Brando: Kashfi paid $10,000 in a scheme to have their son, Christian, kidnapped while Brando was filming “Last Tango In Paris”


Film and theater aficionados have long been enthralled by Marlon Brando, the brooding genius many argue was the greatest actor of our times, and that appreciation shows little signs of fading.

In real life, Brando was the underdog, the product of an unhappy family life with a bad boy image. He challenged authority, declined to play by the rules, and defied expectations. He could be difficult, to say the least.

He had his demons, his professional failures, and his personal tragedies. He was reclusive and mysterious, although he did let the public have a glimpse of his private life when he penned his autobiography “Songs My Mother Taught Me” in 1994.

Through it all was his incomparable acting talent, playing damaged, tortured souls like the raging Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire” and brawler Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront.” Who hasn’t found themselves repeating Kowalski’s calls for “Stella!” and Molloy’s claim that “I coulda been a contender?”

Brando was firmly in the public eye for decades, his every move devoured by fans and recorded by the media. But there’s always more to learn about the star, so Stacker compiled a list of 25 facts from Brando’s life story that you may not know. To put together the list, Stacker consulted newspaper articles, magazine accounts, biographies, film archives, film recordings, reviews, and fan websites.

The actor had two older sisters, Jocelyn and Frances. Frances Brando became an artist, and Jocelyn Brando became an actress, performing on Broadway in Eugene O’Neill’s “Desire Under the Elms” and “Mourning Becomes Electra.” She appeared in the movies “The Big Heat” and “Mommie Dearest,” had roles on television’s “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” and “Little House on the Prairie,” and was a recurring character on the hit show “Dallas.”

In New York, Brando enrolled in the Lee Strasberg Actors Studio, where he studied under the famed teacher Stella Adler, who taught acting techniques that drew on emotional memory. She took him under her wing and became his mentor.

On Broadway, Brando’s first major role was in the 1944 play “I Remember Mama.” His breakout role came three years later as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams’ play “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Brando turned down Hollywood screen tests because he did not want to get stuck in a long-term film contract.

In 1951, Brando reprised his role of Stanley Kowalski for the movie version of “A Streetcar Named Desire” with director Elia Kazan. It earned him his first Academy Award nomination. He went on to star in “Viva Zapata!” in 1952, earning a second Academy Award nomination, then played Marc Antony in “Julius Caesar” in 1953, earning his third straight Academy Award nomination.

One of Brando’s most iconic roles came in 1955 in “On the Waterfront,” playing former fighter Terry Malloy. A famous scene in which Brando picks up a glove dropped by co-star Eva Marie Saint and puts it on his own hand was improvised in rehearsal, and director Elia Kazan kept it for the filming. The role won Brando his first Academy Award.

Brando’s first wife was Indian actress Anna Kashfi, whom he married in 1957. They divorced after two years. In a long custody battle, Kashfi paid $10,000 in a scheme to have their son, Christian, kidnapped while Brando was filming “Last Tango In Paris in France in 1972.

Moving to the other side of the camera, Brando directed one movie—”One-Eyed Jacks” in 1961—with himself and Karl Malden in major roles. It was a financial failure, costing $6 million to make.

n the 1960s, Brando made a series of failed movies, including “The Ugly American” in 1963, “Bedtime Story” in 1964, and “The Chase” in 1966, also starring Jane Fonda and Robert Redford and directed by Arthur Penn. “The Chase” was panned by critics, but others have said since that Brando’s performance was underrated.

After a string of failed movies, Brando made a career comeback playing Don Vito Corleone in “The Godfather” in 1972. Hollywood studio executives were not thrilled at hiring the difficult actor, but director Francis Ford Coppola had Brando take a screen test

that so impressed them that they changed their thinking.

Winning the Academy Award in 1973 for “The Godfather,” Brando sent a woman clad in Apache dress named Sacheen Littlefeather to turn down the award on his behalf. “He very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award,” she said, citing “the treatment of American Indians today” by the film and television industry.

In 1972, Brando appeared in the X-rated “Last Tango in Paris.” Following its release, Brando, co-star Maria Schneider, director Bernardo Bertolucci, and producer Alberto Grimaldi were charged in Italy with making pornography but were cleared.

[Pictured: Marlon Brando, Bernardo Bertolucci and Maria Schneider during filming of “The Last Tango in Paris” in 1973.


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