Tarita Teriipaia is a former French Polynesian actress of Chinese descent who is best known as the third wife of American actor, film director and political activist Marlon Brando. In 1962, she appeared opposite him as his love interest in the American Technicolor epic historical drama film ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’. For her role as Princess Maimiti, she received she received a 'Golden Globe' nomination for 'Best Supporting Actress'. While she wanted to act in more films, and had signed a deal with MGM, Brando wanted her to leave show business. During her short stint in the entertainment industry, she has often been billed as Tarita only. She has been featured in documentaries and TV movies like 'Listen to Me Marlon' and 'Brando'. In 2004, a few months after Brando's death, she published her memoirs in French with the title 'Marlon, My Love and My Torment'. She is currently the only surviving wife of Brando, as both his previous wives, Movita Castaneda and Anna Kashfi, passed away in 2015.
The Meteoric Rise to Stardom
Tarita Teriipaia started her career as a floor show dancer when she was only a teenager. At the time she was discovered, she was working as a dishwasher at a resort near Papeete, Tahiti. She made her film debut opposite Marlon Brando in the 1962 film ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’. Brando was immediately infatuated by her, and it is her on-and-off relationship with the famed actor that has kept her in the news over the years.
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Tarita Teriipaia was born on December 29, 1941 in a bamboo hut in the village Vaitape, in Bora Bora, French Polynesia. Her father Teriichira was a fisherman. She was one of seven children of her parents and had five brothers and one sister.
She met Marlon Brando while shooting for their film ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’. At only 18 year old, she reportedly won over 20 years older Brando with her naïveté. However, it took Brando some efforts to convince Teriipaia as she was troubled by his promiscuous lifestyle. On August 10, 1962, they got married and she became his third wife after Movita Castaneda and Anna Kashfi. Instead of moving to Hollywood, she went back to Tahiti and the couple spent only a few months together each year.
With Brando, she had two children, one son named Simon Teihotu Brando, born in 1963, and one daughter named Tarita Cheyenne Brando, born in 1970. Her husband bought an estate for her in Tahiti and regularly visited his family there. He also loved to go fishing with his son. She also had another daughter, Maimiti, with a French man named Jean Claude. In 1981, she adopted her brother's daughter Raiatua after he abandoned her. Her son Teihotu reportedly gave in to smoking, drinking and even drugs, however, Cheyenne was very studious.
Troubled Relationship with Brando
In her memoir, 'Marlon, My Love and My Torment', Tarita Teriipaia opened up about her relationship with the renowned actor, who had led a rather secretive life. They had a troubled relationship of 43 years that ended with Brando's death in 2004. In between, they separated a few times, finally divorced, and had to go through family tragedies. She also revealed that the actor switched moods rapidly and even resorted to physical or mental cruelty on many occasions. However, she claims that despite all that they loved each other in their own ways.
Brando reportedly did not want their first baby so soon as he was already having trouble with his past relationships. He later changed his mind, but cheated on her by keeping company of other women. Furious, Teriipaia started dating another young man, but Brando will always spy on her and eventually disrupt her relationships with other men. In the 1970s, he began cozying up with her again and expressed his intention of having a daughter with her, as he already had many sons. However, the baby was conceived via artificial insemination as Brando would not make love to her as she dated other men. While she was happy that he was back with her, after the birth of Cheyenne, he once again left her.
She then met Jean Claude, with whom she will have another daughter named Maimiti in 1976. After Brando came back, his attitude made Claude leave Teriipaia and Maimiti. While initially irritated about her decision to have the child, he eventually adopted Maimiti. Cheyenne was very close to her father, but he reportedly started avoiding her after adopting a daughter named Petra. Cheyenne was dating Dagobert Drollet, who was killed by her half-brother Christian Brando while drunk. She was pregnant at the time, and gave birth to Tuki Brando, who grew up to be a model. Cheyenne, however, suffered from depression, and committed suicide in 1995.