Brando's Biography (Part 5: Final Years)

Brando's notoriety, his troubled family life, and his obesity attracted more attention than his late acting career. He gained a great deal of weight in the 1980s and by the mid 1990s he weighed over 300 lbs. and suffered from diabetes. He also earned a reputation for being difficult on the set, often unwilling or unable to memorize his lines and less interested in taking direction than in confronting the film director with odd and childish demands. On the other hand, most other actors found him generous, funny and supportive.

He also dabbled with some innovation in his last years. Brando had several patents issued in his name from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, all of which are directed to a drum-head tensing device and method, between June 2002 and November 2004. For example see U.S. Patent 6,812,392 and its equivalents.

The actor was a long-time close friend of the entertainer Michael Jackson and paid regular visits to his Neverland Ranch, resting there for weeks. Brando also participated in the singer's solo career thirtieth anniversary celebration concerts in 2001, as well as starring in his 15-minute-long music video "You Rock My World" the same year. The actor's son, Miko, was Jackson's bodyguard and assistant for several years, and is also a friend of the singer. He stated "The last time my father left his house to go anywhere, to spend any kind of time... was with Michael Jackson. He loved it... He had a 24-hour chef, 24-hour security, 24-hour help, 24-hour kitchen, 24-hour maid service."

On July 1, 2004, Brando died at the age of 80. The cause of his death was intentionally withheld, with his lawyer citing privacy concerns. It was later revealed that he died at UCLA Medical Center of respiratory failure brought on by pulmonary fibrosis. He also suffered from congestive heart failure,[18] failing eyesight due to diabetes, and had recently been diagnosed with liver cancer.[19]

Karl Malden, Brando's fellow actor in A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront, and One Eyed Jacks – the only film directed by Brando – talks on a documentary accompanying the DVD A Streetcar Named Desire about a phone call he received from Brando shortly before Brando's death. A distressed Brando told Malden he kept falling over. Malden wanted to come over, but Brando put him off telling him there was no point. Three weeks later Brando was dead. Shortly before his death, Brando had apparently refused permission for tubes carrying oxygen to be inserted into his lungs, which he was told was the only way to prolong his life.

Brando was cremated, his ashes scattered partly in Tahiti and partly in Death Valley.

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