A celebrity who set the standard for public silence, Marlon Brando has still generated reams of press over the years. Here are a few milestones along the way.
1954 Because he hates his role, Brando fails to show up on the Twentieth Century Fox set of The Egyptian, instead visiting a New York psychiatrist who telegrams the studio that the actor is too upset to work. Fox files a $2 million suit, but Brando — already a three-time Oscar nominee for A Streetcar Named Desire, Viva Zapata!, and Julius Caesar — appeases the studio by taking the role of Napoleon in Desire.
1957 Brando marries his first wife, actress Anna Kashfi, but trouble begins soon afterward, when Brando discovers that she had lied about being Indian (she was British). Divorce comes in 1959; the custody battle for son Christian, replete with kidnappings, will rage for 16 years.
1960 Marries his second wife, Mexican actress Movita, who bears him a son, Miko. The marriage falls apart within a year, though their divorce isn’t made official until 1968.
1962 Mutiny on the Bounty is a critical and financial flop, but Brando falls in love with his on-screen love interest, 19-year-old Tarita Teriipia. They have two children, Teihotu and Cheyenne.
1965 While filming The Appaloosa, Brando insists on doing the picture made up as a Mexican. Director Sidney J. Furie says he thinks Brando looks like Genghis Khan and refuses.
1966 To avoid imminent holocaust (”I’m convinced the world is doomed,” he says), Brando buys Tetiaroa, a circular atoll of 12 islands 30 miles north of Tahiti.
1969 The Oakland Police Officers Association files a $25 million defamation suit against Brando for remarks he made on The Joey Bishop Show about the shooting of a Black Panther. The suit is later dismissed.
1972 Makes Last Tango in Paris and The Godfather in the same year. Hates both. On Tango: ”It was too calculated, designed to make an impact rather than a statement.” On Godfather: ”What the hell did I know about a 65-year-old Italian who smokes twisted goat-shit cigars?”
1973 Sends Sacheen Littlefeather to turn down his Godfather Best Actor Oscar; in her rejection speech, she denounces Hollywood for its treatment of Native Americans. Littlefeather goes on to pose nude for Playboy.
1979 While shooting Apocalypse Now — he’s photographed in heavy shadow to hide his extraordinary weight gain — Brando hangs upside down from palm trees and hurls coconuts at Francis Ford Coppola while discussing the script.
1991 Random House announces it will publish his autobiography in 1993. Brando releases this written statement: ”I intend to disclose all my life and the people in it, from my earliest memory of playing in my moonlit bed with the naked body of my sleeping beloved Ermi (his family housekeeper in Idaho, his mother’s drinking buddy, and his first sexual partner) to this present scribbling in my bed of another day.”
1992 Christina Ruiz, Brando’s former housekeeper and the fourth woman to bear him children, gives birth to his 10th child.