Marlon Brando dead at 80; unforgettable actor in 'Streetcar,' `On the Waterfront,' `Godfather'

Friday, July 2nd 2004, 10:43 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Marlon Brando, who revolutionized American acting with his Method performances in ``Streetcar Named Desire'' and ``On the Waterfront'' and went on to create the iconic characterization of Don Vito Corleone in ``The Godfather,'' has died. He was 80.

Brando died at an undisclosed Los Angeles hospital Thursday, attorney David J. Seeley said Friday. The cause of death was being withheld, Seeley said, noting the actor ``was a very private man.''

Brando, whose unpredictable behavior made him equally fascinating off the screen, was acclaimed the greatest actor of his generation, a two-time winner of the Academy Award who influenced some of the best actors of the generation that followed, among them Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson.

He was the unforgettable embodiment of the brutish Stanley Kowalski of ``A Streetcar Named Desire,'' the mixed up Terry Malloy of ``On the Waterfront'' (which won him his first Oscar) and the wily Corleone of ``The Godfather.''

But his private life may best be defined by a line from ``The Wild One,'' in which Brando, playing a motorcycle gang leader, is asked what he's rebelling against.

``Whattaya got?'' was his famous reply.

His image was a studio's nightmare. Millions of words were written about his weight, his many romances and three marriages, his tireless _ and, for some, tiresome _ support of the American Indian and other causes, his battles with film producers and directors, his refuge on a Tahitian isle.

His most famous act of rebellion was his refusal in 1973 to accept the best actor Oscar for ``The Godfather.'' Instead, he sent a woman who called herself Sasheen Littlefeather to read a diatribe about Hollywood's treatment of Native Americans.

It was roundly booed.

Brando's private life turned tragic years later with his son's conviction for killing the boyfriend of his half sister, Cheyenne Brando, in 1990. Five years later, Cheyenne committed suicide, still depressed over the killing.

Still, the undying spotlight never made him conform.

``I am myself,'' he once declared, ``and if I have to hit my head against a brick wall to remain true to myself, I will do it.''