In addition to being one of cinema's all-time greatest actors, Marlon Brando ranks as one of Hollywood's all-time great weirdos. Insane Marlon Brando tales from the set of films like The Island of Dr. Moreau go great lengths to telling just how bizarre weird-ass method actors get. Indeed, a spate of crazy Marlon Brando facts reveals he ranks among the great Hollywood lunatics, alongside Dennis Hopper, Sean Penn, Nic Cage, and even Steven Seagal.
These crazy facts, about the insane - yet brilliant - Brando, who revolutionized the craft of acting, range from his obsession with farting to tales of his difficult and strange on-set behavior and his plans to harness the electrical power of eels. Brando was indeed one of a kind, the linchpin between old and new Hollywood, and yet, like the scandals of old Hollywood, many of his eccentricities have vanished in the fog of time, replaced by his totemic image in the iconography of American film legends.
Upon the release of his autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me, Brando was stunned and upset to discover he was contractually obligated to do at least one media appearance to promote the book (during the interview, he called the process "beating a drum for some product"). He chose Larry King Live because King was “forthright, sincere, and direct and unexploitative”, and their chat became one of the most iconic of King’s 50,000+ interviews.
Brando was playful and relaxed during the conversation. He kicked off his shoes and put his bare feet up on an ottoman (and said, "You can't see my feet, can you? I forgot to put my shoes on."). He sang the songs his mother taught him (King sang with him, and Brando said "You're off key" in the middle of their duet). He said, "If the dog hadn't stopped to pee, he might have caught the rabbit." On The Godfather, Larry King said "You're not a mafia kingpin," to which Brando replied "Yes I am."
What else happened? Brando tried to get King a tissue to wipe away his sweat (and mused aloud why King sweat more than him), said he took up acting because it pays really well and he didn't know what else to do, suggested he would say no to the role of Jesus Christ playing Mary Magdalen, and asked King whether or not he (Brando) was a product being sold on the show. He also tried to turn the interview around, and when King said "The subject is you," Brando replied, "Not necessarily, because the audience would really like to know what it is that makes Larry King tick."
The warm, bizarre, endearing affair ended with a legendary kiss between King and Brando. Unexploitative indeed!
In his final, ailing years, Marlon Brando formed a friendship with Michael Jackson, and came to consider Neverland Ranch his second home. Brando’s son Miko worked as a security guard at the ranch, and remarked after his father's death, “the last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time, it was with Michael Jackson.”
It was later reported that, on September 11, 2001, Marlon Brando, Michael Jackson, and Elizabeth Taylor shared a rental car to escape New York City. Brando and Taylor were in New York at the time to appear as guests at Jackson's shows at Madison Square Garden, and the trio allegedly drove all the way to Ohio together. According to Vanity Fair's Sam Kashner, "Brando allegedly annoyed his colleagues by stopping at every KFC and Burger King they passed along the highway. One can only imagine the shock their appearance caused at gas stations and rest stops across America."
The story of the weirdest road trip of all time has recently (and unfortunately) been disputed by those who claim Taylor was never in the car.
For the last thirty years of Marlon Brando’s life, he was next door neighbors with Jack Nicholson. In a 2004 obituary, Nicholson wrote about the decades he spent sharing a driveway, and friendship, with Brando. He remarked Brando was “a brilliant man with a very eclectic mind," and gave “new meaning to the phrase ‘Good fences make good neighbors.’”
What stood out most to Nicholson was Brando’s love of pranks. Nicholson writes most of the pranks must remain private. "Some of those pranks will have to remain private. I'm lifelong trained not to talk much about Mr. Brando – that's the way he liked it, and that's the way I always was about him. It's private stuff."
Nicholson does, however, share a favorite April Fools’ Day Prank Brando pulled, during which he convinced Nicholson he was selling his home to someone Nicholson hated. After the prank was revealed, “Marlon never stopped laughing about that time he got me to go completely crazy.”
The two also starred in a film together, 1976's The Missouri Breaks, a notorious flop criticized by Vincent Canby of the New York Times for Brando's "out of control performance," which includes a scene of him feeding a carrot to a horse for his own mouth then barking "I don't love you, you harlot. I'm not even speaking to you." at a nearby donkey before playing a song on a harmonica with his back to the horse (because he loves her so much he can't look her in the eye). The horse proceeds to pee during the performance, to which Brando says "Well, that's a fine thing. You've pissed right in the middle of my love song."
For a brief period of time in 2001, a recently separated Nicholson actually moved in with Brando. During their time as roommates, the 63-year-old Nicholson and 76-year-old Brando were said to have gotten along just fine.
Northern Irish actress Patricia Quinn, who appeared in such groovy counter culture films as Rocky Horror Picture Show and Adolf Hitler: My Part in His Downfall, recalls an especially scandalous story in Marlon Brando, a biography by Peter Manso, about the time Brando gave her a necklace made of human scalp.
Quinn, a romantic partner of Brando’s in the '60s, visited Brando’s trailer on the set of The Appaloosa with Bob Dylan. "The first thing Marlon did was take this thing from around his neck and put it around mine," recalled Quinn. "I looked down and it was a scalp, a real human scalp. Possession is nine-tenths of the law—he was claiming me."
Quinn also claims Dylan asked for a bottle of coke, which Brando opened with his teeth, after which romance blossomed between Dylan and Brando (who was openly bisexual). "I never saw anything, but the word going around then was that Dylan was swinging both ways."