Saturday, September 26, 2009


I picked up Marlon Brando's autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me, at the Orange County Public Library book sale last week for $1. Here are some of the highlights:

"I always thought that if she hadn't been so banged up emotionally, she could have been a great actress and an extraordinarily attractive person, but I think she cared more about fucking and alcohol than about performing . . . I would rather have been dragged over broken pottery than make love to Tallulah."

"Like Blanche [DuBois] she slept with almost everybody and was beginning to dissolve mentally and to fray at the ends physically. I might have given her a tumble if it hadn't been for Larry Olivier. I'm sure he knew she was playing around, but like a lot of husbands I've known, he pretended not to see it, and I liked him too much to invade his chicken coop."

"Marilyn was a sensitive, misunderstood person, much more perceptive than was generally assumed. She had been beaten down, but had a strong emotional intelligence—a keen intuition for the feelings of others, the most refined type of intelligence."

"It seems to me hilarious that our government put the face of Elvis Presley on a postage stamp after he died from an overdose of drugs. His fans don't mention that because they don't want to give up their myths. They ignore the fact that he was a drug addict and claim he invented rock 'n' roll when in fact he took it from black culture; they had been singing that way for years before he came along, copied them and became a star."

"I think he regarded me as a kind of older brother or mentor, and I suppose I responded to him as if I was. I felt a kinship with him and was sorry for him. He was hypersensitive, and I could see in his eyes and in the way he moved and spoke that he had suffered a lot. He was tortured by insecurities, the origin of which I never determined, though he said he'd had a difficult childhood and a lot of problems with his father . . . We can only guess what kind of actor he would have become in another twenty years. I think he could have become a great one. Instead he died and was forever entombed in his myth."

"With her teeth gnawing at my lower lip, the two of us locked in an embrace, I was reminded of one of those fatal mating rituals of insects that end when the female administers the coup de grace. We rocked back and forth as she tried to lead me to the bed. My eyes were wide open, and as I looked at her eyeball-to-eyeball I saw that she was in a frenzy, Attila the Hun in full attack. Finally the pain got so intense that I grabbed her nose and squeezed it as hard as I could, as if I were squeezing a lemon, to push her away. It startled her, and I made my escape."

"Comic genius or not, when I went to London to work with him late in his late, Chaplin was a fearsomely cruel man . . . A Countess from Hong Kong was a disaster, and while we were making it I discovered that Chaplin was probably the most sadistic man I'd ever met. He was an egotistical tyrant and a penny-pincher. He harassed people when they were late, and scolded them unmercifully to work faster . . . Charlie wasn't born evil. Like all people, he was a sum of his genetic inheritance and the experiences of a lifetime. We are all shaped by our own miseries and misfortunes."



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