Throwback Thursday: Marlon Brando Fell for Tahiti in the 1960s

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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.

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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.

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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."

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