Brando: Humanist turned Mega Star
By Harinda Vidanage
In post Second World War Hollywood must’ve thirsted for new
energy; looking for an opening into a new Era in acting. Hollywood
needed fresh talent and change. It is not easy to bewilder Hollywood,
especially in those days. Only one man could’ve done that
Marlon Brando. Who would have guessed, then, that Marlon Brando
would eventually revolutionize film acting. Marlon Brando had the
mega talent an allure to take over Hollywood and bring in a new
breed of an acting style.
it comes to Brando performances, icons abound. There was the 1950s
motorcycle rebel from “The Wild One” (1954), or the
brutal Stanley Kowalski in “A Streetcar Named Desire”
(1951) or Terry “I Coulda Been a Contender” Malloy in
“On the Waterfront” (1954). or his performance as Vito
Corleone in “The Godfather.” The mega star of the West
leaves many a memories from his death.
is a man that just cannot be seen in the light of a movie star.
His deeds surpassed most of the cinematic values and transcended
to a more human sphere. He was the actor who pulled back from the
cinema industry in the 1960s to focus on supporting the Civil Rights
Movement and the broader struggles against war and oppression. In
1959, he was a founding member of the Hollywood chapter of SANE,
an anti-nuclear arms group formed alongside African-American performers
Harry Belafonte and Ossie Davis.
for the rights of Native Americans in 1963, Brando marched arm in
arm with James Baldwin at the March on Washington. He, along with
Paul Newman, went down South with the freedom riders to desegregate
inter-State bus lines. In defiance of state law, Native Americans
protested the denial of treaty rights by fishing in the Puyallup
River on March 2, 1964. Inspired by the civil rights movement sit-ins,
Brando, Episcopal clergyman John Yaryan from San Francisco, and
Puyallup tribal leader Bob Satiacum caught salmon in the Puyallup
without state permits. The action was called a fish-in and resulted
in Brando’s arrest.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Brando announced
that he was bowing out of the lead role in a major film and would
now devote himself to the civil rights movement. Brando said “If
the vacuum formed by Dr. King’s death isn’t filled with
concern and understanding and a measure of love, then I think we
all are really going to be lost....”
gave money and spoke out in defense of the Black Panthers and counted
Bobby Seale as a close friend and attended the memorial for slain
prison leader George Jackson. Southern theater chains boycotted
his films, and Hollywood created what became known as the ‘Brando
Black List’ that shut him out of many big time roles.
making a comeback in Godfather, Brando won his second Oscar. Instead
of accepted what he called “a door prize,” he sent up
Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse befuddled
presenter Roger Moore and issue a scathing speech about the Federal
Government’s treatment of Native Americans.
great actor and civils rights activist was born on April 3rd 1924,
in Omaha, Nebraska, the third and last child of Dorothy Pennebaker
Brando and Marlon Brando, Senior; sisters Jocelyn and Frances; who
were descended from Irish immigrants.
this famous character actor died at the age of 80 from undisclosed
causes, though widely understood to be complications from morbid
obesity. Brando, a three-decade survivor in his struggle to balance
a gluttonous movie star lifestyle with “not dying” had
his body donated to science, in accordance with his wishes. Brando
had recorded his wish of organ and tissue donation with the living
legacy registry, in his own living will and on his drivers license.
short tribute attempts to trace the life and virtues of a man whom
many identify only as a great actor born with incredible talents
and a rebellious attitude to supplement them. But the writer perceives
that there is more to the brand name Marlon Brando which sold the
products of the Hollywood film industry. For the love of human kind
and the feeling for the oppressed and exploited Brando remains an
icon of defiance.