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Sunday, 26 May 2013

Marlon Brando

Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer, and Dorothy Julia (née Pennebaker)

Marlon Brando was expelled from two different high schools—the first expulsion was for allegedly riding a motorcycle down the hallway.

Marlon Brando’s mother gave him an odd pet; a racoon he named Russell.

In 1944 Marlon Brando enrolled in Erwin Piscator's Dramatic Workshop at New York's New School, and was mentored by Stella Adler, a member of a famous Yiddish Theatre acting family. Adler helped introduce to the New York stage the "emotional memory" technique of Russian theatrical actor, director and impresario Constantin Stanislavsky, whose motto was "Think of your own experiences and use them truthfully." The results of this meeting between an actor and the teacher preparing him for a life in the theatre would mark a watershed in American acting and culture. 

A 24-year-old Marlon Brando on the set of the Broadway production of A Streetcar Named Desire,

During an acting class, when the students were told to act out "a chicken hearing an air-raid siren," most of the students clucked and flapped their arms in a panic, while Brando stood stock-still, staring up at the ceiling. When asked to explain himself, Brando replied, "I'm a chicken - I don't know what an air-raid siren is." 

Brando made his debut on the boards of Broadway on October 19, 1944, in I Remember Mama. It was a great success. 

Marlon Brando was a fan of Afro-Caribbean music and changed from being a drummer to the congas after becoming enthralled by the music in New York City in the 1940s. 

He befriended the author James Baldwin in 1944 and the two were roommates for a time. They would remain friends for more than 20 years.

Marlon Brando tried to join the army during World War II but was rejected due to a knee injury he had sustained while playing football at Shattuck Military Academy. After he made The Men (1950), the Korean War broke out, and he was ordered by the draft board to report for a physical prior to induction. As his knee was better due to an operation, he initially was reclassified from 4-F to 1-A, but the military again rejected him, this time for mental problems, as he was under psychoanalysis. 

When Tennessee Williams’s A Streetcar Named Desire premiered at a  New York theatre, Marlon Brando took to the stage wearing a bright white capped-sleeve T-shirt. It was the first time it had appeared in public as anything but an undergarment. It was not because of prior stage direction, but because Brando had worn one to rehearsals.

Marlon Brando’s signature was considered so valuable to collectors, that many personal checks he wrote were never cashed because his signature was usually worth more than the amount on the check.

Marlon Brando in The Wild One

Marlon Brando won his first Oscar in 1954 for On The Waterfront. When filming On The Waterfront, Brando had it written into his contract that he could leave at 4pm every day to see his therapist.

One of the innovators of the Method acting technique in American film. Brando didn't like the term "The Method," which quickly became the prominent paradigm taught by such acting gurus as Lee Strasberg at the Actor's Studio. It was this period of 1951-54 that revolutionised American acting, spawning such imitators as James Dean, who modelled his acting and even his lifestyle on his hero Brando, the young Paul Newman, and Steve McQueen. 

The decision to cast Marlon Brando in Guys And Dolls was hotly contested, largely by Frank Sinatra, who wanted the part of Sky Masterson himself. Later in his career, the crooner made Sky's big number "Luck Be A Lady" part of his stage act.

Brando's musical numbers in Guys And Dolls had to be patched together from multiple audio takes - Sinatra's nickname for him was "Mumbles."

Marlon Brando was the first actor to break $1 million threshold for a movie role. He commanded a $1 million salary for his services playing Fletcher Christian in the 1962 film Mutiny On The Bounty.


Brando was notorious for refusing to memorize his lines. For his long speeches in the Godfather and Apocalypse Now, other actors had Brando's lines taped to their bodies. In Superman: The Movie, Brando read his lines off the baby's diaper as he was putting him in the escape pod.

Brando was an activist for many causes, notably the African-American Civil Rights Movement and various Native American movements. In 1973, he famously rejected his Oscar award for The Godfather in a protest over the portrayal of Native Americans in film.

Marlon Brando tithed a tenth of his income to various Black organisations such as, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Brando received more money ($4 million) for his short appearance as Jor-El in Superman (1978) than Christopher Reeve did in the title role. Brando later sued for a percentage of the film's profits.

He loved ice cream. In the 1980s, Brando was routinely spotted at a Beverly Hills ice cream parlor buying five gallon containers of ice cream- which he would eat all himself.

He may be famous for his acting — but it was his bongo drumming hobby that turned Brando into an inventor. In 2002, he created an electronic device that stretches the surface of a drum correctly, so it makes the right sound. The contraption pulls four tension points at the same time, uniformly tightening or slackening the surface at the touch of a button. It has since been used in many drum products.

Sources IMDB, The Daily Mail

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