Classic Movie Hub (CMH)
 
 

Job Actor
Years active 1945-2001
Known for Method Acting, rebellious streak, raw animal magnetism and unwavering intensity
Top Roles Lt. Christian Diestl, Sky Masterson, Stanley Kowalski, Rio, Sakini
Top GenresDrama, Film Adaptation, Romance, Comedy, War, Western
Top TopicsBook-Based, Based on Play, Marriage
Top Collaborators , , (Director), (Director)
Shares birthday with Doris Day, Leslie Howard, Allan Dwan  see more..

Marlon Brando Overview:

Legendary actor, Marlon Brando, was born Marlon Brando Jr. on Apr 3, 1924 in Omaha, NE. Brando appeared in over 40 roles. His best known films include A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, On the Waterfront, Guys and Dolls, Sayonara, The Godfather, Superman and Apocalypse Now. Brando died at the age of 80 on Jul 1, 2004 in Los Angeles, CA and was cremated and his ashes scattered in Tahiti and Death Valley.

EARLY YEARS:

Brando, the silver screen's great enigma, was born on April 3, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska. From a young age he took to acting, mimicking those around him, practicing their mannerisms and peculiarities. His rebellious streak started as a child. He was expelled from his high school for riding a motorcycle through the halls, and then was expelled from Shattuck Military Academy for sneaking off campus grounds while on probation. Although invited back the next year, he decided to drop out and took a job as a ditch digger. After his father agreed to further finance his education in the arts, Brando relocated to New York City to study at the Actors Studio. He became a student of Stella Adler, who taught a form of acting commonly called “the method,” otherwise known as the Stanislavski System. The acting style emphasized character motives and inundation. His first play was for a Long Island production in Sayville, New York. In 1944, Brando made his Broadway debut in I Remember Mama. In 1946, he starred as a wayward veteran in the Broadway play Truckline Café. Although the play was a financial failure, critics voted Brando “Broadway's Most Promising Actor.” He would star again on Broadway in the political drama A Flag is Born and a revival of Candida before getting his big break in what was to become his signature role.

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE:

In 1947, Brando starred as brutish Stanley Kowalski in the Tennessee Williams' play A Streetcar Names Desire. Audiences and critics alike were floored by the raw animal magnetism and unwavering intensity Brando brought to the character. The role was immediately seen as groundbreaking, ushering in a new era of acting and a new era of star. Seemingly overnight, Brando became the toast of Broadway and it wasn't long before Hollywood starting calling. Although resisting the initial invites, Brando eventually gave in and went west to Hollywood. His first silver screen role came in the form of an anguished paraplegic veteran in Stanley Kramer's 1950 film The Men. To prepare for the role, Brando spent over a month at a Birmingham Army hospital. Although the film was only a moderate success at the box office, critics everywhere were praising Brando for his performance. In 1951, Brando re-teamed with A Streetcar named Desire director, Elia Kazan, to star in the Hollywood film adaptation opposite Vivien Leigh. Like the stage play, the film was a massive success both at the box office and in the papers. Critics everywhere were tasked with the responsibly of praising Brando's raw and seething performance, and audiences found their new sex symbol. The film would go on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards, as well as acting awards for the film's co-stars Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden and Kim Hunter. Brando received his first Oscar nomination for the role, but did not win. His next film would have him portray Mexican Revolutionary Emiliano Zapata in 1952's Viva Zapatas, earning him a second Oscar nomination in the process. The next year Brando proved himself as a master of his craft, moving into the world of Shakespeare to play Marc Antony in Julius Caesar. The film was Brando's third consecutive Oscar Nomination and only his fourth film.

THE WILD ONE:

In 1954, Brando starred as Johnny Strabler, leader of The Black Rebels Motorcycle Club, in The Wild One. Riding into town with a black leather jacket and devil-may-care attitude, the film forever made Brando a symbol of angst, youth, and rebellion. That same year, Brando gave yet another groundbreaking performance as Terry Mallory in On the Waterfront. His take as the ex-boxer turned longshoreman is considered by many to be his definitive performance, and for that performance he was award his fourth Academy Award nomination and first win. For his next film, Brando would the infamous conqueror Napoleon in Desiree. A role for which he had very little interest, Brando gave no effort and the film was his first box office and critical failure. In 1955, he starred as opposite Frank Sinatra as Sky Masterson in the big screen adaption of Guys and Dolls. The film was to be his first and last musical. In 1956, he starred in The Teahouse of the August Moon. Later that year, he portrayed a United States Air Force officer in Sayonara, a film that sparked controversy due to its open discussion of interracial marriage. The film, however, was a hit, earning ten Academy Award nominations, including a fifth for Brando. For his next role, he would star opposite fellow Actors Studio student, Montgomery Clift in 1958's The Young Lions. His next film, 1960's The Fugitive Kid, was a huge financial disaster and the start of an incredibly turbulent decade for Brando.

THE SIXTIES:

In 1961, Brando made his directorial debut with One Eyed Jack, after two directors, Stanley Kubrick and Sam Peckinpah, quit the project. Although the film made a moderate amount of money at the box office, the film's budget skyrocketed under Brando, thus leaving the film finically in the red. In 1962, Brando starred in the disastrous remake of Mutiny on the Bounty. The film failed to make even half its 19 million dollar budget at the box office and Brando's excesses and ego were beginning to wear at this reputation. He forced the halting of production while waiting on script changes, would throw on-set tantrums, drank too much and distanced himself from cast and crew alike. Brando continued his descent from celluloid grace with roles many considered to be beneath his talent, such as The Ugly American and The Chase. In 1967, he starred in Reflections in a Golden Eye, playing a closeted army man in a sham marriage to his wife, Elizabeth Taylor. As the decade began to wither to end, so did Hollywood's relationship with Brando. Although still viewed as a great actor by the movie-going populace, his self-indulgent behavior and ego had rendered him an unnecessary risk within the walls of Hollywood. And after finishing the decade with films like Candy and Burn! (aka Queimada!), his prospects seemed as grim as ever.

THE SEVENTIES:

By the 1970's, some would believe Brando's career was over. However, the film that changed a generation of filmmakers would also be the film that revived Brando's faulting career. In 1972, Brando began the next phase of his career with Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather. In the film, Brando played “Don” Vito Corleone, the aging patriarch of a powerful mafia family. His performance was the best he had given in decades, winning him his second Academy Award. However, Brando continued to breed controversy when he boycotted the Oscar Ceremony and instead sent Indigenous American Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather in his place to speak of his objections to the representation of Indigenous Americans in Hollywood. More controversy was stirred by his next film, 1973's Last Tango in Paris. The film, by Italian Director Bernardo Bertolucci, focused on the sexual liaisons of an older American widower and a young French woman. Although the film received high critical acclaim for its masterful depiction of erotica and the performance of its principle actors, the film received a X-rating, causing its ban in many areas around the world. It would take 3 years before Brando would appear on screen again, this time opposite Jack Nicholson in The Missouri Breaks.

LATER CAREER:

By this time, Brando began stating that he was acting for only money, taking whatever part came his way if the price was right. He received 3.7 million dollars for what became a glorified cameo as Jor-El in the highly commercial Superman. In 1979, he had a short but power appearance in Coppola's, Apocalypse Now, choosing to buck the script and create his own dialog on the spot. For his week of work, Brando received 1 million dollars. He appeared one more time on the silver screen in The Formula before going into self-imposed exile, gaining girth and wealth on his pacific island getaway. He would return to Hollywood on his own time, a decade later to co-star in the anti-Apartheid film, A Dry White Season. The film was of political interest to him and for this work he received an Academy Award nomination. In 1990, Brando's personal life suffered a great tragedy when his son, Christian, was found guilty of murdering his sister's partner. The trial came at great financial cost to Brando, who was then forced to return to acting with less favorable roles in films such as Christopher Columbus: The Discovery and Don Juan DeMarco. In 1996, Brando co-starred in The Island of Dr. Moreau. The film was poorly received and was perhaps the worst received performance of Brando's career. His next film, Johnny Depp's directorial debut, The Brave, was far better received.

LAST YEARS:

Brando's final film came was the 2001 ensemble heist flick, The Score. Three years later, on July 1, 2004, Brando passed away of respiratory failure from pulmonary fibrosis with congestive heart failure at the UCLA Medical Center. He was 80 years old.

(Source: article by Minoo Allen for Classic Movie Hub).

HONORS and AWARDS:

.

Marlon Brando was nominated for eight Academy Awards, winning two for Best Actor for On the Waterfront (as Terry Malloy) and The Godfather (as Don Vito Corleone) in 1954 and 1972 respectively.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1951Best ActorA Streetcar Named Desire (1951)Stanley KowalskiNominated
1952Best ActorViva Zapata! (1952)Emiliano ZapataNominated
1953Best ActorJulius Caesar (1953)Marc AntonyNominated
1954Best ActorOn the Waterfront (1954)Terry MalloyWon
1957Best ActorSayonara (1957)Major Lloyd GruverNominated
1972Best ActorThe Godfather (1972)Don Vito CorleoneWon
1973Best ActorLast Tango in Paris (1972)PaulNominated
1989Best Supporting ActorA Dry White Season (1989)McKenzieNominated
.

He was honored with one star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the category of Motion Pictures. He appears on the cover of The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album.

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Marlon Brando Quotes:

Charlie: You're getting on. You're pushing 30. You know, it's time to think about getting some ambition.
Terry: I always figured I'd live a bit longer without it.


Sir William Walker: Gentlemen, let me ask you a question. Now, my metaphor may seem a trifle impertinent, but I think it's very much to the point. Which do you prefer - or should I say, which do you find more convenient - a wife, or one of these mulatto girls? No, no, please don't misunderstand: I am talking strictly in terms of economics. What is the cost of the product? What is the product yield? The product, in this case, being love - uh, purely physical love, since sentiments obviously play no part in economics.
[general laughter]
Sir William Walker: Quite. Now, a wife must be provided with a home, with food, with dresses, with medical attention, etc, etc. You're obliged to keep her a whole lifetime even when she's grown old and perhaps a trifle unproductive. And then, of course, if you have the bad luck to survive her, you have to pay for the funeral!
[general laughter]
Sir William Walker: It's true, isn't it? Gentlemen, I know it's amusing, but those are the facts, aren't they? Now with a prostitute, on the other hand, it's quite a different matter, isn't it? You see, there's no need to lodge her or feed her, certainly no need to dress her or to bury her, thank God. She's yours only when you need her, you pay her only for that service, and you pay her by the hour! Which, gentlemen, is more important - and more convenient: a slave or a paid worker?


Johnny: [opening narration] It begins here for me on this road. How the whole mess happened I don't know, but I know it couldn't happen again in a million years. Maybe I could of stopped it early, but once the trouble was on its way, I was just goin' with it. Mostly I remember the girl. I can't explain it - a sad chick like that, but somethin' changed in me. She got to me, but that's later anyway. This is where it begins for me right on this road.


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Marlon Brando Facts
According to co-producer Fred Roos, Brando was scheduled to make a cameo appearance in The Godfather: Part II (1974), specifically in the flashback at the end of the film in which Vito Corleone comes back to his home and is greeted with a surprise birthday party. In fact, he was expected the day of shooting but did not show up due to a salary dispute. According to Francis Ford Coppola, he hadn't been paid for The Godfather (1972) and thus would not appear in the sequel.

In his September 1972 Playboy Magazine interview, director Sam Peckinpah said that a problem with One-Eyed Jacks (1961) is that Brando would not play a villain. Peckinpah had worked on rewriting the script, which was based on the novel "The Authentic Death of Hendry Jones," a re-telling of the Billy the Kid legend. Billy the Kid, according to Peckinpah, was a genuine villain, whereas Brando's character "Rio" was not, thus lessening the dramatic impact of the story. He praised Brando for his acting comeback as Don Corleone in The Godfather (1972), both as the return of a great actor and as an example of Brando's newfound willingness to shuck off his old predilection and actually play a villain.

Turned down the role of Vulcan in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988). Director Terry Gilliam was summoned to Brando's Mulholland Dr. home in Los Angeles to discuss the part, but it became apparent that Brando really wasn't interested in taking the part. Nonetheless, Gilliam treasured the time he got to spend with Brando. The part later was played by Oliver Reed, who spent his time drinking and trying to seduce Uma Thurman, who was a virgin at the time.

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