The Weekend Australian - Review - - Arts -

READ­ING Ste­fan Kan­fer’s ex­cel­lent new bi­og­ra­phy of Mar­lon Brando, Some­body , re­minds me of one ad­ven­ture that isn’t there: my own ef­forts to se­cure Brando’s mem­oir for Ran­dom House dur­ing my time as pres­i­dent and pub­lisher. I was one of any num­ber of New York sup­pli­cants who trekked to Los An­ge­les in Fe­bru­ary 1991 to per­suade the reclu­sive 66-yearold star that their im­print was the only one ca­pa­ble of do­ing jus­tice to his life story.

Be­fore I flew to LA, I’d been warned by oth­ers that Brando had con­tempt for any­one sug­gest­ing he was an act­ing ge­nius. In his eyes, act­ing was a com­mon­place skill and the whole ad­mir­ing East Coast es­tab­lish­ment was pop­u­lated by phonies.

Brando’s go-be­tween, the el­e­gant pro­duc­erdi­rec­tor Ge­orge Englund, had said we’d meet for an hour at Brando’s house on Mul­hol­land Drive at 7pm, but not eat. As Englund put it, ‘‘ Mar­lon has a girth prob­lem.’’

I was to press a but­ton on a post and the iron gates would swing open. They didn’t.

I was about to de­part when a fa­mil­iar voice wafted out of the bushes fol­lowed by the 140kg bulk of the God­fa­ther, wear­ing a leather jacket, a red silk square stuffed in the top of his open white shirt, and his hair tied up in a short pony­tail. Englund was be­hind, the bean­pole

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