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He Was a Contender

By chicago_chris in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 2, 2004 8:54PM

2004_07_movies_brando.bmp Acting legend Marlon Brando, known for being as much of a character offscreen as on it, died yesterday at age 80. Over his long, storied career – which helped define modern American movie acting – he worked with some of film's best directors (Elia Kazan, Bernardo Bertulucci, Francis Ford Coppola) in some of their best works (On the Waterfront, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris). One of the sexiest men to ever wear a wifebeater – Chicagoist says this with the utmost security in our heterosexuality – he was raised in our own great state of Illinois (first Evanston, then Libertyville). From the land of Lincoln, he went on to a Minnesota military academy (from which he was expelled) and moved off to New York at study at the Actor's Studio, an institution he helped make famous.

In his later years, Brando became known more for his indulgence – with both his diet and his art – electing only to take high-paying cameo roles in films like Superman and The Score. Reports even surfaced that he refused to take direction and would have his lines fed to him via an earpiece. But his performances in A Streetcar Named Desire and Guys and Dolls, not to mention his larger-than-life personality, are what will live on. And for a real undiscovered treat, rent the hilarious comedy The Freshman, in which Brando does a delicious parody of his own Don Corleone role. For all the weirdness and rawness he brought to the staid world of Hollywood, he will be missed.