Marlon Brando Biography

Marlon Brando, the iconic American actor, is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time. Known as the main male sex symbol in Hollywood during the mid-1950s, Brando captivated audiences worldwide with his striking looks and immense talent. His portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in the acclaimed film ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ solidified his status as a leading man and earned him an Academy Award nomination. Brando’s exceptional performance as Terry Malloy in ‘On the Waterfront’ later garnered him an Academy Award, further establishing his reputation as one of Hollywood’s finest. Beyond his acting prowess, Brando was also an activist, supporting various causes such as the African-American Civil Rights Movement and American Indian Movements. Despite his reputation as a “Bad Boy” due to his indulgent lifestyle and public outbursts, Brando remained beloved by audiences for his charm and undeniable appeal.

Quick Facts

  • Nick Name: Bud, Mr Mumbles
  • Girlfriend: Christina Maria Ruiz, Rita Moreno
  • Also Known As: Marlon Ernest Brando Jr.
  • Died At Age: 80
  • Family:
    • Spouse/Ex-: Tarita Teriipaia (m. 1962–1972), Anna Kashfi (m. 1957–1959), Movita Castaneda (m. 1960–1962)
    • Father: Marlon Brando Sr.
    • Mother: Dodie Brando
    • Siblings: Frances Brando, Jocelyn Brando
    • Children: Cheyenne Brando, Christian Brando, Dylan Brando, Maimiti Brando, Miko Castaneda Brando, Ninna Priscilla Brando, Raiatua Brando, Rebecca Brando, Simon Teihotu Brando, Stephen Blackehart
  • Born Country: United States
  • Actors
  • Height: 5’9″ (175 cm), 5’9″ Males
  • Died on: July 1, 2004
  • Place of death: Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Ancestry: Dutch American, Irish American
  • Notable Alumni: Stella Adler Studio Of Acting
  • Diseases & Disabilities: Pulmonary Fibrosis, Congestive Heart Disease
  • Cause of Death: Respiratory Failure
  • U.S. State: Nebraska
  • City: Omaha, Nebraska
  • More Facts
  • Education: Stella Adler Studio Of Acting

Childhood & Early Life

Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924 in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando, Sr., and his wife Dorothy Julia. His father was a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer while his mother was an actress. He had two older sisters.

He had an unhappy childhood as both his parents were alcoholics who never cared about the children. His father was very abusive and had the habit of telling the young boy that he would never amount to anything. His parents eventually separated and he went to live with his mother in California. Later he moved to Chicago after his parents reconciled.

His sister Jocelyn Brando went to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Art in New York City. She recognized Marlon’s potential as a future actor and encouraged him to pursue acting as a profession.

On his sister’s advice he moved to New York to study with the acclaimed acting coaches Stella Adler and at Lee Strasberg’s Actors’ Studio. Adler was his chief mentor, and he was highly inspired by her. He often credited her for the major role she played in his becoming a successful actor.


Marlon Brando started out as a stage actor and received much appreciation for his portrayal of the arrogant and cruel Stanley Kowalski in the 1947 play, ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. After tasting success on the stage he soon moved to films.

He made his film debut in 1950 by appearing in the movie ‘The Men’ in which he played a bitter paraplegic veteran. The next year, he reprised the role of Stanley Kowalski in the film adaptation of ’A Streetcar Named Desire’, and was much appreciated for this performance.

Over the next few years he appeared in many successful movies including ‘Viva Zapata! ‘(1952), ‘On the Waterfront’ (1954), ‘Guys and Dolls’ (1955), and ‘The Young Lions’ (1958). During the mid-1950s, Brando was one of the biggest stars in Hollywood.

In spite of being a major star in the 1950s, his popularity began to decline in the 1960s. By this time he became notorious for his excessive indulgence in food, on-set tantrums, and constant womanizing. His much anticipated movie, ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ (1962) proved to be a box office flop and he failed to give even one major hit in the decade.

His declining career saw a revival in the 1970s. In 1972, he played the role of Don Vito Corleone in the crime film, ‘The Godfather’. His brilliant performance in the movie resurrected his failing career and re-established him as one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. He won many awards and nominations for the movie.

He appeared as oil tycoon Adam Steiffel in ‘The Formula’ in 1980. Following this, he announced his retirement from acting.

Major Works

His portrayal of Terry Malloy in the crime drama film ‘On the Waterfront’ is undoubtedly one of his best performances. He played the role of a dockworker whose life is deeply affected by the widespread corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Marlon Brando also received much acclaim for his role in the crime film ‘The Godfather’, in which he played the leader of a fictional New York crime family. The movie is regarded as one of the greatest films in world cinema.

Awards & Achievements

In 1954, he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in ‘On the Waterfront’. He also won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama for the same role.

He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1972 for ‘The Godfather’. However, he refused to accept the award citing that he objected to the manner in which American Indians were depicted by Hollywood and television.

Personal Life & Legacy

Marlon Brando’s personal life was highly controversial. He was known to be a womanizer and had been involved with several women and fathered numerous children. He had also been married multiple times.

He married actress Anna Kashfi in 1957 with whom he had a son. The marriage ended in divorce.

In 1960, he married Movita Castaneda, a Mexican-American actress. They had two children, and this marriage too did not last long.

His third wife was Tarita Teriipaia whom he married in 1962. This marriage produced two biological children, and he also adopted his wife’s daughter and niece. Tarita and he also divorced.

In addition to his wives, he was involved with several other women. His long-term relationship with his housekeeper Maria Christina Ruiz, resulted in the birth of three more children. He also had children from his other love affairs.

In his last years Marlon Brando had several health concerns. He suffered from diabetes and liver cancer. As a result of diabetes, his eyesight was also adversely affected.

Marlon Brando died of respiratory failure from pulmonary fibrosis with congestive heart failure on July 1, 2004. He was 80.

Leave a Comment