1924-04-03

MARLON BRANDO, American actor (d. 2004); Academy award-winning American actor whose body of work spanned over half a century. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential actors of all time. 

Brando is best known for his roles as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire and Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront, both directed by Elia Kazan in the early 1950s, but mostly for his Academy-Award winning performance as Vito Corleone in The Godfather. He also portrayed Colonel Walter Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, the latter two directed by Francis Ford Coppola in the 1970s. Brando was also an activist, lending his presence to many issues, including the American Civil Rights and American Indian Movements. He was named the fourth Greatest Male Start of All-Time by the American Film Institute.

Brando’s sexuality has been a matter of debate. Not only did he have numerous affairs with women (such as actress  Rita Moreno, who reportedly attempted suicide after they broke up), but he is also alleged to have had sex with men.

In his 1976 biography The Only Contender by Gary Carey, Brando was quoted as saying, “Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed.”

An alleged long-time lover was fellow actor Wally Cox, who was also his best friend since their childhood days. Brando is quoted as saying: “If Wally had been a woman, I would have married him and we would have lived happily ever after.”

After Cox died, Brando kept his ashes for thirty years; they were eventually scattered with his own. Cox’s third wife only discovered he possessed them after reading an interview in Time where Brando is quoted as saying: “I have Wally’s ashes in my house. I talk to him all the time.” She wanted to sue, but her lawyers would not accept the case. Another alleged lover was the French actor Christian Marquand, whom Brando named his son after.

During the filming of A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), in the garden of Vivien Leigh’s mansion, David Niven discovered Brando and Laurence Olivier swimming in the pool. Olivier was kissing Brando. “I turned my back to them and went back inside to join Vivien. I’m sure she knew what was going on, but she made no mention of it. Nor did I. One must be sophisticated about such matters in life.”

A recent biography Brando Unzipped, by Darwin Porter, (2006) details alleged affairs with Cary Grant, Rock Hudson and Stewart Grainger. The book also features an alleged picture of Brando performing fellatio on a male lover. The validity of the photograph has yet to be substantiated.