(Trigger Warning: this post could be triggering to those who have had experience with eating disorders.)
I will argue that Marlon Brando, in the late ’40s and early ’50s, was more attractive than any actor today.
Most of you probably know him best as Vito Corleone from The Godfather.
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I prefer to remember him as Stanley Kowalski in A Streetcar Named Desire. Um. Yes. Please.
And he eventually grew into a pretty obese, odd, little old man.
[ source — yes I pulled this one on purpose because there is a 3rd man that I have a thing for that I didn’t mention above because it’s a different KIND of thing than I have for Brando and Marky Mark — and Brando apparently made his last on-screen appearance in his good friend MJ’s video for You Rock My World in 2001 ]
So what prompted me to write this post was actually The Shining. We were watching it on Friday night (Friday the 13th) and I, of course, had to IMDB everybody in the movie to see what they were currently doing, and I ended up reading the trivia on Jack Nicholson, because he’s one of my favorite actors ever, and saw that he had a bunch of kids. And Mark and our roommate were like, “Whoa,” and I said, “Wait wait wait. Lemme look up Marlon Brando. He had like 25 kids,” (it was 13, which is still a lot, but if Streetcar-era Brando wanted to knock boots, the last thing on my mind probably would have been safe sex … ).
Okay — ’40s Brando fantasies aside, I read all his trivia. Most of which aloud to the guys because a lot of the trivia was ridiculous (there’s something in there about him wanting to be portrayed as a glowing green bagel in Superman).
I kept reading, and laughing, because Brando was far beyond eccentric. And I read about his supposed eating habits (which was one paragraph on IMDB, but I broke into easy-to-digest-chunks for you here — you don’t have to read them all, 2 or 3 will illustrate my point. I’m also not sure how true this info is, since I pulled it from IMDB.):
- … his eating habits were legendary. The Men (1950) co-star Richard Erdman claimed Brando’s diet circa 1950 consisted “mainly of junk food, usually take-out Chinese or peanut butter, which he consumed by the jarful.”
- By the mid-’50s he was renowned for eating boxes of Mallomars and cinnamon buns, washing them down with a quart of milk. Close friend Carlo Fiore wrote that in the ’50s and early ’60s Brando went on crash diets before his films commenced shooting, but when he lost his willpower he would eat huge breakfasts consisting of corn flakes, sausages, eggs, bananas and cream, and a huge stack of pancakes drenched in syrup. Fiore was detailed by producers to drag him out of coffee shops.
- Karl Malden claimed that, during the shooting of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Brando would have “two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode and a quart of milk” for dinner, necessitating constant altering of his costumes. During a birthday party for Brando — the film’s director as well as star — the crew gave him a belt with a card reading, “Hope it fits.” A sign was placed below the birthday cake saying, “Don’t feed the director.” He reportedly ate at least four pieces of cake that day.
- His second wife Movita, who had a lock put on their refrigerator to stop pilfering by what she thought was the household staff, awoke one morning to find the lock broken and teeth marks on a round of cheese. The maid told her that Brando nightly raided the fridge. Movita also related how he often drove down to hot dog stands late at night (one of his favorite spots was the legendary Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood; it was open 24 hours a day, and Brando would go there at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and polish off a half-dozen hot dogs at a time).
- Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) costumer James Taylor claimed that Brando split the seat on 52 pairs of pants during the shooting of the film, necessitating that stretch fabric be sewn into his replacement duds. He split those, too. Ice cream was the culprit: Brando would purloin a five-gallon tub of the fattening dessert, row himself out into the lagoon and indulge.
- On the set of The Appaloosa (1966), Brando’s double often had to be used for shooting after lunch, and filming could only proceed in long shots, as Brando could no longer fit into his costumes.
- Dick Loving, who was married to Brando’s sister Frannie, said that Brando used to eat “two chickens at a sitting, and [go] through bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies.”
- It was reported during the filming of The Missouri Breaks (1976) that the environmentally sensitive Brando fished a frog out of a pond, took a huge bite out of the hapless amphibian, and threw it back into the drink.
- Living on his island of Tetioroa, Brando created what he called “real-life Mounds Bars” by cracking open a coconut, melting some chocolate in the sun, then stirring it into the coconut for a tasty treat.
- By the 1980s there were reports that one of his girlfriends had left him because he failed to keep his promise of losing weight. He seemed to be dieting, but to her astonishment, he never lost weight. She found out that his buddies had been throwing bags of Burger King Whoppers over the gates of his Mulholland Dr. estate late at night to relieve the hunger pangs of their famished friend.
- In the late ’80s Brando was spotted regularly buying ice cream from a Beverly Hills ice cream shop — five gallons at a time. He supposedly confessed that he was eating it all himself. Finally, a reported Brando snack was a pound of cooked bacon shoved into an entire loaf of bread. When Brando became ill, he seriously cut back and lost 70 pounds on a bland diet, but never lost his love of food — especially ice cream.
Wow. Though we laughed hard while we read that, I couldn’t stop thinking about the relationship that this Hollywood legend had with food. It’s pretty similar to the relationship that a lot of us have with food. I was especially mindful of the similarities between the relationships, having read this on Friday, after having somewhat of a long week of bingeing on Easter candy which culminated in eating potato chips with lunch on Friday and a bowl of buttered popcorn (as I read that excerpt).
Honestly after reading about the piles of food that Brando supposedly ate, I felt a little better about myself for eating an extra handful of chips or a few pieces of chocolate here and there this last week — lord knows that there are some days that I’d like to row out into the middle of the lake with a giant tub of ice cream and a spoon.
Some people are famously addicted to drugs. He was famously addicted to food. A lot of us have this same struggle — just maybe not to this extent.
My point is that you don’t have to be a slave to bingeing or food. Marlon Brando got me thinking more about this. I started thinking harder about this recently when I began seeing a nutrition counselor and started work with the competent eating model — which I need to compile into a post soon because I think that way of thinking about food will help a lot of people. And fellow blend-er Tina Reale has a really great series on binge eating that I recently read.
Here are a few things I learned from the sessions with my counselor:
- A lot of us have a binge, then continue to binge all day or all week because “the damage is already done”. That negative thinking won’t help stop the behavior that we’re thinking so negatively about. Then before we know it, we’re knee deep in empty peanut butter jars and bad feelings. Eventually our pants don’t fit. And things just get even worse and continue to spiral out of control.
- Instead of feeling guilty or negative about a binge, just tell yourself to STOP. Use that little voice in your head. Put down the spoon. Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” If the answer isn’t, “Because I’m hungry,” then take all the willpower it takes and put whatever it is you were eating away, and go brush your teeth and find something constructive to do. Sometimes a pause and a thought is all it takes to stop. Pick yourself up and try again tomorrow because it’s a new day.
- And if you are having negative feelings about something you ate, ask yourself, “why?” If it was because you overate past when you were satisfied, then try to start recognizing the signals for being satisfied vs. being full.
- Just because you have a bag of Easter candy in the house doesn’t mean you have to eat it all now. It’s going to be just as good in a month if you have one piece a day. And it will likely be empowering to those of us who have had issues with binge eating to see a half-full bag of Easter candy in the cupboard in May. Because we know we aren’t slaves to it.
- Stopping the “calories in / calories out” way of thinking is extremely important for those of us who have over-exercised or exercised soley because we ate something we “shouldn’t have”. This can lead to injuries, bad feelings about being active, and will likely not stave off the weight gain we are so afraid of since you can’t out-exercise a poor diet.
Ask Mr. Marlon Brando how that went for him.
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[ source … good lord he was gorgeous. ]
Being mindful of what we’re doing while we’re eating and why we’re eating is a major step towards stopping (mentally and physically) unhealthy eating habits. But having a healthy relationship with food is the bottom line, and I’m trying to get there one step at a time.
Have you had any Marlon Brando-esque moments of epic bingeing? Were you able to pick yourself up again?