48 Interesting Facts About Marlon Brando


Marlon Brando, a legend of more than 50 years on the screen with his presence in the film such as “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “The Godfather,” was an American actor, film director, and activist. Here are 48 facts about the actor:

  1. Marlon Brando, Jr., is one of the greatest and most influential actors, who brought gripping realism in his acting.
  2. He was born on April 03, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska. He had two older siblings, Jocelyn Brando and Frances.
  3. He is of German, Dutch, Irish and English descendent. His father Marlon Brando Sr. is a pesticide and chemical manufacturer and his mother Dorathy Julia Brando was theatre administrator.
  4. His mother was unconventional and alcoholic. His father distended himself and never believed in him. His parents were separated when he was 11 years and reconciled in 1937 to be united.
  5. He was nicknamed ‘Bud’ and was very good at mimicking other kids from his youth. According to his childhood friend George Englund, Brando imitated cows and horses in his farm to keep his mother off drinks.
  6. Brando did his schooling at Libertyville High School before being expelled for indiscipline. He joined Shattuck Military Academy and excelled in both theatre and academic. He dropped out during the final year after being put on probation for insubordination.
  7. He tried his hands on couple of jobs such as ditch digger and as usher in the Liberty theatre. He also tried enlisting in the army but for his trick knee.
  8. He was 18 years old, when he took to acting because he was accepted as an actor. He joined the New School, studying at the American Theatre Wing Professional School from German director Erwin Piscator.
  9. He joined Stella Adler Studio of Acting in New York City and learned technique of Stanislavski System. He was also influenced by Elia Kazan’s teaching.
  10. He tried his acting skill in the Summer Stock roles in Sayville, New York, before landing a role of a son in the “O Mistress Mine” at the Broadway. He was voted as the Most Promising Young Actor by the New York Drama Critics, for his of portrayal of a veteran in the Truckline Café.
  11. He was a responsible person and friend of Jewish people. In 1946 he appeared as a young hero in the political drama “A Flag is Born.” He donated all his proceeds from the play to Zionist political group for the Jewish cause.
  12. He was cast in the 1947 play “A Street Car Named Desire” in the role of Stanley Kowalski directed by Tennessee Williams. Brando had based his portrayal of Kowalski on the boxer Rocky Graziano.
  13. In 1950 he bagged his first screen role as a paraplegic veteran in “The Men.” He was so vividly real in his role as Ken for which he spent a month in Birmingham Army hospital in Van Nuys.
  14. His draft status was changed from 4-A to 1-A because of surgery on trick Knee and was not possible for him to be excluded from the draft. He avoided military service by declaring himself as psychoneurotic.
  15. Brando never took to memorizing the lines, instead he used cue card. According to him it helped to bring realism and spontaneity to his performance. Some thought otherwise.
  16. The play “A Streetcar Named Desire” was brought to screen in 1951. Brando became a sex symbol in Hollywood after his performance in this film. He was nominated for his first Academy Award in the Best Actor category.
  17. In 1952 he portrayed a fictionalized account of the life of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in the movie “Viva Zapata.” Before the picturization, Brando went to the village of Zapata and studied the speech pattern of the people.
  18. The director Elia Kazan of the film “Viva Zapata,” in order to get the desired result in the film, misled Anthony Quinn in believing Brando was unimpressed with his work on Broadway. Many years later both realized the deception.
  19. He received favorable review for his role of Mark Antony in the film “Julius Caesar.” He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor third time in succession. John Gieigud his costar was so impressed with his oratory skill that he offered Brando a full season at the Hammersmith Theatre.
  20. The movie “The Wild One” inspired teen rebellion and made him role model for the rock-and- role generation. After the movie release, the sale of leather jacket and blue jeans skyrocketed. The movie was banned in UK until 1968.

  21. Brando’s final stage appearance was in the “Arms and the Man” in 1953. He agreed to work for Lee Falk’s production for less than $500 per week, when he was offered $10,000 per week on Broadway.
  22. In 1954, he starred in “On the Waterfront,” a film about union violence and corruption on the waterfront. It won eight Academy Awards including the Best Actor for Brando. After its release the AFL-CIO expelled the East Coast Longshoremen’s union for its corrupt practices.
  23. His first six films laid the standard of excellence that would sustain him throughout his career. Although he was the top box office star, his critics felt, he lacked commitment and was half hearted in his approach later in his career.
  24. Contrary to critics remarks his film “Desire” out grossed his other film in 1954, “On the Waterfront.” Despite the effort of director Henry Koster, Brando never took his role seriously.
  25. Brando’s 1955 “Guys and Dolls,” was the first and last musical role film. He admitted that his voice was pretty terrible and the final product heard is result of countless singing takes cut into one.
  26. For the 1956 film “The Teahouse of August Moon,” he spent two months studying the local culture, speech and gesture, for playing the role of Japanese interpreter. It took two hours of make-up to transform his appearance as Asian.
  27. His portrayal of Japanese character Sakini was so convincing, that it was reported that moviegoers demanded their money back as Brando was not seen on the screen.
  28. Brando in partnership with Paramount started his own production company and named it ‘Pennebaker’ as a honor to his mother, who died in 1954. He wanted to develop movies which contained social value that would improve the world. His father was appointed to run it.
  29. Brando’s directorial debut in the movie “One-Eyed Jack,” went over budget and behind schedule. He shot six times the amount of footage normally used for film at that time. His inexperience as editor forced paramount to take control of the film and recut it.
  30. During the making of 1962 film “Mutiny on the Bounty,” Brando’s on-set antics reached pinnacle on this film. He ripped 52 pairs of trousers due to overeating and for the death scene he had women kneel beside him off-camera with his line written on her forehead.
  31. In 1960s critics started reacting when he started signing films beneath his talent. He was disappointed with his career and due to his personal life he found acting as a means to an end financially.
  32. He was looking forward to work under Charlie Chaplin’s direction but it turned out to be disappointment. On the sets of “A Countess from Hong Kong” both did not get along well. Brando felt Chaplin to be sadistic and Chaplin felt working with Brando was impossible.
  33. His role in the movie “Reflection in a Golden Eye” costarring Elizabeth Tailor turned out as the greatest in years. In the scene where Brando gives a speech, he requested the director for retake and portrayed the same act differently after the first take was considered superb performance. Director John Huston was confused as to which take to use.
  34. The film “Burnt” in 1970 as his personal best film. According to him some of the best acting he has ever done is in this film. He also complimented the director Gillo Pontecorvo as the best director next to Kazan.
  35. In early seventies, he was considered unbankable. But the his performance as Vito Corleone, the Don in “The Godfather” put him back on Top Ten Box Office Stars. He won his second Oscar for Best Actor for this film.
  36. Brando refused the Best Actor Award for “The Godfather.” He did not attend the Oscar ceremony, instead sent Sacheen Littlefeather, the American Indian rights activist.

  37. The production company, Paramount Pictures chief Stanley Jaffe laid three conditions for signing-up Brando. He will be paid less than his rate, to take responsibility for delay due to his behavior and undergo screen test. He was signed for low fee of $50,000.
  38. In 1973 he lost his best friend Wally Cox. He was overcome by grief and slept in Cox’s pajamas. He also wrenched the Cox’s ashes from his widow.
  39. In 1978 he played the role of Jor-El in “Superman.” He was paid $3.7 Million for two weeks of work as per his demand. He also filmed a scene for its sequel “Superman II.” But refused permission to use it, for not paying same percentage of pay as earlier.
  40. Despite his overweight, he was cast in the 1979 “Apocalypse Now.” The movie earned critical acclaim and Brando was also praised for his performance. His total appearance in the movie is for only 15 minutes.
  41. Brando announced his retirement from acting with the film “Formula.” For the movie he did his own make-up and played seventy years old chairman of an oil company.
  42. He returned to acting in 1989 with “A Dry White Season” and “The Freshman.” Brando demanded $1 Million for extra week of shooting. When denied he condemned the film in the press and claimed it would be the biggest turkey of all time. Next day he was paid, Brando praised the film.
  43. He has history of weight fluctuation throughout his career. In 1990s he weighed over 136kg and suffered from Type 2 Diabetes.
  44. He was a close friend of Michael Jackson and was a regular visitor to Neverland Range. His son Miko was Jackson’s bodyguard and assistant.
  45. On July 1, 2004, Brando breathed his last. He died of respiratory and heart failure. The cause of his death was withheld for privacy concern.
  46. He was known to have several wives and as many as 17 children. He first married Anna Kashfi in 1957. After divorcing her, he married Movita Castaneda in 1960 only to divorce in 1962. On August 10, 1962 he again married Tarita Teriipaia 18 years younger. Apart from this he had long-term relation with his house maid, Maria Christina Ruiz.
  47. Brando was branded as ‘bad boy’ for his public outburst. He was the rock and roll before anybody knew what rock and roll was.
  48. He participated in African-American civil right movement. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Brando made his commitment to further King’s cause.

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