According to Marlon Brando’s biographer, William J. Mann, the legendary actor had left school without a diploma and suffered a mild form of dyslexia. But, it turns out that Brando never gave up on educating himself and had amassed a large book collection during his life. And what is even more interesting, he almost always annotated those books.
Now, his quite voluminous collection is up for auction at Bonhams’ Los Angeles Entertainment Memorabilia (June 8). According to ArtNet, among the highlighted lots is a group of 95 Books on acting, film, and theater with notes in the margins in Brando’s handwriting (estimate: $10,000 – 15,000). Included in the group are On Ibsen, Strindberg, and Chekhov by Stella Adler, actress and teacher with whom Brando first studied upon his arrival in New York in the 1940s. Adler had a profound impact on Brando; he often credits her as the person responsible for teaching him how to act. The lot also features Brando’s personal copy of Cat on A Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams, a famed playwright also known for A Streetcar Named Desire, the 1958 film starring Brando. His character in the film, Stanley Kowalski, is an iconic role for which the actor is best remembered, as well as a seminal figure in the history of cinematography.
Bonhams Director of Entertainment Music and Memorabilia Helen Hall commented, “Marlon Brando’s collection of literature bears testament to the man behind the screen. The actor, who was a voracious reader, would regularly write in the margins, whether making notes to further research certain topics or to vehemently express disagreement with the book’s author.”