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.

There are many photos, and many films, which show Brando as an obese older man, but we prefer to remember him as pictured above.

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