In October 1957, tinsel town's
hottest property, Marlon Brando, got hitched. His wife originated
from India, the daughter of wealthy Calcutta parents. So exotic
was his new bride she'd been trained in all the classical dances
of Asia. At least, that's the story she fed the handsome
Hollywood icon. In truth, she was Joanna O'Callaghan, an
ex-waitress and model from Cardiff. When Brando discovered the
deception he was furious and the marriage became doomed. It would
last less than a year.
The couple had first met in 1955 during the shooting of The Mountain, a Spencer Tracy film in which Kashfi had a small part. A desultory courtship began which might have remained little more than a passionate fling except that Kashfi became pregnant. In a bid to legitimise the birth, they married. Cynics have asserted that this was as all part of her grand plan to ensnare the heart-throb. If true, then Kashfi goes down in history as the ultimate Cardiff girl on the make.
Their son Christian was born in May 1958; in September of that same year Brando and Kashfi separated. What followed was a bitter custody battle that would last years. During this epic struggle Kashfi would accuse Brando of being a wife-beater; in turn, he pointed out her over-fondness for drugs and booze. Neither of them were ideal parental role models.
The struggle took its bizarrest turn in 1972 when Kashfi effectively had her son kidnapped from school and taken to Mexico, for which she was later arrested. This episode prompted the courts to grant Brando sole custody of Christian. No doubt the protracted custody battle had a profoundly negative affect on their unhappy son, who in 1991 was convicted of the manslaughter of his step-sister's boyfriend. He received a lengthy prison sentence.
Anna Kashfi cut a pathetic figure at her son's trial, telling anybody prepared to listen that Marlon Brando was to blame for the whole unsavoury tragedy. Each day she turned up at the County Jail to visit Christian and each day he steadfastly refused to see her.
Ostracized by her family, Kashfi continues to struggle with her alcohol problems and is now reported to be living alone in a trailer park.
© Anthony Brockway
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