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Marlon Brando (1924 -- 2004)

Brando was born in Omaha, Nebraska. His mother was an actress, and he followed his sisters to New York to study drama. He was a natural talent, an instinctive actor, winning plaudits for his early performances in Broadway plays. In the 1950s, he answered Hollywood's call, bringing to life moody, rebellious, unsmiling, career-defining characters in A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront and The Wild One.

Brando showed that you could be a leading man with more than just matinee idol looks: he attributed a darker, more complex underbelly too. His brooding, brilliant, rather dangerous, presence embodied the iconic Don Vito Corleone in Francis Coppola's multi-Oscar® winner, The Godfather (1972). During that decade, Brando also starred in Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris and Apocalypse Now, again for Coppola, while in 1978 he fulfilled a highly paid cameo as Jor-El, the hero's father, in Richard Donner's Superman.

His last film was The Score (2001) with Robert De Niro. Brando's private life was often turbulent. He married three times, fathered several children, and supported with passion a range of social and environmental causes. An overweight recluse in later years, he died aged 80 in hospital in Los Angeles on 1 July 2004, and his passing made front page news across the world.

The legend endures: Brando's 50-year film career embraced a handful of all-time classics. He will be respected forever as one of the 20th century's most inspirational, influential acting greats.