From her birth to adolescence, Cheyenne Brando was the incarnation of happiness to those who know her. She was cheerful, polite, kind, hardworking and had excellent grades in school. Cheyenne was born on February 20th, 1970 and her mother is Tarita Teriipaia, who met Marlon Brando while filming "Mutiny on the Bounty", in 1960.
Brando fell in love with her quickly but love did not come so fast for Tarita. Eventually Brando wore down Tarita’s defenses through dogged insistence and Tarita fell deeply in love. He wanted her to give him a Tahitian child and within a year of Mutiny’s release, she gave birth to Teihotu in Papeete. Seven years later, though they were no longer sleeping together, Brando wanted Tarita to bear him a second Tahitian child and in 1970 Cheyenne was born by artificial insemination.
Cheyenne Brando, Marlon Brando and Teihotu Brando
Teihotu became Cheyenne’s protector from the moment she was born. As Tarita writes in her memoir, “He is constantly at her side to support her, holding out his arms, opening doors for her. Twenty years later, when Cheyenne would become ill, Teihotu would be the only one to have influence over her, the only one she would listen to, and to whom she would sometimes cry for help.”
Christian Brando & Anna Kashfi
Marlon was already a father to Christian Devi, from his brief marriage with Anna Kashfi. Anna would always called their son Devi and Marlon always called him Christian (after the boy’s godfather, Christian Marquand, the French director and very close friend of Marlon’s). After a brief romance and an unplanned pregnancy, the couple married in Brando's aunt’s front room. It was a very stormy marriage that lasted only 11 months. Despite their divorce being finalised in 1960 they fought heavily over custody of their son Christian. During the acrimonious proceedings Anna produced a photograph allegedly showing Marlon Brando in a homosexual liaison. She also claimed that he had named his son after his gay lover Christian Marquand. The divorce prompted a 16-year custody battle for Christian, five months old at the time of the separation and he found himself a pawn in one of Hollywood's most spectacular matrimonial disputes.
Tugged back and forth between his parents, shuttled between his father's homes in Hollywood and Tahiti, he was often left in the care of Brando's latest girlfriend. In December 1964, after Anna Kashfi attempted suicide, Brando was awarded temporary sole custody of his son, then aged six. This was countermanded by a second judge who ordered Christian into the care of his aunt, a schoolteacher. A third judge, however, handed the child back to Anna Kashfi after reading of her reformed behaviour and reports that Marlon Brando's second wife was about to leave him. In 1972 while his father was abroad filming Last Tango in Paris, Christian was kidnapped by a gang of Anna Kashfi's hippie friends, to whom she had apparently promised to pay $10,000. When she refused to pay them they took the boy to Mexico and was eventually found by a posse of private detectives hired by Brando. They rescued him late one night and returned him to Los Angeles. Back in court his father was awarded sole custody.
Marlon Brando, Anna Kashfi & Christian Brando
Anna Kashfi Discusses Marlon Brando
"Misery Has Come To My House"
Cheyenne Brando & Marlon Brando
Cheyenne tried to be close with her father, writing to him often and trying to arrange to visit Brando when he was not working. Most of all she yearned for her father's attention. Once, when Brando was filming in Toronto, she was elated by his invitation to join him on location. Of course he canceled their planned visit and she took this as another broken promise, another rejection. She jumped in her brother's jeep and sped down the highway.
"I just wanted to be with him," she later explained. "But then he started playing his foolish games and told me I couldn't come. I got so mad at him and that's when I had my accident."
Rounding a curve at 100 miles per hour, Cheyenne rolled the Jeep into a ditch and suffered massive head and facial injuries. Brando had her flown to Los Angeles for treatment and rushed to her bedside while she recovered from extensive plastic surgery. Surgeons managed to fix her broken jaw and reconstitute her torn ear, but Cheyenne’s modeling days were over and her mental illness worsened. After she recuperated she returned to Tahiti, where she was reunited with her ex Dag Drollet and soon became pregnant.
Dag Drollet was a friend of Teihotu’s and the scion of a prominent Tahitian family. The two soon lapsed into drugs as well and within months the lovers were estranged again. Whether it was the effect of the accident or her continued drug use, Cheyenne often was distraught and depressed. She was so angry and jealous that she erupted in violent tantrums.
Brando had been an intermittent father at best, but suddenly he exerted control. He had Drollet bring her to Los Angeles where she could be given the best obstetric and psychiatric care. Drollet was planning on breaking up with Cheyenne, but he nevertheless agreed to accompany her to Los Angeles and stayed for a week or so to help her get settled.
Cheyenne Brando After The Car Crash
May 16, 1990
Christian Brando & Cheyenne Brando
It was thus that the two troubled and emotionally erratic children of Marlon Brando came together at his Los Angeles home, on the night of May 16, 1990. At the center of the tragedy was the figure of their father whom both son and daughter had such complicated feelings towards. Cheyenne, resenting his control, had made a bid for his renewed attention by telling him how unhappy she was with Drollet and complaining that he sometimes beat her. Hearing this allegation repeated by Cheyenne, Christian, acting on his own, took it upon himself to protect his little sister.
Awash with alcohol, he threatened to "bust on" Drollet. Later Cheyenne was in the kitchen when she heard a shot from the den where Drollet was watching television.
"That's it!" Christian said, rejoining her in the kitchen. "I killed him."
The nightmare for Cheyenne was just beginning. A week later a neighbor found her eating powdered bleach in a feeble suicide attempt. She then told a police detective... "It's murder in case you don't know it."
Brando whisked her back to Tahiti, putting her beyond the reach of American authorities as a witness at Christian's trial. Two more suicide attempts would come later, once with pills and once when she tried to hang herself with a dog chain.
The media frenzy that followed shattered Marlon Brando’s bubble of isolation, with reporters and paparazzi stationed outside his house 24/7. The obese Brando's testimony on his son's behalf, sobbing on the stand, admitting his failings as a father, was to many cynical onlookers the highlight. Christian was sentenced to 10 years for voluntary manslaughter; he served six. Dag’s heartbroken father, Jacques-Denis Drollet, threatened to have Brando arrested if he ever set foot in Tahiti again. He never did.
Marlon Brando & Christian Brando in court
Cheyenne's mental state at the time was so fragile that she required sedation. Her father sent Cheyenne to a hospital in Tahiti, which prevented U.S. authorities from subpoenaing her to testify at the trial of her half-brother Christian.
Christian Brando passed away on January 26, 2008 from pneumonia.
Marlon Brando & Christian Brando In Court
So whom did she blame more? Christian or her father? "
"Both of course. My father has always thought he is a wonderful man. He is grandiose. I remember him crying that night. You should have seen the tears and how they were such false tears. I was in the kitchen when I heard a shot. It was very loud. I sat down on the floor and thought about suicide with my baby as well."
Cheyenne & Tuki
After arriving in Tahiti, Cheyenne gave birth to a son she named Tuki Brando. Shortly after that, Cheyenne tried to take her own life by overdosing on sleeping pills and eventually she was formally diagnosed with schizophrenia. Becoming isolated from her former friends and family, Cheyenne lost custody of her son to her mother Tarita. Tarita's lawyer argued that Cheyenne was still mentally incompetent and the judge agreed. Once again Cheyenne fell into another deep depression.
Cheyenne assisted at Psychiatric clinic
One day she dyed her hair blue and stood in the middle of the island's busiest intersection directing traffic. A few months later she nearly overdosed on pills again and it was reported that she had suffered brain damage. When she was released from the hospital, doctors advised that she be monitored by members of the family. Brando, however, failed to come to her side once again. It was the same pattern that Cheyenne had grown up with, out of sight, out of mind syndrome. That of course was her father's signature.
Marlon Brando & Cheyenne Brando
She had obviously been haunted by her lover, Dag Drollets death, which led to being in and out of drug clinics and psychiatric institutes. The rooms their were very small, the floors covered in cheap linoleum and furnitures so sparse and ugly.
She preferred to be outside, spending her afternoons walking the streets listening to the melancholy sounds of Chet Baker on her Walkman. Smoking constantly, she grieved for Drollet and seethed with resentment that her father had not visited her.
Brando confided to close friends: "She'll probably be in an institution for the rest of her life."
Cheyenne Sits By Herself At Psych Clinic
It was a cruelty of fate that Teihotu was ultimately the one to find his beloved sister, hanging in her bedroom at their mother’s house in Tahiti. Apparently he returned to the house after going out to get cigarettes and found that his sister had hanged herself with the phone cord in her bedroom. He cut her down and laid her on her bed. She had left no note, but there was no doubt that it was suicide.
Later that evening the family gathered for the traditional Tahitian wake of nightlong singing and the next morning all of Tahiti was in mourning.
"It was as if a member of the Tahitian royal family was being buried," one observer said.
Her body was moved to an aunt's home in the town of Faaa and only close family members were permitted to pay their respects. As Cheyenne Brando's friends and family bid their final farewell to the tragic beauty, one relative was noticeably absent.... her father.
While his daughter was being laid to rest 5,000 miles away, Brando was in his usual retreat in his large, book-lined bedroom, high atop Mulholland Drive and overlooking Beverly Hills. Overcome with grief, he languished, dulling himself with sedatives. Like a wounded animal he had taken to his lair. Neighbors such as Jack Nicholson visited briefly. Friends such as director Francis Ford Coppola were unable to make contact with Brando directly and faxed their condolences. For a few old-time associates Cheyenne's death demanded a deeper response.
Notoriously reclusive, Brando likely feared he could not maintain his coveted privacy on the tiny French Polynesian island in the South Pacific.
"There are just too many camera crews, too many paparazzi," A friend said. "He could not keep his dignity."
It is said Brando who muttered "Oh, God no" when he learned that Cheyenne hanged herself with a telephone cord on an Easter Sunday. He also reportedly feared that Tahitian authorities would detain him and reportedly worried that officials would try to interrogate him about his role in the gruesome murder of Drag Drollet. Also molestation claims from Cheyenne. He denied both charges. Brando may also have feared retaliation by the Tahitian Mafia.
The couple's son Tuki regarded the mourners with a perplexed stare
As friends and family gathered to mourn the exotic, dark-haired Cheyenne, she lay shrouded in white cloth and surrounded by flowers. Loved ones burst into tears as they grieved her passing.
"Tarita Teriipaia cried so hard that her eyes were swollen shut." One said. "She was crying all day, all night. Everyone was sad."
Mourners gather at Cheyenne Brando's Funeral
Cheyenne was buried in the Roman Catholic Uranie Cemetery in Papeete in the family crypt of her boyfriend, Dag Drollet. Brando biographer Peter Manso believes the actor hadn't seen Cheyenne since 1993.
"Marlon had not returned to Tahiti since before the shooting [of Dag] about March of 1990. . . . They certainly hadn't seen each other since then. Maybe they spoke on the phone, but I doubt it," Manso said.
Cheyenne saw her father as "a Svengali, a manipulator" who was jealous of her boyfriend, the author said.
Her son Tuki Brando is now a GQ Model.
House Of Pain Part 1
House Of Pain Part 2
Read the Cheyenne Brando Paris Match interview 1993, where she accuses Brando of many horrible things...It is the full and unedited interview, which gives candid detail into her life.