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Legendary screen presence Marlon Brando performed for more than 50 years and is famous for such films as A Streetcar Named Desire and The Godfather.
Helen Mirren - In the Frame (2:33)
Watch a short video about Marlon Brando and learn how this actor recovered his acting career by landing the lead role in the film "The Godfather."
Marlon Brando has been hailed as one of the greatest actors of all time with a career that spanned countless memorable films and characters.
After turning down a role in the first Godfather film, Robert De Niro was given the chance to play a young Vito Corleone in "The Godfather Part II" putting himself on the road to major Hollywood success.
An inside look at Helen Mirren's autobiography "In the Frame." Click "Buy Now" to learn more about the book. Video courtesy of Simon & Schuster.
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Marlon Brando was born April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska. After early promise in the 1940s and '50s, including a legendary performance in the film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, Brando's film career had more downs than up until his starring role in The Godfather. Later, he received huge salaries for small parts. He became known for self-indulgence but was always respected for his finest work.
"An actor's a guy who, if you ain't talking about him, ain't listening."
Actor Marlon Brando was born on April 3, 1924, in Omaha, Nebraska. Brando grew up in Illinois, and after expulsion from a military academy, he dug ditches until his father offered to finance his education. Brando moved to New York to study with acting coach Stella Adler and at Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio. Adler has often been credited as the principal inspiration in Brando's early career, and with opening the actor to great works of literature, music and theater.
While at the Actors' Studio, Brando adopted the "method approach," which emphasizes characters' motivations for actions. He made his Broadway debut in John Van Druten's sentimental I Remember Mama (1944). New York theater critics voted him Broadway's Most Promising Actor for his performance in Truckline Caf (1946). In 1947, he played his greatest stage role, Stanley Kowalski -- the brute who rapes his sister-in-law, the fragile Blanche du Bois in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.
Hollywood beckoned to Brando, and he made his motion picture debut as a paraplegic World War II veteran in The Men (1950). Although he did not cooperate with the Hollywood publicity machine, he went on to play Kowalski in the 1951 film version of A Streetcar Named Desire, a popular and critical success that earned four Academy Awards.
Brando's next movie, Viva Zapata! (1952), with a script by John Steinbeck, traces Emiliano Zapata's rise from peasant to revolutionary to president of Mexico. Brando followed that with Julius Caesar and then The Wild One (1954), in which he played a motorcycle-gang leader in all his leather-jacketed glory. Next came his Academy Award-winning role as a longshoreman fighting the system in On the Waterfront, a hard-hitting look at New York City labor unions.
During the rest of the decade, Brando's screen roles ranged from Napoleon Bonaparte in Désirée (1954), to Sky Masterson in 1955's Guys and Dolls, in which he sang and danced, to a Nazi soldier in The Young Lions (1958). From 1955 to 1958, movie exhibitors voted him one of the top 10 box-office draws in the nation.
During the 1960s, however, his career had more downs than ups, especially after the MGM studio's disastrous 1962 remake of Mutiny on the Bounty, which failed to recoup even half of its enormous budget. Brando portrayed Fletcher Christian, Clark Gable's role in the 1935 original. Brando's excessive self-indulgence reached a pinnacle during the filming of this movie. He was criticized for his on-set tantrums and for trying to alter the script. Off the set, he had numerous affairs, ate too much, and distanced himself from the cast and crew.
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