moment when America's maturity is tragically necessary yet tormentingly distant. If only, we feel, now that he is gone, if only he could have tried again.

David Thomson is the author of "The New Biographical Dictionary of Film."

3.7.04

short bio

amctv



An enigmatic genius whose creative work transformed an entire art form, Marlon Brando continues to inspire new generations of actors. Yet despite the tremendous emotional depth Brando reveals in his performances, he has kept his personal life a closely guarded secret.

Born April 3, 1924, Brando's nickname was "Bud." His mother, Dorothy, was active in Nebraska theater, and was the woman who got Henry Fonda to try his luck at the thespian life. Brando's home life was unhappy. His father was an alcoholic and an adulterer, and his mother turned to the bottle herself in response. Though young Marlon felt abandoned by Dorothy, she did manage to instill in him a love of music, nature, and the theater.

The rebellious young Brando was sent to, and soon expelled from, the Shattuck Military Academy. He traveled to New York City, and despite his initial lack of interest in acting, the theater soon proved to be his calling. When he enrolled in the New School's Dramatic Workshop, his famed teacher Stella Adler introduced him to Stanislavsky's "Method", an approach that values emotional honesty and verisimilitude in performance above traditional stagecraft. At the Actors Studio, Method mentor Lee Strasberg also nurtured Brando's monumental talent, preparing the powerhouse actor for his breakthrough role as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire" (playing some performances with a broken nose after sparring with understudy Jack Palance). Hollywood was impressed, and soon Brando, together with most of the original cast, re-created his role in the film version of Streetcar (1951) to wide acclaim.

From his star turn in "Streetcar", Brando went on to The Wild One in 1954, earning his first Oscar® nomination and counterculture celebrity. Brando's explosive emotional intensity was stifled by the big screen, and he was displeased with his Oscar®-winning portrayal of Terry Malloy in Elia Kazan's On The Waterfront (1954), even though it sealed his reputation as an American icon. Says Brando of his famous "I could've been a contender" scene: "People spoke about that, 'Oh, my God, what a wonderful scene, Marlon, blah blah blah blah.' It wasn't wonderful. Everybody feels a sense of loss about something. That was what touched people. It wasn't the scene itself. There are some scenes, some parts that are actor-proof." During On The Waterfront, Brando made forays into improvisation, a technique he embraced for the rest of his career.

During the 1960's, Brando's career slowed down as his political activity revved up. He spent time with Bobby Seale of the Black Panthers while researching Burn! (1969) and took up the Native American cause. In rejecting his Oscar® for The Godfather (1972), Brando cited Hollywood's indifference to the plight of Native Americans as his reason for not accepting the Oscar®, which he called "a door prize." Brando describes his controversial role in Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango In Paris (1973) as "the first time I have felt a total violation of my innermost soul," and after his tortured performance in this masterpiece he distanced himself from his art. Since then, he has primarily appeared in character and cameo roles, notably in Apocalypse Now (1979), The Freshman (1990), and Don Juan DeMarco (1995). After penning his autobiography, "Songs My Mother Taught Me," Brando appeared in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), The Brave (1997), Free Money (1998), and The Score (2001), which teamed him with fellow Method actors Robert De Niro and Edward Norton.

Marlon Brando died on July 2nd, 2004. No cause of death has been announced yet.

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Marlon Brando
(Filed: 03/07/2004)



Marlon Brando, who died in Los Angeles on Thursday aged 80, was the most influential film star of his generation, pioneering on screen the use of the acting technique popularly known as the Method.

Originally developed by the Russian Constantin Stanislavsky and transplanted to America at the Actors Studio run by Lee Strasberg, the Method encouraged players to identify with their roles and imagine for them a biography beyond the bounds of the script. At its best this resulted in a realism and conviction never before seen on the screen. Marlon Brando was its most gifted exponent, and he set the pace for such later players as James Dean, Paul Newman and Al Pacino.

In his first six films, culminating in On the Waterfront (1954), for which he won an Oscar, Brando was consistently superb. It is no coincidence that three of them were directed by Elia Kazan, himself a leading figure at the Actors Studio.

In A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), Brando was the definitive Stanley Kowalski, a performance against which all subsequent interpretations have been measured. Elia Kazan wrote about his portrayal of the animally magnetic, uncouth, slobbish Kowalski: "If there is a better performance by a man in the history of film in America, I don't know what it is." Brando conferred upon even the most oafish-seeming characters a dignity, integrity, sincerity and magnetic force that in his early films banished all temptation to mock.

In Viva Zapata! (1952), he was more Mexican than the Mexicans, while his Mark Antony in Joseph L Mankiewicz's production of Julius Caesar (1953) was a tour de force, effortlessly embracing the classical diction that many had thought beyond him.

In his early films detractors deplored his garbled delivery, particularly in The Wild One (1953) and in Streetcar, in which he famously addressed Vivien Leigh through a mouthful of squelching tomatoes. His uncouth behaviour, which he maintained off set as well as on, was thought to be typical of the man. Yet to a degree it was consistent with the Method approach. Brando often played louts of low intelligence and was living the part.

Had he sustained the quality of these films, Brando would have been unassailable as the finest actor the screen has known. But it was not to be. On the Waterfront was to be the apex of his career, setting standards that he would never quite recapture, even in the best of the films that followed.

With hindsight, the turning point can be pinpointed accurately. It hinged on a bad choice and an untidy attempt to reverse it. After his 1954 Oscar for On the Waterfront, Brando was the hottest property in Hollywood. Every studio wanted to sign him up, and Fox clinched the deal with what promised to be an epic, The Egyptian. At script stage, however, it was clear that this would be a "turkey" and Brando sought to tear up his contract. Fox sued for $2 million and the matter was resolved only by Brando agreeing to make Desiree (1954) for the same studio.

He was to play Napoleon - a better part but in an equally dire script. Brando later admitted that he "let the make-up do the work". It was a compromise, the first of many.

Though he continued to enjoy the pick of the most prestigious productions, Brando's work became increasingly gimmicky, seemingly geared to future promotion campaigns rather than to the art of acting. Hence: Brando sings - Guys and Dolls (1955); Brando plays a Japanese - The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956); and Brando plays a Nazi - The Young Lions (1958).

A curious feature was the number of films that called for him to be beaten up or otherwise physically abused. In On the Waterfront and The Wild One he was beaten to a pulp; in The Fugitive Kind (1960) he was castrated; in Apocalypse Now (1979) he was felled like an ox; and in One-Eyed Jacks (1960), the Western he directed himself, he had his trigger finger smashed by a vindictive lawman. Freud would have had a field day.

After Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) - a watershed production that cost $19 million, changed director in mid-course and returned only $9 million after 12 different endings were shot in a desperate search for a way to wrap it up - Brando's clout was permanently weakened. He was held personally responsible for the on-set delays and budget over-runs that scuppered the picture.

For the next 10 years he was reduced to worthless roles in frivolous productions, one of which, The Night of the Following Day (1969), was relegated to the second half of a double bill. By 1972 he was virtually unemployable, and it took all Francis Ford Coppola's persuasion to win Paramount's approval to cast him in The Godfather. At first the studio wanted nothing to do with him, one executive declaring: "He's dead in this business. Worse than dead, he's a vampire."

And so Brando underwent a screen test. For it, he stuffed his cheeks with tissue paper, rubbed boot-polish in his hair, smoked, ate Italian sausage, gestured feebly with his hands and jutted out his chin. The effect was instant. "The guy's terrific," said one of those who viewed the test. "Who is he?" In the end, his performance as the gangster Vito Corleone earned him his second Oscar.

This brief revival in his career was consolidated in Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (also 1972). Whether the film was viewed as bold and imaginative or as disgustingly lurid, Brando's performance as an ageing American who commits a series of indecent acts in an unfurnished apartment with an anonymous French girl won respect, not only for his world-weary air of resignation to what looked like a perilous kind of passion, but also for his way of suggesting that he was just there behaving - very badly perhaps, but very naturally. Much of the film had been improvised before the cameras.

After this, however, Brando retreated more and more into highly paid bit parts and took a nine-year sabbatical in the 1980s before returning to the screen intermittently in cameos and comedies that did not stretch his abilities.

Voluntary retirement on his very own South Sea island (Tetiaroa) also took a toll of his physique. Long gone was the athletic form that had graced his early work; in its place was a grotesque figure of monstrous proportions that made him hard to cast in any but sedentary roles. Hence the South African lawyer he played in A Dry White Season (1989) and the psychiatrist in Don Juan de Marco (1995). He was an actor for whom the best known line from On the Waterfront ("I could have been a contender") could scarcely have been more apt, and it was hard to disagree with James Mason that "Brando made such a mess of his career".

He was born at Omaha, Nebraska, on April 3 1924, the son of a manufacturer of chemical feedstuffs and insecticides. In his autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me (1994), Brando described a childhood marred by his mother's alcoholism and his father's indifference. "He enjoyed telling me I couldn't do anything right. He had a habit of telling me I would never amount to anything." At 15 he was sent to Shattuck Military Academy, Minnesota, from which he was expelled for insubordination just before the end of his last term.

He toyed with entering the Church, and also the Army, but was turned down on medical grounds. The father he felt had no time for him nevertheless paid for him to go to New York to train as an actor. He enrolled at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research under the veteran director Erwin Piscator. He also studied under Stella Adler, a leading teacher of the Method school of acting; she became a formative influence.

Plays in which Brando appeared in the late 1940s included I Remember Mama, Truckline Cafe, Bernard Shaw's Candida (as Marchbanks) and A Flag Is Born, about the birth of the state of Israel. Though John Garfield had been first choice to play Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, he turned it down; and the director, Elia Kazan, then fought for Brando to fill the role. After Tennessee Williams heard Brando read he landed the part; and on December 3 1947 Broadway history was made when the play opened with Brando opposite Jessica Tandy.

Theatre audiences had never before heard an actor deliberately slur his words in the interests of realism or flaunt his sexuality so blatantly on stage. It was an innovative approach that set the tone for the whole of the next decade.

Hollywood beckoned, and in 1950, under Fred Zinnemann's direction, Brando made his screen debut in The Men as a paraplegic war veteran, a role to which he brought an astonishing physical force. To prepare for the part, he spent weeks observing real casualties at the Veterans' Hospital in Van Nuys, California.

Brando then repeated his stage role in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, and played a Mexican revolutionary in Viva Zapata! His performance as the leader of a gang of motorcyclists in The Wild One was considered so powerful and inflammatory that the film was banned in Britain for 12 years. It is remembered especially for a classic exchange in which Brando, asked what he is rebelling against, replies: "Whaddaya got?"

Brando's Mark Antony in Julius Caesar was equally remarkable. An anti-romantic reading, it underlined the political calculation behind his every word and deed. And he looked like a god - a winner if ever there was one beside James Mason's rational but colourless Brutus.

John Gielgud, who played Cassius, used to recall that when Brando arrived on the set in his tomato-coloured toga and with his hair cropped in a straight fringe, he looked self-conscious, as if afraid of people's laughter. He would then take out a cigarette and stick it behind his ear. But Gielgud noted that Brando heeded his solicited advice on the delivery of the great Forum speeches "in every particular", and noted Brando's collection of tape-recordings by the great American classical actors John Barrymore and Maurice Evans, which he used to improve his diction.

Although many film-goers found it hard to accept his presence in ancient Rome, Brando acquitted himself with a surprising assurance and eloquence considering that the film was his first and last brush with Shakespeare.

On the Waterfront, in which Brando played an inarticulate, gum-chewing longshoreman who gradually learns where his true loyalties lie, gave him his finest role. The celebrated taxi scene in which he berates his brother (Rod Steiger) for robbing him of the chance to become a boxing champion remains a classic. Subsequent work, including Sayonara (1957), in which he was a Southern Air Force officer involved in an inter-racial love affair in occupied Japan, was more conventional.

In 1960 he made his only film as a director - the Western One-Eyed Jacks, originally intended for Stanley Kubrick and in which Brando also took the lead role as a bandit. Though it opened to mixed reviews, it was an intensely personal picture, in which Brando's relationship with a surrogate father ("Dad" Longworth, played by Karl Malden) plainly echoed elements from his own life. Paramount cut it and tampered with the ending, but the brooding atmosphere survived and the film broke new ground for a Western in being set extensively on the Californian coast against a background of crashing waves.

The debacle of Mutiny on the Bounty, with Brando as Fletcher Christian (the old Clark Gable role, but now played as a foppish aristocrat) was long held against him in Hollywood. For the rest of the 1960s, with the exception of Reflections in a Golden Eye (1967), directed by John Huston from a Carson McCullers novel, Brando was unable to find a worthy role. Title followed title - The Ugly American (1963); Bedtime Story (1964); The Saboteur: Codename Morituri (1965); and Southwest to Sonora (1966) - without making waves.

Even A Countess from Hong Kong (1967), Charlie Chaplin's last film, was a disaster. Intended as a sophisticated comedy, with Brando as a diplomat opposite Sophia Loren, the souffle sank. Candy (1968), an example of mainstream porn with Brando in only one scene as an Indian guru, was the low point of his career.

Queimada (1970), made in Italy for Gillo Pontecorvo, was better but little seen abroad; while The Nightcomers (1971), made in England for Michael Winner, was a pointless prequel to The Turn of the Screw.

The Godfather and Last Tango in Paris came just when Brando needed them, restoring a badly tattered reputation. When Brando won his second Oscar in 1972 for the first of these, he declined to accept it, sending an aspiring actress named Sacheen Littlefeather to the ceremony to refuse on his behalf, on the ground that Hollywood films degraded American Indians.

Brando's later work in the 1970s consisted largely of cameos. In The Missouri Breaks (1975) he had a small role but equal billing with Jack Nicholson. Cast as a "Regulator" hired to bring Nicholson's outlaw to book, he camped up the production, playing one scene in a gingham dress and a granny cap.

For Superman (1978) he was paid an unprecedented $3.7 million for just one scene as Superman's father on Planet Krypton. In The Formula (1980) he had three scenes but co-star billing with George C Scott. Of both stars, the director Steve Shagan said: "I sensed a loss of purpose, a feeling that they didn't want to work any more and had come to think of acting as playing with choo-choo trains."

In the late 1980s Brando returned to the cinema after a long absence, but the films were no better. The Freshman (1989) was an inferior comic retread of his work in The Godfather; and in 1992 he played Torquemada in Christopher Columbus - The Discovery, the feebler of two weak movies made to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Columbus's first landing in America. His last films were Don Juan de Marco in 1994 and a remake of The Island of Dr Moreau in 1996. An Irish comedy, Divine Rapture, with Brando as a Roman Catholic priest, was abandoned in 1995 after two weeks' shooting. In 1999 he appeared in a film called Free Money, a comedy made exclusively for the Sky Premier television channel.

Marlon Brando's private life was always public, and he took care to make it so. "Like the vast majority of men," he said, "I've had several homosexual experiences and I'm not remotely ashamed of it." At a London party in the 1960s, to which he turned up drunk, Brando invited his host, the critic Kenneth Tynan, to accompany him to the bathroom. There he dared him, as a proof of friendship, to kiss him full on the lips. Tynan, eyebrows raised, assented. Brando had told the actor Cameron Mitchell, his co-star in Desiree, that he was "trisexual", which must have caused some head-scratching in 1954.

His last years were overshadowed by tragedy. In 1990 his son Christian shot dead his half-sister Cheyenne's boyfriend, Dag Drollet, and was jailed for 10 years (later reduced). Five years later Cheyenne committed suicide after three previous attempts.

Marlon Brando was formally married twice. His first wife was the "Indian" actress Anna Kashfi, mother of Christian. The day after their wedding, her parents announced that she was actually Welsh and that her real name was Joan O'Callaghan. She and Brando divorced two years later.

His second wife, whom he married in 1960, was Movita Casteneda, who had played in the original (1935) version of Mutiny on the Bounty. This marriage was dissolved within a year. Later he married a Chinese-Polynesian dancer, Tarita Teriipaia, the mother of Cheyenne and of his son Teihotu. In all, Marlon Brando is said to have fathered 11 children by four women, including three by Christina Ruiz, his "maid".

Telegraph