Marlon Brando vs. Everybody (1951) 🇺🇸
“I’m Tired Of All The Talk”
Marlon Brando’s unique qualities have been a hot subject for Hollywood gossip
by Tricia Hurst
For the past year or so, Hollywood has come up time and again with the “I don’t give a darn what anyone thinks” — back-to-nature type of actor. This variety is not to be confused with the “watch me flex my biceps” specimen. Not that the former don’t possess the required physical measurements. They’re just not interested in flexing the muscles.
Ever since movies began, the public has latched on to a certain type of actor, subject to change as the years skipped by. After Valentino, there was the “hygienic” or Rudy Vallee period; then the “ugly brute-dame beating” period as typified by Gable and Cagney; and then the “fragile trend” which introduced Sinatra as the popular lover. ( This seemed to bring out the mother instinct in American womanhood.) From there, we progressed to the healthy post-War appreciation of the “boy-next-door” type which included Van Johnson and Glenn Ford. (I like to think of this as the pasteurized period.) After that followed the Robert Mitchum or “subtle evil stage,” only to be topped by Mr. Ezio Pinza who started the trend towards the “middle-aged, understanding variety.”
Then, a year or so ago, we progressed to the “I don’t give a dam what anyone thinks” hero and, as far as I know, we are still keeping him at the top of popularity and box-office polls.
The unusual factor about these current “individual” heroes is that they have followed no set rules for gaining the public eye; on the contrary, they have done everything possible to avoid attention. Many will disagree with me by saying that the quickest way to get the limelight is to pretend it’s the last thing in the world you want, but I am willing to make any bets and take odds as far as one young man is concerned.
Not a great deal has been written concerning Marlon Brando because he has appeared in only two films, “The Men,” and “A Streetcar Named Desire.” But he’s destined to become one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, a fact that will make every one happy — every one, that is, except Mr. Brando.
In his apartment on West 57th Street one night, “Bud” Brando was the identical picture of what column items and random gossip had painted. In jeans and a faded grey shirt, he sat crosslegged on the living room couch, jumping up every now and then to change a mambo record or get a cigarette. The apartment looked as if a cyclone had hit it, and through the French doors I saw one underfed-looking young man — known to smarter night club goers as Wally Cox, one of the best comedians to appear on the scene in a long time. Attired in little more than a hand towel — on him it looked good — he was working diligently on a play, and an occasional grunt or groan told you he was still breathing.
Sprawled there on the couch, Marlon didn’t look as if he were about to have a complete nervous breakdown at any moment, but had the newspapers of the last two weeks or so been anywhere near right, Mr. B. should have been relaxing in a neat white straitjacket at a quiet country retreat. For in the short period of seventeen days, the following items had been lapped up by the ever-believing gossip-column-reading public:
“Marlon Brando has just had a mink-covered seat made for his motorcycle, which he rides along Broadway at eighty miles an hour.” (Brando wouldn’t know a mink if it walked up and bit him and, so far as eighty miles an hour — have YOU ever tried even getting your car out of “first” in congested Broadway traffic?)
“Marlon Brando is sharing an apartment with Montgomery Gift.”
“Marlon Brando is sharing an apartment with Elia Kazan.”
“Marlon Brando is sharing an apartment with his sister and her husband.”
“Marlon Brando is sharing an apartment with his ex- and present wife.”
“Marlon Brando is sharing an apartment with two ballet dancers from the City Center who dropped in for a short beer... with the credit manager from Abercrombie & Fitch, who happened by one day inquiring about an unpaid bill.” It was also reported that he was holding forth in a building on MacDougal Street which, for the record, is empty because the Health Department condemned it some years ago. (This had nothing to do with Mr. Brando and I only mention it as it’s a great address to give to creditors and people you don’t ever want to see again; — that, or 10 Greenwich Avenue, which is the women’s prison.)
To continue a bit further with these quaint little tidbits which are continually cropping up:
“Marlon Brando sends his entire salary home, keeping only enough for his meals — which he eats at Riker’s on 55th St. — and his mambo records.”
“Marlon Brando never eats anywhere but Humpty Dumpty in Greenwich Village, and always with the same mysterious blonde.”
“Bud Brando’s real love is an exotic brunette, who walks the French poodle he gave her in Washington Square.”
“Marlon Brando’s only gal — a red-headed secretary — is showing off the afghan-hound she received from him from Pango-Pango.”
“Marlon Brando says there is no one in his life and doesn’t know where people get the idea he has a secret heart interest.”
“Marlon Brando is going to do “Viva Zapata.”
“Marlon Brando won’t do a picture for another year.”
“Marlon Brando is considering becoming a monk.”
The same week that he was reported in Glennon’s. P. J. Clarke’s, the Blue Angel, Birdland. the Vanguard, the Palladium, and the Men’s Bar at the Biltmore, a lengthy article came out, stating that he had limited his life to studying at the New School and was in bed every night right after the nine o’clock news.
This is a great trick if you can do it, but no one can — and Brando is the first to say so.
“I’m tired of all the talk and phony gossip items, and some of the magazine interviews that are so often very misleading. It’s not that the interviewers misunderstand you; they write what they think their readers want to hear. I guess it would be pretty dull copy if they wrote what an actor really does with himself each day. But where they get some of the lulu’s they come out with is beyond me.” (It’s easy! You just toss in bed all night, smoke three packs of cigarettes, bite your nails down to the elbow, and if you’re lucky you come up with the same idea that thirty other writers have come up with at the same moment.)
“They ask you what you eat for breakfast, and what size shorts you wear — and did you get a ‘message’ from “Winnie The Pooh” when you were a child? This is usually followed by — do you like girls, betting the horses or playing with yo-yos for relaxation? It embarrasses me! I don’t know what to answer. Even if I answer — straight ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ it will come out in print to the effect that I only eat Yogurt, that I’m planning to adapt “Winnie The Pooh” for a musical Mike Todd will present on Broadway this Fall, and that I’m investing in a new kind of yo-yo that will only go sideways and which will be named for Shelley Winters because I’m secretly in love with her.” (Aside to Farley Granger: Brando hardly knows the girl.)
“I used to be ingenious and scrupulously honest about everything, but I invariably got hurt. I don’t think I’m dishonest now, but I’ve learned to take people and what happens to them in my stride, and that includes myself. Yet I still haven’t gotten used to the preposterous things I read about myself.”
Bud Brando has a very soft voice and you find yourself leaning towards him to hear what he has to say. His manner of speaking, which was commented on by almost every movie reviewer, would be hard to trace to any locale or class. Al- though coming from a relatively well-to-do Middle West family, Brando sounds at times as if he were a fugitive from a Tenth Avenue pool hall. This slurred tone is not an affectation, though, and he is the first to admit it has become a crutch.
“I’m doing something about it now. I don’t know how I got it, but it’s actually become a part of me and I’m not making like Humphrey Bogart or Sam Spade, as some people choose to believe.”
This same guy has been accused of being an extrovert, egocentric, affected and a show-off. He has also been termed an introvert, recluse, sensitive, shy and inhibited. Whizzing around Manhattan on a motorcycle, playing a hot set of drums in Broadway jive joints, dating pretty waitresses on Fire Island, riding the 8th Ave. Subway in jeans and T-shirt, and doing just about whatever he wants to — if and when the spirit moved him. All this has gained him the reputation of being the only guy to make Montgomery Clift look like a piker, as far as being conservative is concerned. (They are constantly being compared to one another, which is a source of irritation to them both.)
But to say any of this has been an intentional bid for publicity or attention would be unfair and completely untrue. Actually, he has become more conservative in the last year or so, but for the one reason that he wanted to, not because public opinion or studio execs demanded it.
“As far as changing goes, I might even end up with the well-known swimming pool and mile-long convertible, having dinner at Ciro’s or wherever it is they’re always having dinner. No one can possibly know what he’s going to end up with, or give in to. I know what I’m going to fight against, though.”
Just what Bud meant by that I’m not sure, but I have a feeling it has a great deal to do with his refusal to go along with the accepted Hollywood theories and traditions.
As a boy, he often didn’t see eye to eye with his teachers. When he was earning $300 a week in the Broadway show, “Truckline Cafe,” he quit to take a $40 a week role in Ben Hecht’s “A Flag Is Born.” Flat broke, he hitch-hiked up to Cape Cod to read for Tennessee Williams for the part of Stanley Kowalski in “Streetcar” and when Williams gave him the part he borrowed bus fare back to the city, this after having known the author only a few minutes.
While making his first picture, “The Men,” for Stanley Kramer, Brando went to Birmingham Veterans’ Hospital in a suburb of Los Angeles and made himself at home there for four weeks in a ward with thirty-one paraplegics, observing their problems.
One evening they were all in their chairs having a drink at a local bar when they were approached by one of those well-meaning but annoying characters who love to make speeches to veterans. This particular bore, a middle-aged woman, was sure that with a little faith the boys would regain the use of their limbs. As she droned away, her attention was drawn to Marlon, who was quivering from head to toe in what appeared to be a sort of spasm. . Then, with agonizing motions and groans, clutching desperately at the sides of his wheel-chair, he rose, fell back, rose again, and broke into a mad version of the Lindy hop.
The woman fainted dead away and was removed from the scene of the crime. Needless to say, Brando has had at least thirty-one ardent fans ever since.
There are some who will say that Bud Brando is putting on a big act and that he’s not fooling anyone but himself when it comes to this “individualism” stuff. Frankly, I don’t think he gives a hoot what they think. And I’d like to say for Marlon Brando’s benefit, and not the readers’, “there are some who greatly admire the intelligence and courage it takes for you to live your life as you are doing, finding out the answers only by trial and error. Not many have that courage. Those who call you unique and different, Bud Brando, would do well to follow your example instead of suggesting that you follow theirs.”
Marlon recreates his stage role of Stanley, Vivian Leigh’s rough-and-ready brother-in-law, in Warner’s “Streetcar named Desire”
Marlon, Vivian. In private life, he’s usually in jeans, collects mambo records.
With Nick Dennis. “I’ve learned to take what happens to people in my stride.”
Marlon, with Kim Hunter, has chance to display his tender side as well as comic flair in “Streetcar.”
Kim, playing Marlon’s wife, also had role on Broadway. Marlon’s now making “Viva Zapata” with Jean Peters.
With Rudy Bond, Nick Dennis. There’ve been many wild reports about Marlon because he refuses to follow Hollywood traditions.
Between scenes, Marlon studies with script girl Polly Craus. He gave up $300 a week for $40 role.
Says Marlon, “No one can know how he’ll end up, what he’ll give in to. But I know what I’m going to fight against.”
Source: Screenland, October 1951