Marlon Brando didn’t show up to collect his second Best Actor Oscar in 1972 for “The Godfather,” sending an actress in his stead to decline as a protest to Hollywood’s portrayal of Native Americans.
However, back in 1954 Brando was keen to win the award, after being skunked three previous times. His losing streak began in 1951 when his “Streetcar Named Desire” castmates (Vivien Leigh, Karl Malden, Kim Hunter) prevailed in the other three acting categories but Brando was bested by Humphrey Bogart (“The African Queen”). The following year, he lost his bid for “Viva Zapata!” to Gary Cooper (“High Noon”) while in 1953 his nod for “Julius Caesar” was edged out by William Holden (“Stalag 17”).
Brando had been surly and uncooperative while on the derby track those three times. So he switched strategies. First up was the Golden Globes on Feb. 24. As the LA Times reported, “Unusual was the fact that Brando appeared to accept his award.” The Mirror-News added, “Marlon Brando showed up a the banquet wearing impeccably tailored dinner clothes and a charming smile. In fact, he was so downright human that one old hand cracked, ‘What happened to all his false reserve?’”
Brando also won the World Film Favorite award, which was decided by a poll of film fans in 40 nations.
Both of these awards are up for sale this month at Heritage Auctions. Also on offer is the draft of his rejection speech from the 1972 Oscars.
However, Brando’s estate is precluded from selling the Oscar he won for “On the Waterfront” as all winners since 1950 are required to sign an agreement that they will offer the academy right of first refusal.