Marlon Brando Reportedly Hired a Bodyguard Over Fear of This Co-Star
The two actors somehow managed to work together on a 1955 musical—but they weren't happy about it.
It's not all that shocking to hear that co-stars on a film may have had a spat. And throughout Hollywood history, have been many highly public full-on feuds. But, for a working relationship to get so toxic that one star resorts to hiring private security to protect himself? That's not something that happens every day—even in Hollywood. Back in the mid-1950s, however, Marlon Brando is said to have hired a bodyguard during the making of the 1955 musical Guys and Dolls. And that move only came after he was—reportedly—abducted and threatened by people who one man familiar with the situation believed were working for his co-star. Read on to find out more.
Guys and Dolls got off to a rocky start.
Guys and Dolls stars Brando in the lead role as Sky Masterson and Frank Sinatra as the second lead, Nathan Detroit. The genesis of their personal problems seems to be that Sinatra wanted the part of Sky, and, going into this movie, he was already disappointed after losing out to Brando for the starring role in On the Waterfront, for which Brando won his first Oscar. So, Sinatra was holding a grudge before filming even began.
"Sinatra felt that role was his," James Kaplan, the author of Sinatra: The Chairman told Closer Weekly. "It was really one-sided, with Frank detesting the ground that Brando walked on."
They terrorized each other on set.
Turner Classic Movies host Ben Mankiewicz explained to Closer that Sinatra and Brando had core differences between them. "Sinatra came out of the glamour of Hollywood in the '40s, while Brando was the new breed, who had open disdain for Hollywood," he said. "I don't think Brando came in hating Sinatra, but he grew to."
On the Guys and Dolls set, Sinatra is said to have called Brando "Mumbles" as a less-than-complimentary nickname. Meanwhile, Brando reportedly took aim at Sinatra by purposely messing up his lines during a scene in which Sinatra was consuming a slice of cake, so that he'd have to eat the dessert over and over again. "He definitely did it on purpose," Mankiewicz said. "He was punishing Sinatra for his disruptive behavior." According to Express, Sinatra liked to do as few takes as possible, so Brando knew a tactic like this would bother him.
Matters became more serious after Ava Gardner got involved.
Express reports that the feud between Brando and Sinatra eventually went much further than one forcing the other to eat cake. Supposedly, soon after Sinatra found out that his ex-wife Ava Gardner had visited Brando in his dressing room, Brando was abducted and threatened.
As reported by Express, the biography Brando Unzipped by Darwin Porter shares the account of the actor's friend Carlo Fiore. Fiore said that, one night when he was staying at Brando's house, Brando arrived home at 2 a.m. looking "like he'd just visited hell and escaped with his life." According to Fiore, the On the Waterfront star explained that he had stopped at a rest stop while riding his motorcycle and a group of men pulled a gun on him and forced him into a car.
Fiore recounted, "Marlon told me, 'One of the goons told me he was going to offer me a choice. He could kill me, a quick and easy death with a bullet in the heart. Or else he'd let me live. If he let me live, he'd castrate me and carve up my face so that no plastic surgeon could ever repair it… Marlon told me he had never been so frightened in all his life, 'I was sweating blood. I also [expletive] my pants.'"
Fiore believes Sinatra was behind it.
According to Fiore, the men didn't follow through on their threat to Brando. They left him on the side of a road and he had to find his way back home. Other than bruises, he was uninjured.
"I'm sure Sinatra was behind this whole thing," Fiore claimed. "He threatened and intimidated other people in his life—or so I hear. Why not Marlon? His arch-enemy number one…"
It was often rumored that Sinatra had mafia ties, though he repeatedly denied it. As History reports, the singer's FBI file was made public after his death, and it shows that the agency monitored his friendships with certain figures in organized crime.
After the incident, Fiore said Brando gave Sinatra "a wide berth" and hired a bodyguard to protect himself. Guys and Dolls was ultimately a success, but—unsurprisingly—the two actors never shared the screen again.