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Thu, 04.03.1924

Marlon Brando Jr., Actor and Activist born

Marlon Brando

*Marlon Brando Jr. was born on this date in 1924. He was a white-American actor and activist.

Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Marlon Brando Sr., a pesticide and chemical feed manufacturer, and Dorothy Julia Pennebaker. Brando had two elder sisters, Jocelyn and Frances. His ancestry was mostly German, Dutch, English, and Irish. Considered one of the most influential actors of the 20th century, he received two Academy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, one Cannes Film Festival Award, and three British Academy Film Awards.

Brando was also an activist for many causes, notably the American Civil Rights movement and various Native American causes. In the early 1960s, he contributed thousands of dollars to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (S.C.L.C.) and a scholarship fund for the children of slain Mississippi leader Medgar Evers. In 1964 Brando was arrested at a "fish-in" held to protest a broken treaty that had promised Native Americans fishing rights in Puget Sound. For a time, he also donated money to the Black Panther Party and considered himself a friend of founder Bobby Seale.

He also gave a eulogy after the police shot Bobby Hutton. In August 1963, he participated in the March on Washington along with Harry Belafonte, James Garner, Charlton Heston, Burt Lancaster, and Sidney Poitier. Brando also participated in the freedom rides. Brando supported Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 United States presidential election. In 1967, he spoke in favor of children's rights and development aid in developing countries. In the aftermath of the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., Brando made one of the strongest commitments to furthering King's work.

Shortly after King's death, he announced that he was bowing out of the lead role of a major film (The Arrangement) (1969) which was about to begin production, to devote himself to the civil rights movement. "I felt I'd better go find out where it is; what it is to be black in this country; what this rage is all about," Brando said on the talk show Joey Bishop Show. Brando was also a supporter of the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.). At the 1973 Academy Awards ceremony, Brando refused to accept the Oscar for his career-reviving performance in The Godfather. Sacheen Littlefeather represented him at the ceremony. She appeared in full Apache attire and stated that owing to the "poor treatment of Native Americans in the film industry," Brando would not accept the award. This occurred while the standoff at Wounded Knee was ongoing.

The event grabbed the attention of the U.S. and the world media. Its supporters and participants considered this a major event and victory for the movement. Outside his film work, Brando appeared before the California Assembly to support a fair housing law and personally joined picket lines in demonstrations protesting discrimination in housing developments in 1963. He was also an activist against apartheid. In 1964, he favored a boycott of his films in South Africa to prevent them from being shown to a segregated audience. He participated in a 1975 protest rally against American investments in South Africa and for the release of Nelson Mandela. Marlon Brando died on July 1, 2004.

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