On the surface, Marlon Brando seemed to have it all: heartbreaker looks, beautiful women, and Hollywood recognition. But behind the glittering facade, Brando was a tormented soul. Haunted by his disappointing past, his personal demons often became his own worst enemy. With his soaring talent, he ensured his legacy, but sadly, nothing could protect him from unforeseen tragedy.
1. He Had Troubled Role Models
Marlon Brando’s turbulent childhood was a far cry away from the fame he’d one day achieve. Born in Nebraska on April 3, 1943, Brando’s parents were atrocious role models and despicable parents. Both of them were heavy drinkers, and little Brando often watched in wide-eyed disappointment as his parents struggled with addiction. But this was just the tip of the iceberg.
2. He Never Felt Good Enough
Growing up, Brando constantly felt like an utter failure. No matter how hard he tried to impress his father, he always seemed to come up short. Brando once remembered: “He enjoyed telling me I couldn’t do anything right. He had a habit of telling me I would never amount to anything.” But this deep resentment toward his father only fueled Brando’s inner fire.
3. He Was A Talented Mimic
From the very beginning, young Brando displayed a talent for mimicry. In fact, he was a total sponge: He observed his friends and flawlessly embodied their characters, mastering their mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. But he also used his talent at home. In fact, his very first foray into acting was touching and heartbreaking in equal measure.
4. He Wanted Her Attention
Growing up on a farm, Brando drew inspiration from his surroundings, namely the cows and horses. He took to imitating these rough animals and chose to perform for his mother in an attempt to capture her attention. Brando tried to distract her from the temptation of the bottle with his silly antics, but of course, nothing could truly curb her spiraling addiction. Despite Brando’s heartache, this early love of acting helped paved the way for his bright future.
5. He Was A Troublemaker
For the most part, Brando performed excellently at the Military Academy he attended, especially in theater. But soon, his penchant for troublemaking won out. The school placed Brando on probation for many different infractions, but they never actually caught him for his wildest (and most bizarre) act of rebellion. And boy, was it a doozy.
6. He Was A Genius Manipulator
One night, Brando climbed the academy’s bell tower, removed its massive, 150-pound clapper, and dragged it 200 yards before burying it. When the campus found out, he came up with an ingenious way to avoid detection: he himself led the committee looking for the culprit. If there was one thing Brando was good at—it was sticking it to the man.
7. He Planned A Great Escape
After pulling this risky stunt, Brando went on to defy authority every chance he got. Once, after being accused of insubordination, Brando had strict orders to remain shut in his room. Of course, never one to bow to anyone’s commands, Brando concocted his own great escape. He skipped all the way to town before they finally found him.
8. He Didn’t Seem To Fit In Anywhere
Even after he was caught, Brando didn’t take advantage of the school’s leniency and promptly dropped out. When his plan to join the army fell through, Brando saw his options quickly dwindling. But not all was lost. He soon turned his attention toward the land of glittering possibility—New York City. Perhaps this was where all his dreams would finally come true.
9. He Found His Calling
When he was only 18 years old, Brando headed off to New York City to pursue the one thing he’d ever felt accomplished at—acting. After a childhood spent on the receiving end of his father’s brutal criticism, acting was a soft place to land. For once in his life, he felt bolstered by all the happy compliments and encouragement. But Brando’s “unique” acting approach didn’t enthuse everyone.
10. He Was Difficult
Brando took acting very seriously, sometimes so seriously that it rubbed critics and some of his costars the wrong way. He wanted his performance to be authentic and natural, but sometimes he just came off as extremely difficult. And that wasn’t all. He continued to build the naughty reputation he’d began in boyhood, and he served it up shamelessly.
11. He Showed Up Late
Brando’s breakthrough performance was as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, and the story behind how he got the gig is now legendary. After showing up a few days late for his audition with Tennessee Williams, at the playwright’s house, he proceeded to fix the electrical fuses and the house’s plumbing before finally giving his reading.
12. He Was A Big Surprise
When it came to Brando, Williams expected nothing special from this fresh newcomer. He thought perhaps the handiwork was an attempt to butter him up for a poor audition, but he was quickly proven wrong. Once Brando began to act, Williams couldn’t keep his eyes off him. He later confessed that the audition was “the most magnificent reading” for a part he had ever seen in his life.
13. He Was A Stunner
Not only did Brando nail his Broadway performances, but he also delivered once the cameras started rolling on the 1951 film adaptation. Nobody can quite forget his effortless poise and onscreen presence. Most notably, his undeniable good looks caught the attention of audiences everywhere, and before he knew it, Marlon Brando was both a certified sex symbol and an Academy Award nominee. With a face like that and the acting to chops to match, it wasn’t long before he turned the head of the hottest bombshell in Hollywood…
14. He Caught The Eye Of A Blonde Bombshell
Not long after filming A Streetcar For Desire, Brando ended up at the same party as Marilyn Monroe. But surprisingly enough, she wasn’t the life of the party. Instead, she quietly removed herself from the crowd and played the piano in the corner. Still, when she spotted Brando, she couldn’t resist an introduction. But if Brando had any fantasies about meeting this blonde starlet, their meet-cute was actually a bit of a nightmare.
15. He Had An Awkward Introduction
When Monroe tapped Brando on the shoulder, he turned around swiftly and whacked her in the head with his elbow. Aghast, he insisted it was an accident, apologizing over and over again. Monroe, however, wasn’t fazed at all and simply said, “There are no accidents.” Having tickled his sense of humor, he almost immediately burst out laughing. This was certainly the beginning of something special.
16. He Wanted To Be More Than Friends
These two gorgeous stars started off as friends, but knowing Brando, a platonic friendship was not the endgame. He definitely wanted to show up at Monroe’s place and ravish her…all he needed was an invitation. And that’s exactly what he got. In his autobiography, Brando wrote, “She invited me over and it wasn’t long before every soldier’s dream came true.” From then on, these two maintained a bond that lasted until the end of her life.
17. He Was Her Confidante
Brando recognized a sensitivity and vulnerability in Monroe that resonated with him. While they were on and off for years, they also indulged in deep conversations, calling each other up and talking for hours on end. He thought she had a “strong emotional intelligence,” and she opened up to him about her many struggles. Still, nothing could have prepared him for Monroe’s tragic end.
18. He Spoke To Her Right Before She Passed
Apparently, only days before her untimely death in 1962, Brando and Monroe spoke on the phone. She invited him to dinner, but due to his busy schedule, he made a rain check. When Marilyn Monroe was found deceased in her bed, Brando was devastated. But as whispers of an apparent suicide began to circulate, Brando refused to believe them.
19. He Had His Reasons
Brando’s last phone call with Monroe didn’t set off any alarm bells. He felt he knew her well enough to know whether she was in trouble, and she had seemed as content and easygoing as always. And while some speculated that a breakup with Robert Kennedy might have sparked the tragedy, Brando believed that Monroe would never have issued him a dinner invitation if she was still involved with another man.
20. He Suspected Foul Play
In Brando’s mind, if Marilyn was gone, it could only be for one of two reasons—an accidental overdose or foul play: “I’m pretty good at reading people’s moods and perceiving their feelings, and with Marilyn I didn’t sense any depression or clue of impending self-destruction during her call. That’s why I’m sure she didn’t commit suicide.” While the rest of the world had lost a resounding talent and celebrity, Marlon Brando mourned for a close friend. Of course, when it came to losing loved ones, this was only the beginning.
21. He Met His Match
In 1954, Marlon Brando set eyes on one of the most beautiful women he’d ever seen—the alluring Rita Moreno. She’d come to visit him on the set of Désirée, and hadn’t had any high expectations of meeting the star. In fact, he’d never really crossed her mind at all. But, of course, all that changed in an instant. The second they clapped eyes on each other, all bets were off.
22. He Turned Her On
The chemistry between Brando and Moreno was so charged—it was palpable. In her memoir, Moreno described this meeting with the utmost passion: “Just meeting him that first day sent my body temperature skyrocketing as though I had been dropped into a very hot bath, and I went into a full-body blush.” There was no doubt about it—this was the beginning of an epic romance.
23. He Kept His Demons At Bay
Still, despite the hormones at play, the pure fire of their instant attraction alerted Moreno to the red flags surrounding them. Quite damaged and vulnerable herself, she recognized that Brando also had his fair share of demons. Even as she fell into his warm embrace, she knew she was in for a bumpy ride. Neither one of them would escape unscathed.
24. He Was A Womanizer
Brando’s tumultuous relationship with women seemed to stem from his own disappointing relationship with his mother. He had trouble trusting anybody, and even as he womanized his way through Hollywood, he always tried to protect his own heart. When Brando met Moreno, his undoubted passion for her didn’t stop him from hurting her in the worst ways imaginable.
25. He Was A Generous Lover
Brando was a top-notch lover. He really knew how to please a woman, and he never let Moreno forget it. When speaking about his expertise beneath the sheets, Moreno gushed, “To say that he was a great lover—sensual, generous, delightfully inventive—would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul.” But was this amount of sheer pleasure enough to sustain their relationship? Absolutely not.
26. He Cheated On Her Incessantly
Brando was not a committed man, and he certainly wasn’t monogamous throughout his eight-year stint with Moreno. He cheated on her constantly, both physically and emotionally, and it absolutely broke her heart. Still, the fire that raged between them had them returning to one another time and time again. But the longer she stayed with him, the more liberal he became with his betrayals.
27. He Kept Coming Back To Her
To Moreno’s dismay, Brando married multiple times while still seeing her. They were on and off for years—a vicious seesaw of delightful intimacy and broken hearts. But that wasn’t the worst part. Moreno desperately wanted Brando to marry her, but for some reason, he never wanted to make her his wife. Even so, he never had to worry about losing her because she just kept crawling back…at least for the time being.
28. He Was In For A Surprise
On one occasion, Moreno decided to give Brando a taste of his own medicine. And boy, did it leave a wicked taste in his mouth. When Moreno found some lingerie that clearly did not belong to her, all of her hurt came to a peak and she crumbled. The very next day, however, she got a call that surprised the daylights out of her. Better yet, it was the perfect opportunity for revenge.
29. He Got A Taste Of His Own Medicine
Moreno’s caller was none other than Elvis Presley, and she knew that if there was anyone in the world that could make Brando jealous, it was The King himself. She decided to accept Presley’s advances, but only as a means to an end: She wanted Brando to feel exactly how he made her feel. But Elvis only served her up a generous dollop of disappointment.
30. He Was A Better Kisser Than Elvis
In comparison to Brando, Elvis’s lovemaking was terribly underwhelming. Even as she stared into the musician’s angelic face, she couldn’t help but think of Brando and his kissing expertise. She went so far as to call her time with Presley “amateur night.” Ouch. Still, this clumsy affair managed to get the job done…When Brando found out, all hell broke loose.
31. He Made A Scene
Although Brando had no problem sleeping around, he certainly didn’t like the sting of Moreno’s fling with Elvis. The second his devoted mistress took the plunge with another man, his jealousy came bubbling to the surface. According to Moreno, Brando was so incensed, he even “threw chairs.” Of course, this was payback at its finest, and Moreno delighted in watching her lover squirm, reminiscing fondly—”It was wonderful!”
32. He Was An Addiction
Brando was definitely a challenging man to be in love with, but as it turns out, this was exactly what appealed to Moreno. As toxic as their long-standing affair seemed, her constant fight to win his affection was all a part of her heated addiction to him. The thrill of the chase kept these two at it for years, even as many of Brando’s other relationships completely imploded.
33. He Married The Wrong Woman
In 1956, while still stringing Moreno along, Brando met his first wife, Anna Kashfi. Kashfi was pretty and demure, and on the outside, they seemed like the most ideal couple. Behind closed doors, however, Kashfi and Brando were not a match made in heaven. After only a year and a half of marriage, they accepted the inevitable and called it quits. But their separation didn’t end Brando’s troubles…To his dismay, his clash with Kashfi had only just begun.
34. He Fought For His Son
Although Brando was now a divorcé, there was still one thing that tethered him to his ex-wife—his son, Christian Brando. As Brando and Kashfi continued to butt heads, poor Christian found himself caught in their volatile crossfire. The brutal custody battle that ensued was not won overnight, and by the time Brando finally came out on top, his son was already 13 years old. Of course, as Brando soon learned, being a father was much harder than expected.
35. He Was Fiercely Protective
Brando’s determination to protect his son may have had something to do with the terrible hatred he had for his own father. In fact, Brando fiercely proclaimed this sentiment: “I didn’t want my father to get near Christian. The day he was born I said to myself with tears in my eyes, ‘My father is never going to come near that child because of the damage he has done to me.'” But no matter his good intent, Brando’s career always took him far away from Christian…And sometimes, he just couldn’t protect him.
36. He Was A Disappointing Father
By the time Brando had full custody, his son’s dysfunctional upbringing had already severely affected him. It didn’t help that Brando was almost never around, and instead, hired nannies to raise Christian. In 1972, while he was away filming in France, Brando’s ex-wife took his absence as the perfect opportunity to get her son back…
37. He Lived A Real-Life Nightmare
Anna Kashfi took it upon herself to kidnap Christian from school and shuttle him over the Mexican border. In a deal gone wrong, her friends hid the boy away where nobody could find him. When Brando caught wind of his ex-wife’s scheming and missing son, he hired a slew of private investigators to bring him home. Caught in every father’s worst nightmare, Brando could only sit and wait and hope.
38. He Finally Found Him
To Brando’s relief, the private investigators finally found Christian. But this traumatic experience had definitely taken a toll on the young boy. He’d been found living in a tent, wracked with pneumonia and clearly terrified. But despite Brando’s trying time with his first child, it didn’t stop him from going forth and procreating willy nilly. And when it came to his children, Brando had a lot more fathering still to do.
39. He Didn’t Want Her To Keep The Baby
Amidst the turmoil of his family life, up until 1962, Brando still had Rita Moreno willing to slip in beside him and warm his bed. He was always in her orbit, and she was the one person that never strayed. But as they say—all good things must come to an end. When Moreno discovered she was pregnant with Brando’s child, he quickly arranged for her to have an abortion. Sadly, nothing went as planned, and once again, he had another relationship disaster on his hands.
40. He Had His Priorities Mixed Up
Rita Moreno’s abortion went horribly wrong. The doctors completely botched the job, and soon after the procedure, Moreno started bleeding heavily. She had to be rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery. After this traumatizing ordeal, Moreno was even more horrified when Brando seemed more concerned about the money he’d spent than about her own wellbeing.
41. He Hurt Her Beyond Belief
Shortly after this disturbing episode, Brando dealt his mistress another heartbreaking blow. In 1962, Brando jetted away to film Mutiny on the Bounty, where he met and fell in love Tarita Teriipaia. Still, when he arrived back in Hollywood, it was Moreno he wanted to see. Unbeknownst to Brando, his lover was already at her wit’s end. She was tired of the way Brando treated her. What she did next—shocked him to the core.
42. He Had To End It
Brando was completely blindsided when Moreno tried to take her own life by overdosing on pills. Luckily, his assistant was at the right place at the right time and found her before the pills could take effect. At the hospital, doctors pumped Moreno’s stomach and she lived to tell the tale. But after this extremely close call, one thing became crystal clear—Marlon Brando and Rita Moreno had to end their romance once and for all.
43. He Went To Therapy
As passionate and unforgettable as Brando and Moreno were, a therapist advised both of them to keep away from one another. Together, the two of them were a dangerous cocktail, and both of their sanities were on the line. For the next two years, they made a clean break and never saw one another. But if you think that was the end of Brando and Moreno, think again.
44. He Had One True Bromance
In addition to the many romances he entertained, Brando also had one very close bromance—and it was one of the most unlikeliest friendships ever. Marlon Brando and Wally Cox met when they were only nine years old. Their parents were friends and soon, these two youngsters formed an extremely strong bond. In fact, their friendship lasted until an unforeseen tragedy tore them apart.
45. He Had A Soulmate
As Brando and Cox grew up, their lives somehow moved in tandem with one another. They both moved to New York and they both pursued acting. On the surface, they looked like a mismatched pair, but underneath it all, “they were birds of a feather.” They could talk about anything and everything. They wrestled like kids and went on adventures. But that wasn’t all.
46. He Was Wildly Jealous
Brando was the handsome dramatist and Cox was the goofy comedian, and as such, they each harbored a polite jealousy toward one another. But if anyone was more covetous of the friendship, it was definitely Brando. He saw Cox through three marriages, and every time, Cox’s wives had to come up against his wild possessiveness. Cox’s second wife recalled Brando as “kind of sulky and very rude and I sensed, absolutely, that he was like a brother being jealous of an intruder.”
47. He Broke His Promise
When Wally Cox suddenly passed from a massive heart attack, Brando was inconsolable. When Cox’s wife, Patricia Cox Shapiro, asked him to pick up the ashes from the mortuary, Brando considered it a great honor. He promised to scatter his dear friend’s ashes along one of his favorite hiking trails. But years later, Shapiro discovered that Brando had not kept his promise…
48. He Talked To His Deceased Friend
Imagine Shapiro’s surprise when she read one of Brando’s quotes in Time magazine: “[Wally] was [like] my brother. I can’t tell you how much I miss and love that man. I have Wally’s ashes in my house. I talk to him all the time.” Even after Cox’s passing, Brando still held on to him, communed with him, and grieved for him. This brotherly love never left him, and he defied Shapiro’s wishes in order to hold on to his longest and best friend.
49. He Slept With Everyone
While many speculated that Brando and Cox shared a romantic relationship, most of their friends denied the rumors. However, when it came to sleeping with other men, it wasn’t like Brando wasn’t open and willing. In fact, he was rather ahead of his time for his progressive take on the matter. He felt no guilt in admitting to having romps with both women and men. And some of them were downright spicy.
50. He Had No Shame
Brando acted for a living, but his true happiness undoubtedly lay beneath the sheets. Intimacy was his lifeblood, and he pursued it in all its forms. In 1976, he said, “Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me.”
51. He Was Fluid
Allegedly, Brando’s relations with other men began while he attended military school, where he slept with another cadet. Long after he passed, record producer Quincy Jones came forward and revealed that Brando had had a fling with comedian Richard Pryor. Although this has been subject to debate, one thing remains salient—Brando was a lover to be reckoned with. As Brando’s biographer William Mann wrote, “He was a man utterly at ease with his fluid sexuality, someone who blithely disregarded the binaries of love and gender.”
52. He Took A Risk
After their breakup, Brando and Moreno went on to marry different people. However, after years of keeping his distance, Brando finally deemed it safe to reunite with Moreno since she’d fallen for another man. Although they didn’t rekindle their affair, they certainly started a long-lasting friendship. In 1968, Brando even asked Moreno to star opposite him in The Night of the Following Day. But this was a slippery slope, and as soon as filming began, it became clear that both of them had strong feelings buried just beneath the surface.
53. He Slapped Her Silly
In reminiscing on the troubled shoot, Moreno described how one pivotal scene barely required any “acting.” This was a scene where Moreno had to slap Brando, and heck, she gave it her all and hit him with all her might. Of course, he came right back at her with a heavy hand and slapped her so hard she saw stars. According to Moreno, this moment “opened an old scar.” And that’s when she totally lost it.
54. He Opened Old Wounds
Still whirling from his vicious slap, Moreno started screaming at Brando, losing her mind on camera in a totally unscripted moment. Of course, the director absolutely ate it up and never stopped filming. All that pain and resentment burst through her like a breached dam. It was a moment of catharsis for both of them, and they never forgot it.
55. He Missed Her
Still, despite their tumultuous history, Brando and Moreno kept in touch. For Moreno, she never really stopped loving him. She even wore the same perfume as him—Vent Vert by Balmain. In her autobiography, she confessed that in his final years, Brando sometimes called her, professing how much he still missed her. But it gets even sadder than that.
56. He Had An Awkward Interlude
2003 was the last year Brando and Moreno saw one another. She went to stay with him while working on a project, and when filming wrapped, she was ready to say goodbye. By this time, Brando had lost the trim figure of his youth. In fact, he struggled with obesity. When Moreno leaned in for a kiss, his large body got in the way, making it painfully clear that the days of their explosive affair were long gone.
57. He Was A Binge Eater
Now, Marlon Brando didn’t get so big out of nowhere. He actually grappled with binge eating for years. To many, there were two Brandos: The youthful, dreamy hunk and the older, heavy veteran. While Brando was a heartthrob for much of his career, that doesn’t mean he wasn’t shoveling food into his mouth. And sometimes, he went to extreme lengths just to get his hands on a tasty treat.
58. He Broke The Locks
Brando loved food so much that for a couple of decades, he resorted to crash dieting before showing up to set. It became so intense that at one point, his second wife Movita Castaneda put locks on their refrigerator. She’d been suspecting the household staff of thievery, but of course, it was only Brando. One morning, Castaneda discovered that he’d broken the locks and left his teeth marks in a round of cheese. Still, that wasn’t the worst of it.
59. He Was Insatiable
Brando made the lives of his costume designers a waking nightmare. While shooting 1961’s One-Eyed Jacks, actor Karl Malden said that Brando had a voracious appetite: His dinner included “two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode and a quart of milk.” On multiple occasions, designers altered his costumes or he’d risk splitting his pants.
60. He Was Every Costume Designer’s Worst Nightmare
The costume designer for 1962’s Mutiny on the Bounty claimed that Brando went through no less than 50 pairs of pants, simply by splitting them over and over again. He gorged himself incessantly. But this wasn’t the only excess he enjoyed while filming Mutiny on the Bounty. By this time, Brando was so famous he could pretty much demand anything he wanted.
61. He Indulged In Outrageous Excess
During filming, Brando had planes flown to Tahiti filled with champagne, hams, and turkeys. It was all for the sake of a good party, but it definitely ensured a hefty feast. In fact, Brando loved Tahiti so much that he ending up buying a group of islands called Tetiaroa, and today it’s home to a bougie resort that’s aptly named—you guessed it—The Brando. Unfortunately for Brando, the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty marked the beginning of a rather disappointing decade.
62. He Enjoyed A Golden Decade
For Brando, his golden decade was definitely the 50s. For one, he won accolades some actors only dream of. He scored an Academy Award nomination three years in a row for A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, and Julius Caesar. And then he finally took home gold for best actor in On the Waterfront in 1955. Only, something very odd happened concerning the physical trophy—his Oscar went MIA.
63. He Lost His Oscar
Someone must have stolen Brando’s Oscar without him knowing, because in 1994 his lawyer contacted him with some surprising news: A London auction house was about to auction it off. How they got their hands on it? Nobody had a clue. Even Brando hadn’t realized it was missing in the first place. Of course, after his second Oscar win, it became clear that Brando didn’t take much stock in the award itself…
64. He Made A Comeback
Throughout the 60s, Brando’s career took a sudden nosedive and he starred in a handful of duds. Luckily for him, a great opportunity arose with the beginning of a new decade: In 1972, he screen-tested for the infamous role of Vito Corleone in The Godfather. This was his official comeback, but Brando being Brando, he had some strict stipulations.
65. He Dissed Him…Big Time
Brando refused to play the role of Vito Corleone if Burt Reynolds was cast as Michael Corleone. He threatened to back out altogether because he just couldn’t stand Burt Reynolds. And when it came to criticism, he certainly didn’t hold back. Brando brutally called Reynolds “the epitome of something that makes me want to throw up.” A little harsh. Still, Brando got what he wanted, and in return, he gave the performance of a lifetime.
66. He Stood Up For Indigenous Rights
Brando won his second Academy Award for best actor in The Godfather—a film destined to become a beloved classic. However, he never showed up to the ceremony, and instead, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse his award and make a small speech. Her presence helped raise awareness for the depiction of indigenous peoples in Hollywood, something Brando cared deeply about. In fact, Marlon Brando stood up for equal rights every chance he got, and even participated in the civil rights movement.
67. He Didn’t Come Prepared
Now, all this time, Brando still struggled with binge eating, and as he aged, he found it increasingly difficult to keep the weight off. In 1979, when Brando showed up to set for Apocalypse Now, he weighed close to 300 pounds and hadn’t even read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the short novella the movie is based on, so he didn’t have any idea who his character was. This set the tone for the film, as director Francis Ford Coppola and Brando were at each other’s throats throughout the entire process.
68. He Was A Huge Inconvenience
Unfortunately, Brando’s lack of preparation also extended to his lines. He set everyone back a full week, as Coppola took the time to read the script out loud to the unstudied actor. But once he was finally up to scratch, Coppola had yet another issue to deal with—Brando’s size. After all, his character, Colonel Kurtz, was lean and wiry. They had to come up with a quick solution.
69. He Was Self-Conscious
Brando, too, was self-conscious about his appearance and insisted on wearing black. Coppola agreed to do his part and keep the camera focussed away from Brando’s substantial girth. Surprisingly, these tactics had a phenomenal result. Hiding the actor’s bulk in the shadow ended up adding to the magic of the psychotic villain. While the making of Apocalypse Now was an adventure in itself, this was not Brando’s first time at the rodeo. He was no stranger to ruffling feathers on set.
70. He Had A Rival
One of Brando’s greatest rivals was none other than notorious crooner Frank Sinatra, and their beef began all the way back in 1954. After Brando turned down the lead role in On the Waterfront, Frank Sinatra became his replacement. He didn’t get to keep the role though: The second Brando changed his mind, he lost his opportunity. You can bet that Sinatra was not pleased about this little game of switcheroo.
71. His Costar Loathed Him
See, Sinatra could really hold a grudge, and he even reverted to infantile name-calling to get his point across. From then on, he referred to Brando as “mumbles” and called his acting techniques “that Method crap.” However, this became a big problem once these two hotheads were cast together in 1955’s Guys and Dolls. It was a recipe for disaster.
72. He Got Sweet Revenge
Aware of Sinatra’s animosity, Brando purposely worked to get under the crooner’s skin, and would intentionally mess up scenes because he knew it would get to Sinatra. During the film’s famed cheesecake scene, Brando reportedly screwed the scene up nine times, making Sinatra eat nine pieces of cheesecake. Eventually, Ol’ Blue Eyes erupted at the director, shouting “How much cheesecake do you think I can eat?” However, cheesecake was nothing compared to some of the punches Brando actually pulled.
73. He Decked A Paparazzo
One day, paparazzo Ron Galella followed Brando so closely that the actor turned around and punched him in the face so hard—he broke his jaw. Although Brando paid for his outburst with $40,000 and an infected hand, his message certainly got across. The next time Galella showed up to photograph the volatile actor, he made sure to wear a helmet. Brando undoubtedly had hidden and seen aggressions, but he never counted on having to deal with his own children’s irrational choices…
74. He Had A Dangerous Son
In 1990, an inexplicable tragedy befell Brando’s family. In a drunken rage, Brando’s son, Christian, shot his sister Cheyenne Brando’s partner…right in the middle of Marlon Brando’s living room. But how did this bloodbath even happen? Earlier that night, Christian and Cheyenne went to dinner, where she confessed that her boyfriend, Dag Drollet, had been beating her.
75. He Had A Dysfunctional Family
Apparently, as a protective brother, Christian had only wanted to scare Drollet, but the confrontation ended in a deadly skirmish. As they fought over the weapon, it unexpectedly went off and fatally injured Drollet. To Christian’s horror, he found out later that Cheyenne may have been lying about Drollet’s mistreatment of her. Her mental health was in the pits, and once the trials began, it only got worse. Brando, however, had no choice but to stand by his son.
76. He Begged For Mercy
Marlon Brando took the stand at a Santa Monica courthouse and did his best to secure a reduced sentence for his son, even admitting some of his own shortcomings by saying, “I think that perhaps I failed as a father.” In the end, Christian plead guilty and faced five years behind bars. Still, when it came to losing his children, Brando’s nightmare had only just begun.
77. He Lost His Daughter
To his utter dismay, Brando’s daughter Cheyenne never lived to see her brother’s freedom. After losing the custody battle for her son, she completely fell apart. That, combined with her faltering mental stability (and perhaps a guilty conscience), drove her to an extreme decision. She passed by suicide—hanging herself at her mother’s house. For Brando, the loss of his daughter tore him apart.
78. He Fizzled Out
Nearing the end of his career, Brando’s heartbreaking family life—not to mention his workplace antics and appearance—became more infamous than the performances he gave. By the time the 2000s hit, his health rapidly declined. However, he did make one unlikely friend—a friend that helped make his final years as peaceful as they could possibly be.
79. He Was Friend With A Pop Legend
Brando was close with Michael Jackson, and even got his son Miko a job as Jackson’s bodyguard for years. He also spent a good amount of time at Neverland Ranch, as he enjoyed the luxurious 24-hour service available at the entire compound. Reportedly, the very last time he left his Hollywood bungalow was to go for a visit at the Ranch.
80. He Faded Away
In 2004, Brando had illnesses galore: diabetes, liver cancer, and congestive heart failure. He had to wear an oxygen mask, but soon doctors recommended that oxygen tubes be inserted into his lungs. They told him that without this procedure, he wouldn’t last long. Brando—stubborn or perhaps resigned to his fate—refused, and on July 1, 2004, he passed.
81. He Loved His Best Friend Most
Remember how Brando held on to his best friend Wally Cox’s ashes? Well, after he passed, his family reunited his ashes with both Cox’s and Sam Gilman’s—two of his closest friends. Together, they were scattered to the winds in both Tahiti and Death Valley. This was a most fitting end for Brando and one of the greatest loves of his life. As he once said, “If Wally had been a woman, I would have married him and we would have lived happily ever after.”