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April 3, 2024

Rare Photos of Marlon Brando as a Kid From the 1920s and 1930s

Marlon Brando (April 3, 1924 – July 1, 2004, Los Angeles, California) was an American motion picture and stage actor known for his visceral, brooding characterizations. Brando was the most celebrated of the method actors, and his slurred, mumbling delivery marked his rejection of classical dramatic training. His true and passionate performances proved him one of the greatest actors of his generation.

Brando was the youngest of three children born to Marlon Brando Sr. (1895–1965) and Dorothy Pennebaker Brando (1897–1954). His elder sisters were Jocelyn Brando (1919) and Frances Brando (1922). Marlon Brando’s childhood was spent in Omaha, Nebraska until 1935 when his parents separated. Dorothy kept all three children and took them to live with her mother in Santa Ana, California. After two years in California, Marlon Sr. and Dorothy reconciled and reunited the family, settling in a small town close to Chicago called Libertyville, Illinois.

Brando’s early life was neither stable nor particularly easy. His mother, though known as a talented and kindhearted person, suffered from the effects of alcoholism. She worked long hours and was often gone from home. Dorothy Brando worked at the local theater and is known for helping Henry Fonda begin his acting career. Brando and his sister, Jocelyn, spent many hours at the theater and their mother encouraged an interest in acting. From a young age he was able to mimic many different people.

His childhood was marked by a rebellious nature and he was expelled from his high school in Liberty. As a result his father sent Brando to the Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault, Minnesota when Brando was 16 years old. Marlon Sr. had attended this same school when he was younger. It was at Shattuck that Marlon flourished in theater. He also began to do well in academics, the rigorous structure proving to be just what he needed. During his final year of high school, 1943, his rebellious attitude again got the better of him. He was put on probation for talking back to an officer and expelled for breaking his probation. The students, who loved Brando, were angered and fought for him to come back. The school finally invited him back for the end of his education, but Brando decided not to finish.

Brando left Illinois and moved to New York City. Both of his sisters were living in New York, and Jocelyn had already performed on Broadway. Brando enrolled at the American Theatre Wing Professional School, New School Dramatic Workshop, and the Actors' Studio. While at the New School's Dramatic Workshop, Brando had an experience that would change his life. It was here that he met Stella Adler and studied the methods of the Stanislavski System.

Below are some rare childhood photographs of Marlon Brando from between the 1920s and 1930s:


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