|Who is it?||Producer|
|Birth Day||April 03, 1924|
|Birth Place||Omaha, Nebraska, United States|
|Age||96 YEARS OLD|
|Died On||July 1, 2004(2004-07-01) (aged 80)\nWestwood, California, U.S.|
|Occupation||Actor, film director, activist|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (175 cm)|
|Spouse(s)||Anna Kashfi (m. 1957; div. 1959) Movita Castaneda (m. 1960; div. 1962) Tarita Teriipaia (m. 1962; div. 1972)|
|Partner(s)||Maria Cristina Ruiz (1988–2001)|
|Children||11; including Christian and Cheyenne|
After I had some success, Lee Strasberg tried to take credit for teaching me how to act. He never taught me anything. He would have claimed credit for the sun and the moon if he believed he could get away with it. He was an ambitious, selfish man who exploited the people who attended the Actors Studio and tried to project himself as an acting oracle and guru. Some people worshipped him, but I never knew why. I sometimes went to the Actors Studio on Saturday mornings because Elia Kazan was teaching, and there were usually a lot of good-looking girls, but Strasberg never taught me acting. Stella (Adler) did—and later Kazan.
Brando was named the fourth greatest male star whose screen debut occurred before or during 1950 by the American Film Institute, and part of TIME magazine's Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. He was also named one of the top 10 "Icons of the Century" by Variety magazine.
Brando was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr. (1895–1965), a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer, and Dorothy Julia (née Pennebaker; 1897–1954). Brando had two older sisters, Jocelyn Brando (1919–2005) and Frances (1922–1994). His ancestry was German, Dutch, English, and Irish. His patrilineal immigrant ancestor, Johann Wilhelm Brandau, arrived in New York in the early 1700s from the Palatinate in Germany. Brando was raised a Christian Scientist.
His mother, known as Dodie, was unconventional for her time; she smoked, wore trousers and drove cars. An Actress herself and even a theatre administrator, she helped Henry Fonda begin his acting career. However, she was an alcoholic and often had to be brought home from Chicago bars by her husband. In his autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me, Brando expressed sadness when writing about his mother: "The anguish that her drinking produced was that she preferred getting drunk to caring for us." Dodie and Brando's father eventually joined Alcoholics Anonymous. Brando harbored far more enmity for his father, stating, "I was his namesake, but nothing I did ever pleased or even interested him. He enjoyed telling me I couldn't do anything right. He had a habit of telling me I would never amount to anything." Brando's parents moved to Evanston, Illinois, when his father's work took him to Chicago, but separated when Brando was 11 years old. His mother took the three children to Santa Ana, California, where they lived with her mother. In 1937, Brando's parents reconciled and moved together to Libertyville, Illinois, a small town north of Chicago. In 1939 and 1941, he worked as an usher at the town's only movie theatre, The Liberty.
He was sent to Shattuck Military Academy, where his father had studied before him. Brando excelled at theatre and did well in the school. In his final year (1943), he was put on probation for being insubordinate to a visiting army colonel during maneuvers. He was confined to his room, but snuck into town and was caught. The faculty voted to expel him, though he was supported by the students, who thought expulsion was too harsh. He was invited back for the following year, but decided instead to drop out of high school. Brando worked as a ditch-digger as a summer job arranged by his father. He tried to enlist in the Army, but his induction physical revealed that a football injury he had sustained at Shattuck had left him with a trick knee. He was Classified 4-F and not inducted.
Brando used his Stanislavski System skills for his first summer stock roles in Sayville, New York, on Long Island. Brando established a pattern of erratic, insubordinate behavior in the few shows he had been in. His behavior had him kicked out of the cast of the New School's production in Sayville, but he was soon afterwards discovered in a locally produced play there. Then, in 1944, he made it to Broadway in the bittersweet drama I Remember Mama, playing the son of Mady Christians. The Lunts wanted Brando to play the role of Alfred Lunt's son in O Mistress Mine, and Lunt even coached him for his audition, but Brando's reading during the audition was so desultory that they couldn't hire him. New York Drama Critics voted him "Most Promising Young Actor" for his role as an anguished veteran in Truckline Café, although the play was a commercial failure. In 1946, he appeared on Broadway as the young hero in the political drama A Flag is Born, refusing to accept wages above the Actors' Equity rate. In that same year, Brando played the role of Marchbanks alongside Katharine Cornell in her production's revival of Candida, one of her signature roles. Cornell also cast him as the Messenger in her production of Jean Anouilh's Antigone that same year. He was also offered the opportunity to portray one of the principal characters in the Broadway premiere of Eugene O'Neill's The Iceman Cometh, but turned the part down after falling asleep while trying to read the massive script and pronouncing the play "ineptly written and poorly constructed".
In 1946, Brando performed in Ben Hecht's Zionist play A Flag is Born. He attended some fundraisers for John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. In August 1963, he participated in the March on Washington along with fellow celebrities Harry Belafonte, James Garner, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster and Sidney Poitier. Along with Paul Newman, Brando also participated in the freedom rides.
In 1947, Brando performed a screen test for an early Warner Brothers script for the novel Rebel Without a Cause (1944), which bore no relation to the film eventually produced in 1955. The screen test is included as an extra in the 2006 DVD release of A Streetcar Named Desire.
Brando was named the fourth greatest male star whose screen debut occurred before or during 1950 by the American Film Institute, and part of TIME magazine's Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century. He was also named one of the top 10 "Icons of the Century" by Variety magazine.
Brando brought his performance as Stanley Kowalski to the screen in Tennessee William's A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The role is regarded as one of Brando's greatest. The reception of Brando's performance was so positive that Brando quickly became a male sex symbol in Hollywood. The role earned him his first Academy Award nomination in the Best Actor category.
He was also nominated the next year for Viva Zapata! (1952), a fictionalized account of the life of Mexican revolutionary Emiliano Zapata. It recounted his peasant upbringing, his rise to power in the early 20th century, and death. The film was directed by Elia Kazan and co-starred Anthony Quinn. In the biopic Marlon Brando: The Wild One, Sam Shaw says, "Secretly, before the picture started, he went to Mexico to the very town where Zapata lived and was born in and it was there that he studied the speech patterns of people, their behavior, movement." Most critics focused on the actor rather than the film, with Time and Newsweek publishing rave reviews.
In 1953, Brando also starred in The Wild One, riding his own Triumph Thunderbird 6T motorcycle. Triumph's importers were ambivalent at the exposure, as the subject matter was rowdy motorcycle gangs taking over a small town. The film was criticized for its perceived gratuitous violence at the time, with Time stating, "The effect of the movie is not to throw light on the public Problem, but to shoot adrenaline through the moviegoer's veins." Brando allegedly did not see eye to eye with the Hungarian Director László Benedek and did not get on with costar Lee Marvin.
Following On the Waterfront, Brando remained a top box office draw, but critics increasingly felt his performances were half-hearted, lacking the intensity and commitment found in his earlier work, especially in his work with Kazan. He portrayed Napoleon in the 1954 film Désirée. According to co-star Jean Simmons, Brando's contract forced him to star in the movie. He put little effort into the role, claiming he didn't like the script, and later dismissed the entire movie as "superficial and dismal". Brando was especially contemptuous of Director Henry Koster.
Brando and Simmons were paired together again in the film adaptation of the musical Guys and Dolls (1955). Guys and Dolls would be Brando's first and last musical role. Time found the picture "false to the original in its feeling", remarking that Brando "sings in a faraway tenor that sometimes tends to be flat." Appearing in Edward Murrow's Person to Person interview in early 1955, he admitted to having problems with his singing voice, which he called "pretty terrible." In the 1965 documentary "Meet Marlon Brando", he revealed that the final product heard in the movie was a result of countless singing takes being cut into one and later joked, "I couldn't hit a note with a baseball bat; some notes I missed by extraordinary margins ... They sewed my words together on one song so tightly that when I mouthed it in front of the camera, I nearly asphyxiated myself". Relations between Brando and costar Frank Sinatra were also frosty, with Stefan Kanfer observing, "The two men were diametrical opposites: Marlon required multiple takes; Frank detested repeating himself." Upon their first meeting Sinatra reportedly scoffed, "Don't give me any of that Actors Studio shit." Brando later famously quipped, "Frank is the kind of guy, when he dies, he's going to heaven and give God a hard time for making him bald." Frank Sinatra famously called Brando "the world's most overrated actor", and referred to him as "mumbles". The film was commercially though not critically successful, costing $5.5 million to make and grossing $13 million.
Brando played Sakini, a Japanese interpreter for the U.S. Army in postwar Japan, in The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956). Pauline Kael was not particularly impressed by the movie, but noted "Marlon Brando starved himself to play the pixie interpreter Sakini, and he looks as if he's enjoying the stunt—talking with a mad accent, grinning boyishly, bending forward, and doing Tricky movements with his legs. He's harmlessly genial (and he is certainly missed when he's offscreen), though the fey, roguish role doesn't allow him to do what he's great at and it's possible that he's less effective in it than a lesser actor might have been." In Sayonara (1957) he appeared as a United States Air Force officer. Newsweek found the film a "dull tale of the meeting of the twain", but it was nevertheless a box office success. According to Stefan Kanfer's biography of the actor, Brando's manager Jay Kanter negotiated a profitable contract with ten percent of the gross going to Brando, which put him in the millionaire category. The movie was controversial due to openly discussing interracial marriage, but proved a great success, earning 10 Academy Award nominations, with Brando being nominated for Best Actor. The film went on to win four Academy Awards. Teahouse and Sayonara were the first in a string of films Brando would strive to make over the next decade which contained socially relevant messages, and he formed a partnership with Paramount to establish his own production company called Pennebaker, its declared purpose to develop films that contained "social value that would improve the world." The name was a tribute in honor of his mother, who had died in 1954. By all accounts, Brando was devastated by her death, with biographer Peter Manso telling A&E's Biography, "She was the one who could give him approval like no one else could and, after his mother died, it seems that Marlon stops caring." Brando appointed his father to run Pennebaker. In the same A&E special, George Englund claims that Brando gave his father the job because "it gave Marlon a chance to take shots at him, to demean and diminish him".
Brando married Actress Anna Kashfi in 1957. Kashfi was born in Calcutta and moved to Wales from India in 1947. She is said to have been the daughter of a Welsh steel worker of Irish descent, william O'Callaghan, who had been superintendent on the Indian State railways. However, in her book, Brando for Breakfast, she claimed that she really is half Indian and that the press incorrectly thought that her stepfather, O'Callaghan, was her biological father. She said that her biological father was Indian and that she was the result of an "unregistered alliance" between her parents. Brando and Kashfi had a son, Christian Brando, on May 11, 1958; they divorced in 1959.
Brando's participation in the civil rights movement actually began well before King's death. In the early 1960s, he contributed thousands of dollars to both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.) and to a scholarship fund established for the children of slain Mississippi N.A.A.C.P. leader Medgar Evers. In 1964 Brando was arrested at a "fish-in" held to protest a broken treaty that had promised Native Americans fishing rights in Puget Sound. By this time, Brando was already involved in films that carried messages about human rights: Sayonara, which addressed interracial romance, and The Ugly American, depicting the conduct of U.S. officials abroad and the deleterious effect on the citizens of foreign countries. For a time, he was also donating money to the Black Panther Party and considered himself a friend of founder Bobby Seale. Brando ended his financial support for the group over his perception of its increasing radicalization, specifically a passage in a Panther pamphlet put out by Eldridge Cleaver advocating indiscriminate violence, "for the Revolution."
Distracted by his personal life and becoming disillusioned with his career, Brando began to view acting as a means to a financial end. Critics protested when he started accepting roles in films many perceived as being beneath his talent, or criticized him for failing to live up to the better roles. Previously only signing short term deals with movie studios, in 1961 Brando uncharacteristically signed a five-picture deal with Universal Studios that would haunt him for the rest of the decade. The Ugly American (1963) was the first of these films. Based on the 1958 novel of the same name that Pennebaker had optioned, the movie, which featured Brando's sister Jocelyn, was rated fairly positively but died at the box office. Brando was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance. All of Brando's other Universal films during this period, including Bedtime Story (1964), The Appaloosa (1966), A Countess from Hong Kong (1967) and The Night of the Following Day (1969), were also critical and commercial flops. Countess in particular was a disappointment for Brando, who had looked forward to working with one of his heroes, Director Charlie Chaplin. The experience turned out to be an unhappy one; Brando was horrified at Chaplin's didactic style of direction and his authoritarian approach. Brando had also appeared in the spy thriller Morituri in 1965; that, too, failed to attract an audience.
Tahitian Actress Tarita Teriipaia, who played Brando's love interest in Mutiny on the Bounty, became his third wife on August 10, 1962. She was 20 years old, 18 years younger than Brando, who was reportedly delighted by her naïveté. Because Teriipaia was a native French speaker, Brando became fluent in the language and gave numerous interviews in French. Teriipaia became the mother of two of his children: Simon Teihotu Brando (born 1963) and Tarita Cheyenne Brando (born 1970). Brando also adopted Teriipaia's daughter, Maimiti Brando (born 1977) and niece, Raiatua Brando (born 1982). Brando and Teriipaia divorced in July 1972.
He was also an Activist against apartheid. In 1964, he favored a boycott of his films in South Africa to prevent them from being shown to a segregated audience. He took part at a 1975 protest rally against American Investments in South Africa and for the release of Nelson Mandela. In 1989, Brando also starred in the film A Dry White Season, based upon André Brink's novel of the same name.
In the aftermath of the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Brando made one of the strongest commitments to furthering King's work. Shortly after King's death, he announced that he was bowing out of the lead role of a major film (The Arrangement) (1969) which was about to begin production in order to devote himself to the civil rights movement. "I felt I'd better go find out where it is; what it is to be black in this country; what this rage is all about," Brando said on the late-night ABC-TV talk show Joey Bishop Show. In A&E's Biography episode on Brando, actor and co-star Martin Sheen states, "I'll never forget the night that Reverend King was shot and I turned on the news and Marlon was walking through Harlem with Mayor Lindsay. And there were snipers and there was a lot of unrest and he kept walking and talking through those neighborhoods with Mayor Lindsay. It was one of the most incredible acts of courage I ever saw, and it meant a lot and did a lot."
Brando cited Burn! (1969) as his personal favorite of the films he had made, writing in his autobiography, "I think I did some of the best acting I've ever done in that picture, but few people came to see it." Brando dedicated a full chapter to the film in his memoir, stating that the Director, Gillo Pontecorvo, was the best Director he had ever worked with next to Kazan and Bernardo Bertolucci. Brando also detailed his clashes with Pontecorvo on the set and how "we nearly killed each other." Loosely based on events in the history of Guadeloupe, the film got a hostile reception from critics. In 1971, Michael Winner directed him in the British horror film The Nightcomers with Stephanie Beacham, Thora Hird, Harry Andrews and Anna Palk. It is a prequel to The Turn of the Screw, which later became the 1961 film The Innocents. Brando's performance earned him a nomination for a Best Actor BAFTA, but the film bombed at the box office.
The filming of Mutiny on the Bounty affected Brando's life in a profound way, as he fell in love with Tahiti and its people. He bought a 12-island atoll, Tetiaroa, and in 1970 hired an award-winning young Los Angeles Architect, Bernard Judge, to build his home and natural village there without despoiling the environment. An environmental laboratory protecting sea birds and turtles was established and student groups were welcomed there for many years. Tragically, the 1983 hurricane destroyed many of the structures including his resort. A hotel using Brando's name, The Brando Resort was officially opened to the public in 2014. Brando was an active ham radio operator, with the call signs KE6PZH and FO5GJ (the latter from his island). He was listed in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) records as Martin Brandeaux to preserve his privacy.
The actor followed The Godfather with Bernardo Bertolucci's 1972 film Last Tango in Paris opposite Maria Schneider, but Brando's highly noted performance threatened to be overshadowed by an uproar over the sexual content of the film. Brando portrays a recent American widower named Paul, who begins an anonymous sexual relationship with a young, betrothed Parisian woman named Jeanne. As with previous films, Brando refused to memorize his lines for many scenes; instead, he wrote his lines on cue cards and posted them around the set for easy reference, leaving Bertolucci with the Problem of keeping them out of the picture frame. The film features several intense, graphic scenes involving Brando, including Paul anally raping Jeanne using butter as a lubricant, which, it was alleged was not consensual, and Paul's angry, emotionally charged final confrontation with the corpse of his dead wife. The controversial movie was a hit, however, and Brando made the list of Top Ten Box Office Stars for the last time. The voting membership of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences again nominated Brando for Best Actor, his seventh nomination. Although Brando won the 1973 New York Film Critics Circle Awards, the actor did not appear at the ceremony or send a representative to pick up the award if he won.
At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, Brando refused to accept the Oscar for his performance in The Godfather. Sacheen Littlefeather represented him at the ceremony. She appeared in full Apache attire and stated that owing to the "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry", Brando would not accept the award. This occurred while the standoff at Wounded Knee was ongoing. The event grabbed the attention of the US and the world media. This was considered a major event and victory for the movement by its supporters and participants.
Brando was known for his tumultuous personal life and his large number of wives, girlfriends and children. He was the father to eleven children, three of whom were adopted. In 1976, he told a French Journalist, "Homosexuality is so much in fashion, it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences, and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me. But if there is someone who is convinced that Jack Nicholson and I are lovers, may they continue to do so. I find it amusing."
In 1977, Brando made a rare television appearance in the miniseries Roots: The Next Generations, portraying George Lincoln Rockwell; he won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his performance. In 1978, he narrated the English version of Raoni, a French-Belgian documentary film directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux and Luiz Carlos Saldanha that focused on the life of Raoni Metuktire and issues surrounding the survival of the indigenous Indian tribes of north central Brazil. Brando portrayed Superman's father Jor-El in the 1978 film Superman. He agreed to the role only on assurance that he would be paid a large sum for what amounted to a small part, that he would not have to read the script beforehand, and that his lines would be displayed somewhere off-camera. It was revealed in a documentary contained in the 2001 DVD release of Superman that he was paid $3.7 million for two weeks of work. Brando also filmed scenes for the movie's sequel, Superman II, but after producers refused to pay him the same percentage he received for the first movie, he denied them permission to use the footage. "I asked for my usual percentage," he recollected in his memoir, "but they refused, and so did I." However, after Brando's death, the footage was reincorporated into the 2006 re-cut of the film, Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut and in the 2006 "loose sequel" Superman Returns, in which both used and unused archive footage of him as Jor-El from the first two Superman films was remastered for a scene in the Fortress of Solitude, and Brando's voice-overs were used throughout the film.
In an interview in Playboy magazine in January 1979, Brando said: "You've seen every single race besmirched, but you never saw an image of the kike because the Jews were ever so watchful for that—and rightly so. They never allowed it to be shown on screen. The Jews have done so much for the world that, I suppose, you get extra disappointed because they didn't pay attention to that." Brando made a similar comment on Larry King Live in April 1996, saying "Hollywood is run by Jews; it is owned by Jews, and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of—of people who are suffering. Because they've exploited—we have seen the—we have seen the nigger and greaseball, we've seen the chink, we've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap, we have seen the wily Filipino, we've seen everything, but we never saw the kike. Because they knew perfectly well, that that is where you draw the wagons around." Larry King, who is Jewish, replied, "When you say—when you say something like that, you are playing right in, though, to anti-Semitic people who say the Jews are—" Brando interrupted: "No, no, because I will be the first one who will appraise the Jews honestly and say 'Thank God for the Jews'." Jay Kanter, Brando's agent, Producer, and friend, defended him in Daily Variety: "Marlon has spoken to me for hours about his fondness for the Jewish people, and he is a well-known supporter of Israel." Similarly, Louie Kemp, in his article for Jewish Journal, wrote: "You might remember him as Don Vito Corleone, Stanley Kowalski or the eerie Col. Walter E. Kurtz in 'Apocalypse Now', but I remember Marlon Brando as a mensch and a personal friend of the Jewish people when they needed it most." In an interview with NBC Today one day after Brando's death, King also defended Brando's comments, saying that they had been blown out of proportion and taken out of context.
After appearing as oil tycoon Adam Steiffel in 1980's The Formula, which was poorly received critically, Brando announced his retirement from acting. However, he returned in 1989 in A Dry White Season, based on André Brink's 1979 anti-apartheid novel. Brando agreed to do the film for free, but fell out with Director Euzhan Palcy over how the film was edited; he even made a rare television appearance in an interview with Connie Chung to voice his disapproval. In his memoir, he maintained that Palcy "had cut the picture so poorly, I thought, that the inherent drama of this conflict was vague at best." Brando received praise for his performance, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor and winning the Best Actor Award at the Tokyo Film Festival. Brando also scored enthusiastic reviews for his caricature of his Vito Corleone role as Carmine Sabatini in 1990's The Freshman. In his original review, Roger Ebert wrote, "There have been a lot of movies where stars have repeated the triumphs of their parts—but has any star ever done it more triumphantly than Marlon Brando does in The Freshman?" Variety also praised Brando's performance as Sabatini and noted, "Marlon Brando's sublime comedy performance elevates The Freshman from screwball comedy to a quirky niche in film history." Brando also starred alongside his friend Johnny Depp in the box office hit Don Juan Demarco (1995) and in Depp's controversial The Brave (1997), which was never released in the United States. Later performances, such as his appearance in Christopher Columbus: The Discovery (1992) (for which he was nominated for a Raspberry as "Worst Supporting Actor"), The Island of Dr. Moreau (in which he won a "Worst Supporting Actor" Raspberry) (1996), and his barely recognizable appearance in Free Money (1998), resulted in some of the worst reviews of his career. However, his last completed film, The Score (2001), was received generally positively. In the film, in which he portrays a fence, he starred with Robert De Niro, who had portrayed Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II. Brando conceived the idea of a novel called Fan-Tan with Director Donald Cammell in 1979, which was not released until 2005.
Brando decided to follow his sisters to New York, studying at the American Theatre Wing Professional School, part of the Dramatic Workshop of the New School, with influential German Director Erwin Piscator. In a 1988 documentary, Marlon Brando: The Wild One, Brando's sister Jocelyn remembered, "He was in a school play and enjoyed it ... So he decided he would go to New York and study acting because that was the only thing he had enjoyed. That was when he was 18." In the A&E Biography episode on Brando, George Englund said Brando fell into acting in New York because "he was accepted there. He wasn't criticized. It was the first time in his life that he heard good things about himself."
Brando had a long-term relationship with his housekeeper Maria Cristina Ruiz, with whom he had three children: Ninna Priscilla Brando (born May 13, 1989), Myles Jonathan Brando (born January 16, 1992), and Timothy Gahan Brando (born January 6, 1994). Brando also adopted Petra Brando-Corval (born 1972), the daughter of his assistant Caroline Barrett and Novelist James Clavell.
Brando's grandson Tuki Brando (born 1990), son of Cheyenne Brando, is a fashion model. His numerous grandchildren also include Michael Brando (born 1988), son of Christian Brando, Prudence Brando and Shane Brando, children of Miko C. Brando, the children of Rebecca Brando, and the three children of Teihotu Brando among others.
In a 1994 interview that can be found on the Academy of Achievement website, Coppola insisted, "The Godfather was a very unappreciated movie when we were making it. They were very unhappy with it. They didn't like the cast. They didn't like the way I was shooting it. I was always on the verge of getting fired." When word of this reached Brando, he threatened to walk off the picture, writing in his memoir, "I strongly believe that Directors are entitled to independence and freedom to realize their vision, though Francis left the characterizations in our hands and we had to figure out what to do." In a 2010 television interview with Larry King, Al Pacino also talked about how Brando's support helped him keep the role of Michael Corleone in the movie—despite the fact Coppola wanted to fire him. Brando was on his best behavior during filming, buoyed by a cast that included Pacino, Robert Duvall, James Caan and Diane Keaton. In the Vanity Fair article "The Godfather Wars", Mark Seals writes, "With the actors, as in the movie, Brando served as the head of the family. He broke the ice by toasting the group with a glass of wine. 'When we were young, Brando was like the godfather of actors,' says Robert Duvall. 'I used to meet with Dustin Hoffman in Cromwell's Drugstore, and if we mentioned his name once, we mentioned it 25 times in a day.' Caan adds, 'The first day we met Brando everybody was in awe.'"
In April 2001, Brando was hospitalized with pneumonia.
He also dabbled with some innovation in his last years. He had several patents issued in his name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, all of which involve a method of tensioning drumheads, in June 2002 – November 2004. (For Example, see U.S. Patent 6,812,392 and its equivalents).
Upon his death in 2004, Brando left an estate valued at $21.6 million. Brando's estate still earned about $9 million in 2005, the year following his death, according to Forbes. That year Brando was named one of the top-earning deceased celebrities in the world by the magazine.
Brando was cremated, and his ashes were put in with those of his childhood friend, Comedian and actor Wally Cox and another longtime friend, Sam Gilman. They were then scattered partly in Tahiti and partly in Death Valley. In 2007, a 165-minute biopic of Brando for Turner Classic Movies, Brando: The Documentary, produced by Mike Medavoy (the executor of Brando's will), was released.
Karl Malden—a fellow actor in A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, and One-Eyed Jacks (the only film directed by Brando)—talks in a documentary accompanying the DVD of A Streetcar Named Desire about a phone call he received from Brando shortly before Brando's death. A distressed Brando told Malden he kept falling over. Malden wanted to come over, but Brando put him off, telling him there was no point. Three weeks later, Brando was dead. Shortly before his death, he had apparently refused permission for tubes carrying oxygen to be inserted into his lungs, which, he was told, was the only way to prolong his life.
In the 2015 documentary Listen to Me Marlon, Brando shared his thoughts on playing a death scene, stating, "That's a tough scene to play. You have to make 'em believe that you are dying ... Try to think of the most intimate moment you've ever had in your life." Brando's favorite actors were Spencer Tracy, John Barrymore, Fredric March, James Cagney and Paul Muni.