Marlon Brando may have been a rebel on screen, but he was a family man at heart with 14 children to prove it.
The unloved son
Marlon Brando's biography starts in the small town of Omaha, Nebraska. The boy was named after his father, but at home, he was always called "Bud". The head of the family was a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer.
Dorothy Pennebaker, the mother of the future star, was involved in the acting profession. The woman worked in the local theater, where she frequently appeared on stage, and was even friends with the famous American actor Henry Fonda.
Brando had two older sisters, Jocelyn and Frances. He was the youngest child and the only son of Marlon and Dorothy. According to Marlon's memories, his father was a very strict and even cruel man. He forbade children to show their emotions — both positive and negative.
Hugging in the family was allowed only on birthdays. The only entertainment was playing the piano, which was usually done by his mother. When Bud was six, the family moved to the suburbs of Chicago, where Brando Sr. was offered a job as a manager.
His mother took it the hardest because she could not get a job at the theater in the new place. It is known that the woman abused alcohol, so she started drinking even more often. On the other hand, Brando had a chance to go to the prestigious Lincoln Elementary School.
Being a shy and uptight child, Brando had no friends. Eventually, he managed to make one, who passed on to him the love for theater and film. This friend was Wally Cox, who also became famous in the American film industry.
A few years later, Brando together with his mother and sisters moved to Santa Ana, closer to their grandmother. The reason was that his parents decided to take a break and live separately. At the new school, the boy acted differently. He began to stand out from the other children, wearing bright and provocative clothes, which often got him in trouble with the teachers. But he was not scared to oppose them.
At the same time, Brando was involved in all school plays — most often he played villains, romantics in love, or dramatic heroes. His talent and acting skills were noticed by the teachers, who started to understand the young actor.
In addition, Brando was a drummer in the school band and also showed excellent sports results. The boy started wrestling, got into athletics, and was the best in doing push-ups. But soon his parents reconciled, and they had to move back to the suburbs in Illinois, where his father was a corporate executive and his mother finally found a job in the theater.
Everyone was convinced that the boy would go on to study theater after high school, and only his father was opposed to Brando's acting career. He insisted that his son went to military school. The young man complied with his father's request but studied without much enthusiasm.
It was during this time, though, that he found another talent — the ability to parody people and imitate their voices. Brando was amazing on stage and he was applauded by both fellow students and teachers, one of whom immediately realized that Bud did not belong in a military school.
English language and literature teacher Earle Wagner was a fan of Brando and his talent. He tried to convince the young man's parents to let him study acting. It should be noted that Brando was deprived of parental love and attention, and his father constantly bullied him.
Perhaps it was in the art that Brando found his salvation, something that he was deprived of in the family. And to confirm it, his father rejected the proposal of Wagner. But the young man disobeyed him and for the first time in his life did what he wanted to do.
Marlon's first project was the film The Men, for which he won the Finnish Jussi Awards as the Best Foreign Actor. The aspiring actor drew the attention of both critics and audiences. Everyone thought that he would have a great future ahead. And they were right.
He had his first big success after the movie A Streetcar Named Desire, an adaptation of the play by Tennessee Williams. He had Vivien Leigh as his co-star. The film was considered one of the greatest in the cinema world, and Marlon himself was recognized as the new sex symbol of the decade. By the way, for his role in this film, he was nominated for the prestigious Academy Award, but he did not get the statuette this time.
However, the actor was not that upset, because his bright future still lay ahead. In 1954, he got the lead role in the movie On the Waterfront, which brought the actor his first Oscar. Although he was really close to missing it, as well as the role. The thing is, originally it was Frank Sinatra who was meant to play Terry Malloy, but producer Sam Spiegel believed that Brando suited the role better.
After lengthy discussions, followed by various scandals, Marlon was approved for the role. But he had to meet Frank more than once in court because he demanded to be paid damages for the breach of contract.
This was not the last time In Brando′s career that he had to fight for the role. In 1972, director Francis Ford Coppola wanted to adapt the book The Godfather by Mario Puzo. The author really wanted the main role to be played by Brando, but the heads of Paramount Pictures were against it. By the time the actor, who from a young age had a violent temper, was known for his unusual on-set behavior.
Frank Sinatra used this opportunity and turned to his mafia friends to intimidate people involved in the creation of The Godfather not to hire Brando. Perhaps he decided to remind a colleague of the mistake he made.
Eventually, Marlon overcame all the obstacles he had along the way and got the role of the famous Don Corleone. The actor did a great job to portray the character on the screen. Brando believed that the character had to "look like a bulldog", so before the audition, he stuffed his cheeks with cotton.
During filming, he used a special mouthpiece, which was made by a dentist. The distinctive way of speaking with a hoarse voice was influenced by real-life gangster Frank Costello. For this work, he got a second Oscar, but refused to accept it, and did not even attend the ceremony.
Brando sent an Apache girl, Sacheen Littlefeather, in his place who took the stage instead of the actor and read out his letter in support of his fellow American Indians. Marlon had always resented the fact that Native Americans were played by white people. That was his way to support members of this ethnic group.
In the same year, Brando starred in the erotic drama Last Tango in Paris, for which he was also nominated for Oscar. However, both he and his co-star Maria Schneider were not satisfied with the end result. Although, it is worth noting that Marlon improvised a lot so that the film's plot was improved over the original script.
Marlon Brando's personal life is no less interesting than his work since he was always the ladies' man. Marlon Brando in his youth even dated Marilyn Monroe, but their affair was brief.
The actor first married colleague Anna Kashfi, who gave birth to his first son Christian. The spouses separated after two years, and, according to rumors, the reason for that was another love of the artist. However, Marlon was single for a short time and a few months later married a Mexican girl Movita Castaneda, from whom he had a son Miko and a daughter Rebecca.
But this marriage lasted only two years, and soon after the separation, Brando married young Tarita Teriipaia, whom he met on the set of the movie Mutiny on the Bounty. The girl was 18 years younger than her husband. Despite the fact that Marlon himself endured abuse from his father, he was the same with his family.
It was rumored that he forced his last wife to make an abortion several times, and also did everything to ensure that she no longer starred in movies. By the way, this union was the longest — Marlon and Tarita lived together for ten years. They had two children, a son Simon Teihotu and daughter Cheyenne. In addition, the actor adopted his wife's eldest daughter, born in a previous relationship.
After his divorce from Tarita, the actor never married again, but this does not mean that there were fewer women in his life. For many years, Brando had a relationship with his housekeeper Maria Cristina Ruiz, who bore him three kids. Officially, Marlon recognized 14 children, including adopted ones, but it is believed that he has many more.
Incidentally, some of the artist's offsprings suffered a sad fate. The eldest Christian decided to sort things out with the boyfriend of his half-sister Cheyenne. The girl complained to her brother that her partner was beating her, while she was eight months pregnant at the time.
Christian, being drunk, went to confront his sister’s assailant and accidentally shot him during the fight. He was sentenced to ten years in prison and Cheyenne later confessed that she had slandered her lover. After the incident, she tried to end her life, but she was rescued in time.
Cheyenne was diagnosed with schizophrenia and ended up committing suicide years later. Christian was released from prison, lived another three years, and then died of pneumonia.
Illness and Death
In the last years of his life, Marlon was seriously ill. In the late 90s, he weighed 300 lb (136 kg) and no longer looked like that Hollywood ladykiller that everyone was crazy about. He also suffered from diabetes and heart failure.
Many believed that the actor had stopped taking care of himself after his son's sentence and the death of his daughter. The actor was increasingly tormented by thoughts that he was never a good father to his many children. In addition, by the end of his life, Marlon was disappointed in the acting profession and in several interviews stated that shooting a movie is a waste of time.
On July 1 2004 80-year-old Brando passed away in the hospital where he was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. The actor's body was cremated and his ashes were scattered over the island of Tahiti. It was here that he met his third wife, to whom, shortly before his death, he confessed his feelings.
According to Tarita Teriipaia, he called her the love of his life. By the way, since 1973, Marlon Brando kept the urn with the ashes of his best childhood friend Wally Cox, the very one who introduced him to the world of cinema. The actor stated in his will that his ashes should be put in with those of Wally Cox and scattered together.