MARLON BRANDO – THE HUNK
Hello everybody. Mister Joe Morella and Mister Frank Segers here again
Take a close look at the accompanying Marlon Brando beefcake from Joe’s extensive photo collection.
The picture was taken, we suspect, in the actor’s stage years in the late 1940’s, probably around the time that he starred in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” This was before he galvanized audiences worldwide in the 1951 movie version.
It was reported at the time that Brando used to pump himself up before each performance by grinding out dozens of pushups. Whatever, there’s no denying the guy looks gorgeous. Brando was not a tall man — around 5 feet 9 – but he certainly made inch count. At least in this photo.
Now, if you have a strong stomach, take a look at Page 616 of author Darwin Porter’s scabrous 2006 biography of the actor, “Brando Unzipped” (subtitled “Bad Boy, Megastar, Sexual Outlaw”). The photo, probably taken by an intrusive papparazzo armed with a telephone lens, might shock you.
It shows an elderly Brando – he died July 1, 2004, aged 80 – standing by a window clad only in sagging briefs. He displays an enormous midsection, pendulous breasts with gobs of flesh handing from his extended arms. Only the famous face is recognizable. Above the photo is the caption, “Adieux.”
That the actor appears grotesquely obese would be an understatement. By the mid-1990’s, it’s reported that Brando weighed easily over 300 pounds.
How exactly did Brando make the journey from the svelte figure in the photo shown here to that pathetic figure in his dotage in front of the window? Was it the all-too-familiar ravages of age and easy living? Or, what it something else?
We decided to do a little research to try and answer this question, or at least come up with a reasonably plausible explanation.
Brando was born April 3, 1924, so by the time that the photo shown here was taken, he was about 25. And, as we all know, we tend to look better when we are young. But the actor’s battle of the bulge began relatively early.
An indication that the actor was losing his grip on the calorie count comes through loudly and clearly in the 1957 New Yorker magazine profile written by Truman Capote. In typically acidic fashion, according to Porter, Capote paints Brando “as an overweight, self-indulgent movie star pretending to be on a diet while stuffing himself with French fries, spaghetti and apple pie.”
Obviously, Brando loved to eat. The conventional wisdom has evolved that this was caused by stress.
As you’ve probably guessed by now, that was Roger Moore pictured with Lana Turner, his costar in the 1956 MGM costume drama “Diane.”
Set in 16th century France, the movie had Lana in the starring role as a royal advisor who falls in love with the King’s young son, played by a Moore. The couple was an appealing screen match despite their age difference: Lana was 35, Roger 29. “Diane” shows off Lana’s fencing skills, and Moore without his shirt. He plays a ruffian royal heir – tamed by Lana, of course — with a taste for Greco-Roman wrestling. Judging by the evidence in this Cinemascope spectacular, Moore could have used a bit more time in the gym.
Moore went on to star in the internationally popular British tv series “The Saint,” playing suave spy Simon Templar. The series began in 1962, and lasted until 1969. Four years later, the British actor took over from Sean Connery the James Bond role in the fabulously successful feature film series, beginning with “Live and Let Die” and running through “A View To A Kill” in 1985, when Moore felt at 58 he was a bit long in the tooth to portray Ian Fleming’s dashing romantic hero.