No, sadly, I have not uncovered Marlon’s mythological missing Oscar statuette for “The Godfather”. If only… No, seeing as everyone loved my article about Jack Kerouac’s letter to Brando, I thought I’d share an Oscar-related discovery too.
When I was charged with the job of selecting property from the Estate Of Marlon Brando to include in an auction for Christie’s, no-one had any idea how much memorabilia was left. None of his friends or family knew of any memorabilia that Brando had kept, all we had to go on was a rumour of a bunker in his garden filled with boxes that may or may not contain keepsakes from his movie career. Day two at Brando’s house, another beautiful California day, off we traipsed down the garden to pull open the huge rusting doors of a storage container. I could hardly contain myself. But when we opened the door, all we could see was old carpets, rugs, lamps, furniture. Trying to maintain some excitement, we dug through all these cast-offs from Brando’s home and eventually found row upon row of filing boxes, all marked up with film titles “Mutiny On The Bounty”, “Godfather”, “Apocalypse Now”… Wow! Upon opening the Godfather box, we came across call sheets, letters, and Brando’s own script for the film. Flicking through it, at the back of the script, there was a page annotated by Brando with notes about how he would play the role of Don Corleone:
#through the nose
#Nose broken early in youth to account for difficulty
It was incredible! The script eventually made $312,000 in the auction, a world record price for a film script at auction.
Anyway, over the next three days, as I dug through that bunker, I was still hoping to find one of Brando’s Academy Awards or at least one of his Golden Globes. He won an Oscar for “On The Waterfront” in 1955 and for “The Godfather” in 1973. Brando famously refused his Godfather Oscar and instead sent a woman purporting to be an American Indian named Sacheen Littlefeather on his behalf in protest of U.S. treatment of the American Indians. I did hope that at least the “On The Waterfront” Oscar would still be around somewhere. And right at the end of Day 3 in a rusty old bunker, under a shelf in the very last corner, there was a box simply marked “awards”. My heart raced. Opening it up, we found Brando’s BAFTA for Julius Caesar and his Oscar nomination certificate for “On The Waterfront”. No Oscar statuette but still, some real gems.
So whatever did happen to Brando’s Oscars? I have heard various rumours over the years, that someone else was given his Oscar statuette for “The Godfather” because the Academy ran out of awards that year for some reason. I heard that Brando gave his Oscar for “On The Waterfront” to a sick friend in hospital for doing such a good job of acting up. But who knows? If anyone has any good stories of what may have happened to Brando’s Oscars, then share it with us.
Meanwhile, enjoy this film clip of Brando accepting his Oscar for “On The Waterfront” from Bette Davis in 1955.