During an eight-year affair with actress Rita Moreno, Marlon Brando married three other women, divorced two of them, reportedly forced lover Rita Moreno to have an abortion, and dumped her after she tried to kill herself.
Eventual Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony winning Moreno met Brando during the filming of the 1954 movie Desiré when she was 22 and he was 30. For a Closer Weekly article about Brando’s predatory sex life, Moreno said, “Our sensual life was unbelievable. We were obsessed with each other.” The obsession appears to have run strictly one way since in the same breath Moreno says, “…but I couldn’t take the humiliation of him being with other women. I tried to kill myself.”
Three years ago, when her Moreno published her tell-all autobiography, she told celebrity journalist Josh Zepps about the time Brando impregnated her and then pressured her into an abortion.
She said, “[Brando’s] response was to say ‘you have to get an abortion, you must get an abortion.’”
She said the abortion was botched with the dead child still inside her, a life-threatening situation. She said Brando’s reaction was to be “furious” at the abortionist. She said Brando even demanded his money back from the back-alley butcher.
Still suffering from the botched abortion, Moreno tried but failed to kill herself in Brando’s house by taking all of his sleeping pills. Almost immediately afterwards, Brando began an affair with the woman who would become his third wife and third divorcée on the set of Mutiny on the Bounty.
The Closer cover story looks at “22 Women He Loved and Destroyed”—destroyed largely because of his “insatiable sexual appetite,” what biographer Susan L. Mizruchi calls an “addiction.” Brando biographer Peter Manso said, “He wasn’t drawn to stable people. I came up with 22 women he had relationships with that either attempted or committed suicide.”
Moreno survived the tumultuous affair, the botched abortion, and the suicide attempt. Shortly after Brando dumped her, West Side Story made her an enormous star, which she remains—still working at 84—having just worked with Gena Rowlands in Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks.
In 1965, Moreno married cardiologist Leonard Gordon who died in 2010.
Follow Austin Ruse on Twitter @austinruse.