Marlon Brando Allegedly Struggled With Binge Eating And Gluttonous Habits That Affected His Career, And He Once Weighed 400 Pounds

Marlon Brando has long been known as one of the original Hollywood heartthrobs. The handsome actor allegedly struggled with binge eating for most of his life, though, and his weight was always fluctuating.

By Gina Florio2 min read
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Getty/Archive Photos/Michael Ochs Archives

In 1951, Marlon Brando starred in A Streetcar Named Desire, which was originally a controversial play written by Tennessee Williams. Marlon was known for decades after as one of the most handsome, beloved actors of his generation. He went on to start in The Godfather series, Apocalypse Now, and the 1978 version of Superman. He won multiple awards for his work and was a famous political activist. He was also married three times and was known to have many sexual partners. He was the father to 11 children, three of whom were adopted. But there was another part of Marlon's life that was largely kept hidden from the public. He was a habitual binge eater who had some strange gluttonous habits that affected his acting career.

Marlon Brando Allegedly Struggled with Binge Eating and Gluttonous Habits That Affected His Career

Twitter user @obtainerof shared a thread with details about Marlon's eating habits that eventually resulted in him weighing 350 pounds at one point in his life. He called Marlon a "titanic glutton with consumption habits that strike fear into the hearts of ordinary men." He had "truly bizarre behavior" that was a burden on people he worked with on set, and this was something he wrestled with from a young age.

Allegedly, in his 20s, Marlon essentially lived off fast food and peanut butter, which was "consumed by the jar." He enjoyed eating whole boxes of donuts and the chocolate-marshmallow snack called Mallomars. But because he was young and he had a fast metabolism, he was able to burn it off by starving himself before taking on new roles, and he appeared fit and slim on camera. But when he was back into his binge eating phase, "he feasted on cornflakes, breakfast meats, eggs, a quart of milk, bananas and towering stacks of pancakes drenched in an entire bottle of syrup." He was even nicknamed "Branflakes."

When he was directing and acting in a movie, the costume department had a hard time keeping up with his ever-expanding waistline. He would eat two steaks, potatoes, two whole apple pies, and a copious amount of milk for dinner. During the making of Mutiny on the Bounty, which was released in 1962, he split the seams of 52 different pairs of pants and he had a plane deliver hams and champagne. He allegedly "rowed out into the lagoon with a 5 gallon tub of ice cream he ate while the director begged him to stop from shore."

At an awards party, Marlon challenged Paul Newman, famous actor and philanthropist who died from lung cancer in 2008, to an egg-eating contest. This arose from a scene in a film where Paul's character ate 50 eggs. Paul declined Marlon's request, but Marlon brought dozens of eggs to the party anyway and ate 51 of them, all the while insisting that Paul was a "coward and a fraud."

Marlon continued his strange eating habits at night by disguising himself and going out to eat six hot dogs at a time on the streets of Los Angeles. Allegedly, while he was filming Missouri Breaks, Marlon grabbed a live frog out of a pond, took a bite out of it, and tossed it back into the water. At one point, he was getting so large and unhealthy that his girlfriend made him promise he would lose weight. After months of a strict calorie deficit, nothing was happening. She later discovered that Marlon had hired a young man to throw bags of fast food over the walls of his property at night when nobody was looking.

Marlon invented an island snack called "real-life mound bars," in which he cracked open a coconut and poured in chocolate that had been melted by the hot sun. He eventually gained so much weight that he was 400 pounds in his old age. Employees at an LA diner said they saw him come in in a wheelchair and order bacon and egg sandwiches that had no bun—just eggs wrapped in bacon.

Other accounts say that he ate two whole chickens, half a cheesecake, and a pint of ice cream in one sitting. He also loved eating whole boxes of processed snacks and Chinese take-out.

In 2004, Marlon died at the age of 80. He suffered from diabetes, which caused eyesight failure and liver cancer. His death was linked to respiratory and heart ailments. He's still known as one of the great actors of the 20th century, but few know about the lifelong gluttony he struggled with and the strange habits that many people witnessed throughout his career.