Marlon Brando’s First Appearance On Larry King Live

For a while now, I’ve had this quiet fantasy of being a great TV interviewer, one of the greatest jobs in the world.  I always imagine myself talking to the most interesting people; the famous and the infamous.  I think about who would give me a hard time and who would be a pleasure to grill.  I may never get to do it in real life which is too bad because I could do a way better job than Larry King, the master of the softball interview.
That’s a nice way of introducing this previously unseen piece from 1994.  It was an assignment for one of my support classes at Mohawk College.  We had to write a straight news story, without adding opinion, for Mohawk’s student newspaper, The Satellite.  I decided to report on Marlon Brando’s famous appearance on Larry King Live which aired live on October 7, 1994.  It was a rare interview that wasn’t broadcast directly from Larry’s famous studio setting.  (It took place outside on Brando’s property.)
I watched the show twice.  I taped the live broadcast at 9 p.m. as I watched it for the first time like everybody else who tuned in that night and then watched it again the following morning on VHS.  At the bottom of the article, I listed a bunch of meaningless but funny statistics I gathered based on observations of this particular program.  This was done in anticipation of Entertainment Weekly, my favourite magazine at the time, doing the same thing for their own report, something they would do from time to time after a certain show aired.  Much to my surprise, they didn’t do it for the Brando interview. 
The assignment was rated an A+ from Professor Richard Giles – ("Thoroughly excellent writing.  I need say no more but thanks.  You restore my faith in students!") – but unfortunately, it didn’t make it into The Satellite.
Brando did return to the program, which King promised would happen during their initial interview, on April 5, 1996 where he got in trouble for saying the Jews run Hollywood and that they were responsible for exhibiting all kinds of racist stereotypes, excluding Jewish ones, in their movies.  He later apologized for what he said.  He never did interview Larry, as far as I know.   
It’s been a couple of years since Brando’s death at the age of 80 and he is greatly missed.  He remains the most influential actor of the last 60 years. 

By Dennis Earl

There were songs, there were compliments but there was little in the way of insight into the life of a legendary actor. Marlon Brando made a rare appearance on television a few nights ago on CNN’s Larry King Live. He granted this interview (his first in five years) for two reasons. One, it was in his five million dollar contract with Random House, the publishers of his autobiography, BRANDO: SONGS MY MOTHER TAUGHT ME, to grant at least one interview with the media. Secondly, he wanted to be interviewed by Larry King because, according to Brando, King is a genuine interviewer whom he admires greatly.

Wearing red suspenders in honour of his host, Brando mentioned his love for Shakespearean plays and his hatred for performing live theatre. When King attempted to ask specific questions about acting in film, though, Brando hesitated and avoided straight answers.

Brando did praise a few of the actors and directors in the American cinema such as Robert Duvall ("He was willing to fall on his face," he said); Robert De Niro; Harvey Keitel; and even Martin Scorsese ("He is extraordinarily talented, dynamic and has put film in a noticeably higher position," praised Brando).

Most of the interview focused on Brando’s political viewpoints. He talked about the problems with overpopulation, carbon dioxide and the mistreatment of Native Americans.

Avoiding the touchy questions, King played it safe by asking Brando why he hates doing interviews. "The interest is in the money," came the response. He also asked for his opinion on awards such as the Oscar. Brando said that he didn’t believe in these types of awards because he doesn’t think he’s any better than any other actor or boom guy in Hollywood. On being famous, Brando admitted that he has lost his identity in the real world and felt miserable when he first gained recognition. This resulted in many sessions with psychoanalysts, according to the actor.

No questions were asked concerning the recent murder trial of Brando’s son Christian, who is still serving time in prison. Nor were there any comments concerning the autobiography, his love affair with Marilyn Monroe and countless other women, the films he made or his private life.

The program, which was broadcast live from Brando’s home in California, ended with a mouth-to-mouth smooch and two promises: King promised to interview Brando again in the future and Brando said that he would conduct his own interview with King on a future show. Here are some statistics from the broadcast:

Number of times Brando said "fuck": 1

Number of times Brando said "What?": 12

Number of times King and Brando sang: 2

Number of times King said Brando was "wonderful": 3

Number of times Brando chewed and sprayed his cookie crumbs while talking: 1

Number of times that Brando said "If I was Joe Schleb, I wouldn’t be sitting here.": 1


Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Saturday, November 25, 2006
9:09 p.m.
Published in: on November 25, 2006 at 9:29 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. […] more so than any of the other ones.  (Interestingly, several other Windows Live-era pieces like Marlon Brando’s First Appearance On Larry King Live, Zoo Station (Short Story), and a couple of the Seinfeld DVD trivia postings, among a few others, […]

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