Thursday, June 4, 2009
Who's that Queer?
Marlon Brando, Jr. was an American actor whose body of work spanned over half a century. He is considered one of the greatest actors of all time, and was named the fourth Greatest Male Star of All Time by the American Film Institute. In addition to his long film career, the openly bisexual actor was a major supporter of the Civil Rights and Native American Rights movements.
As a young sex symbol, he is best known for his roles in A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront from the 1950's. In his middle ages, his well-known roles include his Academy Award-winning performance in The Godfather, Colonel Walter Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, and an Academy Award-nominated performance as Paul in Last Tango in Paris.
In the early 1960s Brando contributed thousands of dollars to both the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.) and to a scholarship fund established for the children of slain Mississippi N.A.A.C.P. leader Medgar Evers. In August 1963, Brando participated in the March on Washington along with fellow celebrities Harry Belafonte, James Garner, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, and Sidney Poitier. Brando also, along with Paul Newman, participated in the freedom rides.
Sacheen Littlefeather represented Mr. Brando at the ceremony. She appeared in full Apache clothing. She stated that owing to the "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry" Mr. Brando would not accept the award. At this time the 1973 standoff at Wounded Knee occurred, causing rising tensions between the government and Native American activists.
In Gary Carey's 1976 biography The Only Contender, Brando is quoted as saying, "Homosexuality is so much in fashion it no longer makes news. Like a large number of men, I, too, have had homosexual experiences and I am not ashamed. I have never paid much attention to what people think about me. But if there is someone who is convinced that Jack Nicholson and I are lovers, may they continue to do so. I find it amusing." An alleged long-time lover was fellow actor Wally Cox, who was also Brando's best friend since their childhood. Brando is also quoted as saying: "If Wally had been a woman, I would have married him and we would have lived happily ever after." After Cox died, Brando kept his ashes for 30 years; they were eventually scattered with his own. Another alleged lover was the French actor Christian Marquand, whom Brando named his son after. Other Brando biographies detail alleged affairs with Carey Grant, Rock Hudson, and Stewart Granger.
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