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BRANDO: 1924 - 2004: Legendary lover ..to a shambling junk food junkie.

Byline: NATHAN YATES

HE glowered from the silver screen for all to see - a lean, mean sex symbol.

But Marlon Brando grew into a grotesquely overweight recluse who could not bear to look in a mirror.

The slim, dynamic figure of On The Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire ballooned to 28st.

The star whose appetite for women had been legendary was helplessly confined to his bed at his home above Los Angeles, breathing only with the help of extra oxygen.

In the end, his heart gave out. And it was all down to his compulsion to eat.

Tormented by the suicide nine years ago of his drug addict daughter Cheyenne and the dissolute life of his favourite son Christian, he took refuge in comfort-eating on an industrial scale.

Friends, among them the late actor Rod Steiger, were convinced Brando was gripped by an urge to eat himself to death. He was always renowned for his incredible appetite, but it was to turn into addiction. He would order a huge steak dinner - then another. He ate apple pie, ice cream and a quart of milk for dessert, cramming down 15,000 calories a day.

Guzzling enough to feed a family, he would wake up in the night and dine on lobster, beef and chocolate. Hours later, he would down a breakfast of half-a-dozen eggs.

But the grossly fat star became more and more paranoid, hating the way he looked so much that in the end he padlocked his fridge.

Brando, said to be the father of 16 illegitimate children, was terrified that maintenance claims would swallow up his fortune.

He had always attracted women, but his love life was often stormy.

He married actress Anna Kashfi in 1957, but they separated a year later. In 1960 he married Mexican actress Movita Castenada, but left for for Tahitian beauty Tarita Teriipia, who starred with him in Mutiny On The Bounty.

He turned to his Guatemalan housekeeper Maria Christina Ruiz after his two divorces, only to be sued for pounds 70million maintenance.

In the end, food was the only thing Brando felt he could rely on - even though it was to destroy him.

CAPTION(S):

GROSS: By 2000 18st Brando was hopelessly addicted to junk food; FIT: Young Brando skipping, 1951 MAGNET: With Marilyn Monroe in 1955; WIFE NO 1 Fiery actress Anna Kashfi; WIFE NO 2 Mexican star Movita; WIFE NO 3 Beauty Tarita from Tahiti
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 3, 2004
Words:405
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