Marlon Brando

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Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr.
BirthplaceOmaha, Nebraska, U.S.
EducationThe New School

Brando, Marlon,

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 StanislavskyStanislavsky, Constantin
, 1863–1938, Russian theatrical director, teacher, and actor, whose original name was Constantin Sergeyevich Alekseyev. He was cofounder with Vladimir Nemirovich-Danchenko of the Moscow Art Theater in 1898, which he would remain associated with for
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 at New York's Actor's Studio (he studied with Stella AdlerAdler, Stella
, 1901–92, American actress, director, and acting teacher, b. New York City. The daughter of Jacob and Sarah Adler, stars in New York's Yiddish theater, she made her acting debut in 1906 in one of her father's productions.
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), 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 CoppolaCoppola, Francis Ford
, 1939–, American film director, b. Detroit. Coppola began his career directing low-budget films and working on screenplays for other directors.
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's The Godfather, in which he played a Mafia patriarch and for which he won (and subsequently refused) the Academy Award, and Bernard BertolucciBertolucci, Bernardo
, 1940–2018, Italian film director and screenwriter, considered one of the finest Italian directors of his generation. The son of poet Attilio Bertolucci and himself a published poet, he began his film career in 1961 as an assistant to director Pier
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'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), S. Kanfer (2008), and S. L. Mizruchi (2014); studies by T. Thomas (1973), B. Braithwaite (1977), R. Tanitch (1994), and S. Arecco (2007).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

Brando, Marlon (Jr.)

(1924–  ) film actor; born in Omaha, Nebr. After being expelled from a Minnesota military academy, he made his Broadway debut as Nels in I Remember Mama (1944). The archetypal "method" product of the New York Actors Studio, his naturalistic acting and casual delivery were ideal as the brutish Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), a part he was to reprise in the movie adaptation in 1951. Brando's first film role was as an embittered paraplegic in The Men (1950). His first Oscar was earned in On the Waterfront (1954). He won the award again in the title role of The Godfather (1972), but refused the Oscar in protest of the film industry's treatment of Native Americans. Increasingly quixotic, reclusive, and obese, he ended an eight-year absence from the screen with the anti-apartheid drama A Dry White Season (1988).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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