Take a close look at the above 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 push-ups.  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 take a look at the photo below, taken about a year before the actor died. (That happened on July 1, 2004, aged 80). It might shock you.

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 above to the one below?  Was it the all-too-familiar ravages of age and easy living?  Or, what it something else?

Brando was born April 3, 1924, so by the time that the first 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, 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. Whatever, he consumed a lot of illicit calories and in the end, looked the price.



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