Marlon Brando’s Former Classmate (and Former President of Warner Bros.) Says The Star Was ‘Arrogant’

THE MEN, Marlon Brando, on set, 1950
Everett Collection

Alan Shayne was a classmate of Marlon Brando and is now opening up about what Brando was like when he was younger. Shayne, who was also the former President of Warner Bros., details in his memoir The Star Dressing Room: Portrait of an Actor, that Brando was quite “arrogant” and always “showed off” but everyone knew he would become a big star one day. Of course, we all know that Brando became that big star appearing in films such as The Godfather, A Streetcar Named Desire, Superman, and Apocolypse Now. He passed away in 2004.

Shayne shared, “I remember everyone in the class couldn’t stop talking about this guy named Marlon, this showoff. I mean, he was wonderful looking but didn’t do much in class. He was very odd, actually. He would play bongo drums in the hall. … I remember we did this performance where he suddenly took these pair of tights and put a huge bongo drum in it to make himself look pregnant. The entire audience went into pieces laughing, and I was furious. Just very angry with him.”

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, Marlon Brando, 1951.

Everett Collection

He added, “Look, he was impossible to work with. But he was so remarkable early on that you couldn’t help but think, ‘God, what a great actor he would be.’ I remember he did an improvisation of peeling an apple. And he made it seem that there was an apple there. It wasn’t a joke. You saw the peeling going to the floor. You saw him cutting the apple. He was so amazing and gifted. He was a challenge, and I didn’t particularly like him as a person, but he had that star quality from the very beginning before anyone knew it.”

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: Alan Shayne attends the "Double Life" book release party at the 21 Club on October 27, 2011 in New York City

Mark Von Holden/Getty Images

The 97-year-old recalls seeing Brando in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire and said that he was “in awe” of his performance. He could not deny his star power and the fact that he delivered an amazing performance in the film. In his book, Shayne also opens up about meeting some other stars during his long career including Eva Gabor and Katharine Hepburn.

UNDERCURRENT, Katharine Hepburn, 1946

Everett Collection

Shayne talked fondly about Hepburn. He shared, “I think the most wonderful actress I’ve ever known was Katharine Hepburn. She was truly an original. There was nothing artificial about her. You can talk about people like Marlon Brando and Eva Gabor. Katharine was a success too, but she wasn’t a showoff. She was always trying to be a better actress.”

Click here to purchase his memoir.

Classic Hollywood Hunks
Want More?

Classic Hollywood Hunks

September 2019

Cary Grant, Sean Connery, Rock Hudson and Paul Newman, smoldered onscreen and, in addition to being smokin’ hot, they were effortlessly cool.

Buy This Issue