photo © Galyna Andrushko | Fotolia.com
“When I lie on the beach there naked, which I do sometimes, and I feel the wind coming over me and I see the stars up above and I am lookinginto this very deep, indescribable night, it is something that escapes my vocabulary to describe. Then I think: ‘God, I have no importance. Whatever I do or don’t do, or what anybody does, is not more important than the grains of sand that I am lying on, or the coconut that I amusing for my pillow.'” – Marlon Brando
Marlon Brando, Jr. (1924 – 2004) was an American actor and a cultural icon most famous for his Academy Award-winning performances as Terry Malloy in “On the Waterfront” and Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.” Frequently cited as the greatest and most influential film actor of all time, he performed for more than fifty years using the “method approach” that made his performances memorable for being grippingly realistic and passionate.
Brando started as a Broadway actor in New York where he was introduced to great works of literature, music, and theatre. In 1947, he played his greatest stage role when he was cast in Tennessee William’s “A Streetcar Named Desire” as Stanley Kowalski. He reprised the role in its 1951 film version, gaining him popularity as a film actor especially after its critical success and 4 Academy Awards. He went on to star in more hugely successful films but experienced a low point in his career in the 1960’s. However, his role as Mafia chieftain Don Corleone in Coppola’s “The Godfather” was the perfect comeback that earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor.
Being one of the first actor-activists, he sent a Native American named Sacheen Littlefeather to decline the award on his behalf. It was his own way of rebelling against the “poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry.” His activism for civil and Native American rights encouraged more Americans like his fellow actors to be involved in political causes by using their fame for a good purpose.