Friday, July 02, 2004

The Wid One dies

Marlon Brando, one of the most influential actors of his generation, has died, according to media reports on Friday citing his lawyer. He was 80.

A family friend told Fox News that Brando died on Thursday night at 6:20 p.m. (2220 GMT) in a Los Angeles-area hospital after being taken there on Wednesday. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Brando, with his broken nose and rebel nature, established a more naturalistic style of acting and defined American macho for a generation with classic performances in "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951), "The Wild One" (1953) and "On the Waterfront" (1954).

To many, Brando remained the motorcycle-riding rebel he played in "The Wild One." Asked what he was rebelling against, Brando replied, "Whaddya got?"

Brando won an Academy Award for "On the Waterfront" and another for his brooding, at times mumbling, portrayal of the patriarch of a Mafia family in "The Godfather" (1972).

But Brando also railed against Hollywood and chafed at the pomp of stardom throughout a stormy career. In 1973, he refused to accept his second Oscar to protest the treatment of American Indians and later professed not to know what had happened to the award.

In more recent years, Brando's brilliance as an actor was overshadowed by his eccentric reclusiveness, the turmoil in his family life and financial disputes.

Christian Brando, his son by his first wife, Welsh actress Anna Kashfi, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for the 1990 murder of his half-sister Cheyenne's boyfriend. Cheyenne later committed suicide, in 1995, at the age of 25.

Brando, who was paid a then-staggering $14 million for his walk-on performance in 1978's "Superman," remained enmeshed in legal disputes over money up until his final weeks.

He poured millions into Tetiaroa, a South Seas atoll he bought in 1966 and where he spent much of the 1980s living out a boyhood fascination with Tahiti rekindled during the shooting of "Mutiny on the Bounty."

Movies, he said, he made only for the money. "Acting is an empty and useless profession," he said.

Still, Brando inspired a generation of beatniks and rebel actors, including James Dean.

"There was a sense of excitement, of danger in his presence, but perhaps his special appeal was in a kind of simple conceit, the conceit of tough kids," wrote critic Pauline Kael of the New Yorker.

"Brando represented a contemporary version of the free American," she wrote.