Inside the Most Publicly Tragic Chapter of Marlon Brando's Scandalous Family History

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Marlon Brando had a unusual life.

He was French-Polynesian-island-owning affluent and beyond-famous, of course, having made his mark during Hollywood's aureate property arsenic the epitome of the gorgeous, sensitive, vaguely unsafe starring man, decades earlier helium played the titular patriarch successful Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather and firmly cemented his presumption arsenic a surviving legend. Jack NicholsonMartin Sheen, Sean Penn, Javier Bardem and Ryan Gosling are a tiny sampling of the antheral stars who've worshiped astatine the altar of Brando the artist.

His gravelly voice, quirky mannerisms and brooding strength became fodder for some loving homage and, eventually, parody. But the enigmatic actor's life besides got disconnected connected an unstable foot, increasing up with an alcoholic parent and emotionally distant begetter who divided up erstwhile helium was 11. The charismatic kid from Omaha, Neb., spent clip in military school, wherever helium became rather the prankster, and past made his mode to New York to effort his manus astatine acting.

He made his Broadway debut astatine 20 and won his archetypal Oscar astatine 30, romanced countless women, including Marilyn Monroe, and implicit the people of 5 decades became a begetter to astatine slightest 9 children.

Brando's list of celebrated paramours besides included Rita Moreno, who opened up in her 2013 memoir astir getting pregnant toward the extremity of their eight-year, on-and-off narration and almost dying from complications of an illegal abortion—after which Brando near municipality to film Mutiny connected the Bounty and fell for his co-star Tarita Teriipaia, who became his 3rd woman successful 1962.

When helium got location from the shoot, Moreno wrote, she was unsocial successful his location 1 greeting and swallowed immoderate of his sleeping pills successful her distress. Luckily Brando's adjunct recovered her and she was rushed to the infirmary to person her tummy pumped. The Puerto Rican prima had precocious finished shooting West Side Story and her Oscar triumph successful April 1962 was inactive up of her.

"He kept disappointing me," Moreno said of Brando connected the May 9 occurrence of Hoda Kotb's Making Space podcast, the antheral she called "the lust of my life" inactive fodder for speech each these years later.

"But let's enactment things successful due perspective," she continued. "You fto things happen, each right? People aren't conscionable mean to you. If you support letting them disappoint you and wounded you, past there's thing incorrect with this relationship, including yourself. So having said that, I conscionable got disappointed for the past time. We came backmost unneurotic aft separating. It was a precise obsessive relationship."

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Brando didn't discuss his 3 marriages oregon galore kids successful his 1994 memoir co-written with Robert Lindsey, Songs My Mother Taught Me, stating that the publication was successful portion to close each the rumors and misconceptions astir him for his children's benefit, truthful that they "can abstracted the information from the myths that others person created astir me."

Missing from the narrative, however, was the most publically tumultuous section of Brando's sprawling household past to date, which had unfolded a fewer years anterior to the book's publication—and the memoir's merchandise came conscionable months earlier the episode's tragic coda.

Christian Brando Shoots His Sister's Boyfriend

On May 16, 1990, 32-year-old Christian Brando—Marlon's eldest lad and lone kid with his archetypal wife, histrion Anna Kashfi—shot and killed 26-year-old Dag Drollet, the fellow of his half-sister Cheyenne Brando, successful the den of their father's location successful the Hollywood Hills.

Christian maintained he was lone trying to defend Cheyenne, 20, who was large astatine the time. Drollet was "slapping around" his half-sister, Christian reportedly told detectives, admitting helium changeable the different antheral erstwhile successful the head. Drollet had been staying with Cheyenne astatine Brando's location since they some flew into municipality from Tahiti astir 10 days earlier. Reached by a newsman from Hard Copy, the archetypal to inform him of his son's death, Drollet's father, Jacques, reportedly said, "He was a bully boy. Now it's each over."

Brando and Tarita Teriipaia, Cheyenne's mother, were home and heard the changeable but were not successful the country wherever it happened, authorities said. "We're not definite Christian was wholly sober, but it doesn't look to beryllium immoderate benignant of portion fest," LAPD Lt. Ron Hall told the Los Angeles Times. "There were decidedly nary drugs." (A trial astatine the constabulary presumption aboriginal showed his blood-alcohol level to beryllium .19 percent.)

There were aggregate guns belonging to Christian successful the house, Hall said, and the limb that killed Drollet was a .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol. "Everyone, including Christian, was cooperative," the bull said.

Meanwhile, famed lawyer William Kunstler—a longtime person of Brando's who was representing Christian (and who, incidentally, was played by Mark Rylance successful The Trial of the Chicago 7)—told the Times after the shooting that Marlon called 911 and gave Drollet CPR portion they waited for the ambulance.

Christian was arrested and booked connected suspicion of murder. "Some of the facts I've heard conscionable implicit the telephone bespeak it mightiness beryllium self-defense," Kunstler told the LA Times. "I recognize determination whitethorn person been a conflict for the gun, and immoderate beating going connected of Marlon's daughter...He whitethorn person been defending his sister."

A person of Drollet's told the Times that helium had nary recollection of the deceased ever being abusive toward Cheyenne.

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Marlon Brando's Hard-to-Follow Family Tree

Brando and his archetypal wife, Anna Kashfi, had a long, bitter custody battle—one day, she slapped Brando successful court successful beforehand of everybody, including reporters—over Christian aft they divorced successful 1959. Their lad remembered the tumult vividly years later. "I've been coming done those doors since I was a kid," Christian told the LA Times in 1991, referring to being successful and retired of tribunal with his warring parents.

They were lone joined for a fewer years, and "I deliberation they joined due to the fact that she was pregnant," Sarah Broughton, writer of the publication Brando's Bride, about Kashfi, told Fox News in 2019. "At that point, it was inactive precise scandalous for a pistillate to person a kid without being married. And it would person been scandalous for him, too, not being joined to the parent of his child. He told friends that helium didn't deliberation the matrimony would last. But helium truly wanted a baby, truthful helium would springiness it a go."

The writer noted however the newspapers astatine the clip dutifully chronicled their tumultuous custody proceedings, which lasted for years. "They were seen arguing successful schoolhouse and were conscionable highly volatile with each other," Broughton said. "[Kashfi] testified successful tribunal she had breached into his location and smashed his table. On different occasion, helium had breached into a edifice country wherever she was staying with her lad and took their child."

Bettmann / Getty Images

First Kashfi, who died successful 2015, was fixed custody of Christian, but what a justice called her "reliance connected drugs and alcohol" and related choler issues resulted successful Brando being granted full custody erstwhile the lad was 13—the property astatine which Christian later recalled embarking connected what would be his ain life-long conflict with alcoholism and drug use.

Brando married Movita Castaneda in 1960 and they had 2 children together, lad Miko successful 1961 and, after the histrion had joined Teriipaia, daughter Rebecca in 1966.

"My family's truthful weird and spaced out," Christian told the LA Times in 1991, recalling summers spent moving astatine his dad's edifice connected Tetiꞌaroa, the French Polynesian atoll Brando bought successful 1966, having fallen successful emotion with the country portion shooting Mutiny connected the Bounty in Tahiti. "We'd person caller additions each the time. Like I'd beryllium down astatine the array with each these unusual radical and say, 'Who are you?'"

Eric BONAMY/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images

Though immoderate reports from 1990 inactive referred to Teriipaia arsenic Brando's wife, she had divorced him successful 1972 aft 10 years of marriage. Before Cheyenne was born, they had lad Simon Teihotu Brando together successful 1963.

Brando later had 3 children—daughter Ninna successful 1989 and sons Myles in 1992 and Timothy successful 1994—with his longtime housekeeper Maria Cristina Ruiz, and adopted his longtime assistant Caroline Barrett's girl Petra.

"My ma was his woman for 7 years," Petra explained successful a 2019 interview for, "and for implicit 25 years she was his close manus and champion friend, she worked with him connected determination doing his dialog and organized each facet of his life."

In her 2005 memoir Marlon, My Love, My Suffering, published the twelvemonth aft helium died, Teriipaia alleged that Brando had primitively wanted her to get an termination erstwhile she got large with Simon, but she refused. She wrote that, contempt their divorcement and his galore consequent relationships and dalliances, Brando remained a ascendant beingness successful her beingness for the remainder of his, adjacent erstwhile she tried to determination connected romantically.

"We lived unspeakable tragedies and we each suffered a lot," Teriipaia said successful a speech with her co-author Lionel Duroy for Paris Match erstwhile the publication came out, according to Reuters. "Marlon ne'er spoke astir it. I wanted our children, each our grandchildren to cognize our history." 

Was it Murder?

At his arraignment, Christian pleaded not blameworthy to charges of murder and amerciable possession of a instrumentality weapon and a silencer.

"He feels unspeakable astir it, arsenic anybody would," Kunstler told the LA Times (from New York, portion assorted different attorneys represented Christian successful L.A.). "It's 1 of those tragic circumstances that happens successful families sometimes."

In the days aft the shooting, investigators disputed the defense's contention that Dag had been changeable portion reaching for the weapon during a conflict with Christian. Rather, they said, Dag had been sitting down with the TV distant successful 1 manus and a cigaret lighter successful the different erstwhile helium was changeable successful the face, and determination were no signs of a struggle.

"The TV was inactive on," Los Angeles Fire Capt. Tom Jefferson said. "It was flipping channels similar helium was inactive pushing the buttons."

Added LAPD Detective Andy Monsue, "There was nary carnal maltreatment ever involved."

Christian ended up spending 3 months successful jailhouse earlier being released connected bail that August, Brando putting up the deed to his property arsenic collateral.

Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty Images

Christian Brando Faces His Fate

Christian ended up pleading blameworthy to the lesser number of voluntary manslaughter successful January 1991.

"This is simply a precise affectional time for Christian," lawyer Robert Shapiro (who'd spell connected to beryllium a subordinate of O.J. Simpson's execution defence squad starting successful 1994) told reporters extracurricular the courthouse. "Not lone has helium admitted to a manslaughter, but helium admitted it to the full world."

Brando, who had been successful tribunal connected astir days pertaining to the case, wasn't contiguous for his son's plea, arsenic helium was "in nary affectional presumption to travel retired today," Shapiro said.

The plea bargain was agreed to aft Cheyenne, who gave commencement to lad Tuki in June 1990,, was declared mentally incompetent, and truthful incapable to testify, successful December by a French tribunal successful Tahiti, wherever she had returned to unrecorded after Drollet's death. She had attempted twice to instrumentality her ain beingness that November.

"She was placed yesterday nether conservatorship," Cheyenne's lawyer Michael Nasatir told the justice in Santa Monica Superior Court aft the ineligible improvement successful Tahiti, per the LA Times. "She has been declared incompetent to grip her ain affairs," including the attraction of her baby.

Cheyenne was going to beryllium a witnesser for the prosecution. She told investigators, according to tribunal documents reported connected by UPI, that her boyfriend's death "was not an mishap similar everyone was trying to marque it retired to be...It's a murder, successful lawsuit you don't cognize it."

Her absence "pretty overmuch changed the complexion of the lawsuit and made the plea thing we could accept," Assistant District Attorney Bill Clark told reporters.

On the eve of his sentencing proceeding the pursuing month, Christian, who was facing a maximum of 16 years successful prison, told the Los Angeles Times successful an interview, "I'm nervous, I'm frightened to death. But I'm not trying to get retired of anything—I already said 'guilty.'"

"It's a calamity and I bash consciousness bad," the 32-year-old insisted. "If I could springiness my beingness to person him travel back, I'd bash it, but there's thing I tin do. I person to unrecorded with this for the remainder of my life, I aftermath up with it and spell to slumber with it."

He had been sober for 9 months and going to AA meetings, helium said, adding, "My full family, but for my father, is alcoholic. I've been doing beauteous good, though I miss coming location and having a fewer beers."

Christian, who bypassed acting and worked arsenic a welder, said his begetter had been "helping maine done this, supporting maine arsenic a friend...He was determination for me. And who americium I? I'm nobody."

He besides alleged that Cheyenne had told him Drollet was abusive, but by then, helium said, helium was doubting whether that was true.

"I did not spell into that country to termination Dag Drollet," helium insisted. He hardly knew him, successful fact. "I conscionable wanted to scare him," Christian said.

Marlon Brando Slams Christian's Mother, Pleads for Leniency for His Son

In affectional grounds fixed during Christian's sentencing hearing, Brando admitted to marrying his son's parent due to the fact that she was pregnant. 

"I led a wasted life," the then-66-year-old said. "I chased a batch of women and she was precise jealous." She was "probably the astir beauteous pistillate I've ever known." But she besides "came adjacent to being arsenic antagonistic a person, and arsenic cruel and unhappy a person, arsenic I've met successful this life."

The histrion told the court, "Perhaps I failed arsenic a father. The inclination is ever to blasted the different person. There were things I could person done differently...I did the champion I could."

Bettmann / Getty Images

His lad whitethorn person had his problems, Brando said, but helium wasn't immoderate spoiled affluent brat, either. "Of each my children—and I person nine—Christian is the kid who from the precise opening has been the astir independent," the two-time Oscar winner said. "I've offered wealth to Christian and helium wouldn't instrumentality it...He wanted his ain individuality and helium worked hard to get it."

From the basal Brando besides tearfully apologized successful French to Drollet's family.

Before being sentenced, Christian addressed the Drollets successful court, "I'm sorry. It's not my family, it's me. I'm astatine responsibility successful this. If I could commercialized places with Dag, I would."

L.A. Superior Court Judge Robert W. Thomas gave him 10 years successful prison, six for the manslaughter and 4 for aggravating circumstances for utilizing a gun, calling it "a tragic concern for some families, for Christian Brando."

The Tragic Aftermath

Brando released his memoir successful 1994, to overmuch fanfare, but immoderate heavy lows were inactive to come.

While her member was successful prison, Cheyenne died by termination astatine her mother's location successful Tahiti on April 16, 1995. Her lad Tuki, past 4, was being raised by Drollet's parents.

EMILE GAUBERT/AFP via Getty Images

Christian was released connected parole successful January 1996 aft serving little than 5 years. He died from complications of pneumonia successful January 2008 astatine the property of 49.

Brando, who died July 1, 2004, astatine 80, lamented in an audio recording unearthed successful the 2015 documentary Listen to Me Marlon, "Christian was burdened with affectional disorders and intelligence disarray, the benignant of occupation that I had successful life."

The sidesplitting of Cheyenne's fellow on May 16, 1990, and the crime's endlessly tragic consequences figured prominently successful the film, director Stevan Riley telling British GQ, "The unspeakable happening that happened astatine that location that nighttime is the perfect intersection astatine which to cross-examine the themes concerning Marlon Brando's myth."

But those who loved Brando successful life, warts and all, were blessed to spot what they felt was the real him travel crossed after he spent his days alternately courting and shirking the spotlight, a paradox that resulted successful much rumors and assumptions than thing else.

The actor's girl Rebecca told the magazine, "He would person been proud, I hope" of the film. "He knew those tapes would beryllium recovered and utilized successful immoderate way—he was nary dummy. I consciousness this was his document, his diary unlocked for america to discover. He could person destroyed them if helium wanted to. In a way, the movie is my begetter coming backmost to us, a precise idiosyncratic portion of his legacy."

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