US actor who was closely identified with the rebellious 1950s and was a prominent exponent of ‘method’ acting in both theatre and films in the USA.
Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, and attended the Actors' Studio. He made his Broadway debut as Nels in I Remember Mama (1944) but acclaim came with his use of ‘the method’ in his portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), the film version of which, four years later, gained him an Academy Award nomination. His portrayal of a paraplegic in The Men (1950) first brought ‘the method’ to the screen.
He received Oscar nominations and British Film Awards for Viva Zapata! (1952) and Julius Caesar (1953), in which he played Mark Antony, while the film with which his name is probably most closely linked, On the Waterfront (1954), won a Cannes Film Festival Prize and earned him an Oscar, a British Film Award, and New York Critics Award. The Teahouse of the August Moon (1956) and The Young Lions (1958) followed.
In 1959 he founded Pennebaker Productions and produced, directed, and starred in One-Eyed Jacks (1961). During the 1960s he made several less successful films, including Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and Candy (1968). In 1971, however, came his highly successful starring role in The Godfather. Brando refused to accept the Oscar awarded him for this film in protest at the treatment of Native Americans in the USA. His other films of the 1970s included the critically acclaimed Last Tango in Paris (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979). Following nine years of retirement, he returned to the screen in A Dry White Season (1989). The following year he became embroiled in the scandal surrounding the killing of his daughter's abusive lover, a crime of which his son was eventually convicted: the daughter later committed suicide. Brando's subsequent films have included Don Juan de Marco (1995).
Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945) — Theatre.