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Little known facts about Marlon Brando’s final years of his life

Everyone remembers Marlon Brando for his stunning performances as Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront or Vito Corleone in The Godfather, but little is known about the later years of his life.

For example, Brando spent some time playing the drums in the last decade of his life. He was innovative as well, as there are several patents issued under his name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office involving a method of tensioning drum heads.

Young and beautiful, Marlon Brando along with Eva Marie Saint; a screenshot from the trailer On the Waterfront from 1954

Brando’s private life was kept a secret and was even considered mysterious, until his death from lung failure in July 2004. He owned a private kingdom, a Polynesian island named Tetiaroa, but at the end, it turned out that Brando opted Michael’s “Neverland Ranch” over the island. According to Miko Brando, who has worked as Michael Jackson’s bodyguard and assistant for a couple of years, the actor, and the singer were close friends. Marlon would regularly visit the Neverland ranch, sometimes staying there for an extensive period of time.

“The last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time, it was with Michael Jackson. He loved it. He had a 24-hour chef, 24-hour security, 24-hour help, 24-hour kitchen, 24-hour maid service”, said Miko Brando to the Los Angeles Times on one occasion.

Neverland Ranch’s gates. Brando had considered the ranch a second home in his last years  photo credit

Marlon had also participated in Jackson’s two-day celebration concert in 2001 for his 30-th anniversary of a solo career and starred in his 13-minute-long video for the hit “You Rock My World” released that same year.

“Dad had a hard time breathing in his final days, and he was on oxygen much of the time. He loved the outdoors, so Michael would invite him over to Neverland. Dad could name all the trees there, and the flowers, but being on oxygen it was hard for him to get around and see them all, it’s such a big place. So Michael got Dad a golf cart with a portable oxygen tank so he could go around and enjoy Neverland”, stated Miko.

Brando took on minor projects at the end. Months before his death in 2004, he had agreed to work with Tunisian film director, Ridha Behi, and began working on a script for a project that was entitled, Brando and Brando. The actor worked on the script up to a week before his death occurred. After that, Ridha had decided to make an homage to Brando, changing the project title to Citizen Brando.

Brando with James Baldwin at the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, D.C.

Marlon had struggled with health issues years before his lung failure in 2004. He was first hospitalized for pneumonia back in 2001. The recurring health problems disabled him to finish other projects as well. Shortly before his death, he was supposed to give his voice for a video game adaptation of The Godfather. However, Brando had managed to record only one single line. The video game was thematically based on the 1972 iconic film and involved an original character named Aldo Trapani, who is able to prosper thanks to the Corleone family.

Read another story from us: Before moving to New York to study acting, Marlon Brando was expelled from high school because he rode a motorcycle through the halls

He would also be remembered for his temper on set and the weird requirements to film directors with whom he had worked on film projects in the later part of his career. As funny as it may seem, the last role he took was for a short animated movie that was never actually released, entitled Big Bug Man. For the film, Brando provided the voice of a character named “Mrs. Sour”. As this was the last role of the iconic actor, it was also his only role as a female character. It’s been 10 years since the filming of this project and still, there are no signs of its actual release. However, people still count on hearing Mrs. Sour’s voice one day.

Stefan Andrews

Stefan is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to The Vintage News. He is a graduate in Literature. He also runs a blog – This City Knows.