Throwback Thursday: Marlon Brando Fell for Tahiti in the 1960s
This story first appeared in the July 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
On July 1, 10 years to the day after Marlon Brando's death at age 80 from pulmonary fibrosis, a 35-villa resort named The Brando (prices start at $4,000 a night) will open on the French Polynesian atoll of Tetiaroa, bought by the actor in 1967. Brando discovered the 1,445-acre Tahitian island, which still is owned by his estate, while making 1962's Mutiny on the Bounty.
The film's tale of an 18th century British mutiny was definitely not, as THR review then predicted, "a long-run, record-breaking hit." The MGM epic cost $19 million ($149 million today) and brought in about half that domestically. Many reports placed the blame for the production's budget doubling on Brando himself: He so dominated the filming that the original director quit; his weight ballooned from 170 to 210 pounds; and his complicated love life became even more tangled when Polynesian co-star Tarita Teriipaia became his third wife while he was still disentangling himself from the first two.
But if making Bounty was something Brando would regret, buying the atoll was not. "For Marlon, Tetiaroa was his paradise," says Mike Medavoy, who was the actor's friend and co-executor of his estate. "It was a place for him to get away from everything. This was especially important to a person who had a whole thing about the difference between being a celebrity and being a human being."