Brando, Marlon

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Brando, Marlon

Marlon Brando, 1924–2004, American film actor, often described as the greatest of his generation, b. Omaha, Nebr. Regarded as the foremost practitioner of "method" acting as taught by American disciples of Constantin Stanislavsky at New York's Actor's Studio (he studied with Stella Adler), the young Brando combined a rough sex appeal with a powerful immediacy and a naturalistic performance style that revolutionized and transformed the art of screen acting. His stage reputation was firmly established with his Broadway performance as Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), a role he later committed to film (1951). He made his film debut as a bitter paraplegic veteran in The Men (1950). His other early film roles included an idealistic Mexican revolutionary in Viva Zapata! (1952), Marc Antony in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (1953), a motorcycle-riding rebel in The Wild One (1953), a battered dockworker in On the Waterfront (1954; Academy Award), and Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls (1955).

Brando made his directorial debut with One-Eyed Jacks (1961), in which he also starred. In the late 1950s and 60s he appeared in a number of mainly forgettable movies, but in 1972 he again was widely acclaimed for his performances in two very different films: Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather, in which he played a Mafia patriarch and for which he won (and subsequently refused) the Academy Award, and Bernard Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris, an erotic tour de force that created considerable controversy on its release. Brando continued to appear in many films, including in supporting roles in Missouri Breaks (1976), Apocalypse Now (1979), A Dry White Season (1988), and The Freshman (1990) and as a costar in Don Juan DeMarco (1995), The Brave (1997), and The Score (2001).

See his autobiography (1994); L. Grobel, Conversations with Brando (rev. ed. 1999); biographies by D. Downing (1984), N. Bly (1994), P. Manso (1994), P. Ryan (1994), R. Schickel (rev. ed. 1999), P. Bosworth (2001), and S. Kanfer (2008); studies by T. Thomas (1973), B. Braithwaite (1977), R. Tanitch (1994), and S. Arecco (2007).

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