Books: The Insider
Columnist Eddie Sherman chronicles Hollywood in Hawai‘i.
One of my favorite Marlon Brando stories involved my mother, Bessie. This was in 1960. … [My wife] Peggy was cooking our dinner when the phone rang. It was Brando. “I just got in from Tahiti, and I’m hungry. … Pick me up.”
When I came home and walked into our kitchen, Peggy had a hot meal, beef stew, just about ready. My mother was bent over trying to put a garbage bag in the pail when I introduced her to Brando.
She looked up, smiled, said hello, and continued with her garbage bag problem. Brando, ever sensitive to people’s reactions to him, realized quickly that my mother had no idea who he was.
He loved it. This was a challenge. A chance to win her over. While my mother was struggling to get the bag in the pail, Brando stepped in. “Excuse me,” he said. “You’re doing it wrong. … I’m an expert at putting bags into garbage pails.”
“Okay, mistah,” said Bessie. “Show me.”
Brando proceeded to “show” her. He ad-libbed a whole routine of double-talk, acting out special moves needed to properly install a garbage bag into a pail. … We watched, holding back our laughter so as not to spoil the show. His routine last a good five minutes or more.
When he finished, my mother thanked him, turned to me and said, “Such a nice, smart man.”
Brando was happy. He had won her over.
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