Birthday: May 11, 1958
Died At Age: 49
Sun Sign: Taurus
Also Known As: Christian Devi Brando, Gary Brown
Born in: Los Angeles, California
Famous as: Son of Marlon Brando
Height: 1.75 m
Spouse/Ex-: Deborah Presley (m. 2004–2005), Mary McKenna (m. 1981 – div. 1987)
father: Marlon Brando
mother: Anna Kashfi
siblings: Angelique Brando, Cheyenne Brando, Dylan Brando, Lisa Brando, Michael G. Gilman, Miko C. Brando, Myles Jonathan Brando, Ninna Priscilla Brando, Rebecca Brando, Simon Teihotu Brando, Stephen Blackehart, Timothy Gahan Brando, Warren Brando
children: Michael Brando
Died on: January 26, 2008
place of death: Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center Emergency Room, Los Angeles, California
U.S. State: California
City: Los Angeles
Christian Brando was the eldest son of actor-director, Marlon Brando, and his first wife, Anna Kashfi. He came into limelight for killing his half-sister’s boyfriend. Christian’s life had been a tragedy from the very beginning, crushed between his warring parents, who divorced within a year of his birth; but continued to fight over his custody for twelve years. Growing up among plenty with little personal attention, he started drinking and taking drugs while still in school. At sixteen, he left school and moved to Kalama, where, away from celebrity culture and warring parents, he found a degree of peace. Later he returned to Los Angeles and started acting in films and television series. It was during this time that he killed his half-sister’s boyfriend because he believed he had been slapping her around. After a protracted bargaining, he pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and spent the next five years in prison, moving to Kalama after the end of the period. However, he could not pick up the threads of his life and died penniless at a public hospital at the age forty-nine.
Childhood & Early Life
Christian Devi Brando was born on May 11, 1958 in Los Angeles, California. His father, Marlon Brando Jr. was a noted actor and director, known for his roles in many Academy Award winning films like ‘On the Waterfront’ and ‘Godfather’.
His mother, Anna Kashfi, was an actress with a brief Hollywood career. While it was believed that she was an Indian-American, it later turned out that she was actually an India-born Welsh and her original name was Joan O'Callaghan.
While Christian was his parents’ only child, he was also the eldest of Marlon Brando’s eleven children. His half-siblings were Ninna Priscilla Brando; Myles Jonathan Brando; Timothy Gahan Brando; Miko Castaneda Brando; Rebecca Brando; Cheyenne Brando and Simon Teihotu Brando, Maimiti Brando, Raiatua Brando and Lisa Brando.
Conceived two months before his parents’ marriage, Christian had a miserable childhood. Soon after their marriage, his parents began to fight, becoming increasingly hostile and abusive to each other, disagreeing on every little aspect. While Marlon named his son after his friend, French actor Christian Marquand, Anna called him Devi.
In April 1959, his parents divorced and began to fight over his custody. Initially, Christian shuttled between his parents; but as Anna became addicted to barbiturate and lost her mental stability, Marlon won his temporary custody. But he too failed to give Christian the stability he yearned for.
Marlon Brando had ten more children from his multiple relationships. Christian later said that the family kept changing shape and he would sit down at the breakfast table with unknown people, having to ask who they were. Invariably, they were a brother or a sister he had never met before.
Although Marlon Brando paid little personal attention he provided for him everything that money could buy, sending him to Buckley School in Los Angeles. In late 1968, Christian first tried his hand in acting, appearing in ‘The Secret Life of an American Wife’ and ‘I Love You, Alice B. Toklas!’
In March 1972, when Marlon Brando was in France, Anna had thirteen years old Christian abducted by a group of hippies, whom she promised to give $10,000. But when she failed to pay, they took him to Mexico and hid him in a tent. Later, Christian was rescued from there.
After the kidnapping incident, Marlon won the sole custody of his son; but by then the damage had been done and Christian had started buying guns, afraid that he would be kidnapped once again. Sometime now, he also started taking drugs.
At sixteen, Christian dropped out of school and ran away to Kalama, a small town in the Washington District. When Marlon Brando became aware of it, he whole heartedly approved of it. He later bought a log cabin for his son there.
In Kalama, Christian found the peace that had been eluding him for so long. He loved the forest nearby and enjoyed working with his hand, practicing artistic welding. He also loved fishing. During one of his visits to Los Angeles, he even worked as welder and a tree trimmer.
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Back to LA
When Christian finally returned to Los Angeles, he began living mostly in his father’s home. He also had his own home, which was bought for him by his father. However, he rarely used it, going there only to sleep, mostly letting his drug addict friends and homeless people use it.
Although Christian mostly lived in his father’s house, the relationship between the two men was never cordial. Christian seemed to be weighed down and shrink into a shell when he was near his more famous father.
In his early twenties, he once again tried his hand in acting, appearing as Aaron in ‘The Day Christ Died’, a television film directed by James Cellan Jones (1980). It was followed by a small role in ‘Yentl’, a romantic drama film (1983) and ‘AD’, a television miniseries (1985).
In between acting, he took up various jobs; but could not stick to any, soon becoming more famous for bar brawling. For a period, he even lived in Alaska, where he piloted a barge for a fish processor.
In 1988, as he turned thirty, he inherited $100,000 and an annual allowance from a trust fund set up by his father. Concurrently, he continued acting, enacting small roles in films like ‘La posta in gioco' (1988) and 'Unmasked Part 25' (1989).
1990 was a landmark year in his life. In that year, he appeared in two movies; ‘Wishful Thinking’ and ‘The Endless Game’. Also in the same year, he appeared as himself in one episode of the television series, ‘La parada’. But as he was picking up his life, his luck ran out.
On 19 May 1990, while Christian was having dinner with his half-sister, Cheyenne, at Musso & Frank Grill, she told him that Dag Drollet, her boyfriend of four years, was physically very abusive, often slapping her around. Christian did not realize that she was lying just to grab his attention.
At that time, Cheyenne was eight months pregnant with Drollet’s child. She used to live in Tahiti and had come to Los Angeles only for a visit, putting up at their father’s home in Beverly Hills. Drollet, who came to see her, also put up in the same house.
On their return home at around 11 o’clock, a drunk Christian confronted Drollet, trying to scare him with a gun. According to him, he had no intention of killing him; but the gun went off accidentally and hit Drollet on the face, killing him instantly.
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Marlon Brando tried to revive him; but his effort failed and Christian was charged with murder. Cheyenne, who was said to be suffering from schizophrenia and had severe mental problem since her teens, later admitted that Drollet had not hit her or harm her.
Fearing that Cheyenne might jeopardize Christian’s defense, Marlon had her removed first to Tahiti and then to France, where she was admitted into a mental hospital. It was a strategic move and absence of the key witness limited the prosecution’s ability to prove that the murder was premeditated.
In February 1991, after intense bargaining, Christian pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Although he was initially sentenced to ten years prison term, he was let off after only four and half years, serving his sentence in California Men's Colony, a state prison in San Luis Obispo.
In 1996, Christian Brando was released from prison. His father now sent him to Kalama in Washington State, where young Christian had once found elusive peace. But traumatized by shooting and the subsequent jail sentence, Christian once again took to drugs.
He lived in Kalama for around eight years and during this time, he became addicted to methamphetamine. He also drank heavily and had several brushes with the law.
In 2000, he was arrested for drunk driving and later failed to appear in court, for which he was sentenced to jail for two days and fined $800. In 2001, he was implicated in the murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley, wife of actor Robert Blake; but was later acquitted.
During his stay at Kalama, Christian had little interaction with his father, returning to Los Angeles only after Marlon Brando’s death in July 2004. Initially, he lived with the other members of the family in his father’s house on Mulholland Drive; but was forced to leave it by January 2005.
Sometime in the beginning of 2005, he moved in with his new girlfriend, a Hispanic woman named Donna Geon and lived in her one bedroom apartment off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. He did not enjoy living there, but had no other option because neither of them had any steady job.
In October 2005, he inherited $200,000 from his father’s estate, which fuelled his drinking habit and his friends found it harder and harder to see him. He spent his last years in Geon’s apartment, bickering with her and drinking.
Personal Life & Legacy
On January 28, 1981, Christian Brando married Mary McKenna, whom he met when both were ten years old. The marriage ended in a divorce in 1987.
Possibly in 1999, he met actress Deborah Presley, who claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of Elvis Presley and married her on October 16, 2004. In January 2005, Deborah brought a charge of spousal abuse against him, to which he pleaded ‘no contest’. They had their divorce in June 2005.
Because Christian pleaded no contest, he was ordered to drug and alcohol rehabilitation and placed on three year probation. Although their marriage was annulled they remained in contact.
From 2005 till his death in 2008, Christian lived with Donna Geon, with whom he had a tremulous relationship. On January 11, 2008, Geon found him lying on the floor, barely conscious, unable to breathe. She moved him to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, where he was diagnosed with double pneumonia.
Christian Brando remained in coma at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center until his death on January 26, 2008. At that time of his death, he was forty-nine years old and survived by his mother, Anna Kashfi.
Dressed in a simple flannel suit, Christian Brando was buried at the Kalama Oddfellows Cemetery in Kalama, Washington on February 17, 2008. The ceremony was attended by around fifty people, including his mother and ex-wives.