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The Day Brando Didn't Die
It Happened at the Baghdad Cafe
 
This Gerdes Gabber article published on: Friday, July 23, 2004

We knew the day would come when our beloved mentor and glorious underachiever would pass away. And so it has come to pass... "And away we go!" is how Jackie Gleason used to put it, raising one foot, pointing his toes and drawing it back to strut forth with arms extended horizontally as if to "make way" for the Main Attraction. Don't know if Brando was a Ralph Kramden afficianado but I do know that Marlon was at Jimmy Durante's funeral. They never had met but Marlon was compelled to pay his respects for The Great Schnozzola simply because he loved the artistry of mirth making & its masters. 

One day, seven years ago, I was working in an indie film entitled "Spark."  Our location was the Mojave Desert. We were shooting scenes in the illustrious "Baghdad Cafe"  (which adopted the name after portraying itself in a film of that title featuring Jack Palance). The proprietress approached me between shots shaking her head saying, "Isn't that sad about Marlon Brando?" I asked, "What do you mean?"  Her eyes widened, "Oh...I just heard on the news that he died!"  

This hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I had lost a beloved blood relative. Saddened that I never got to realize my hopes and dreams of one day getting to meet him in person or even better getting to work with him. I spent the whole working day in mourning. Upon returning to my motel room that evening, I turned on the t.v. and learned that it wasn't Marlon who had shuffled off this mortal coil but rather Burt Lancaster. They both had the role of "Dr. Moreau" in common with Charles Laughton in three seperate films but beyond that, I never did quite understand how she made the mix-up.

Many friends of mine got in touch to commiserate on Marlon's recent departure. My day of mourning had already come and gone. Now it was time to praise the Bard's cinematic Marc Anthony- not to bury him. Seven years were added to his tenure on this insatiable earth. Seven years that itcheth with many a tragedy and disillusionment. May those hours and days of leftover familial trial, tribulation and indulgence serve as an unwinding of the suffering implicit in his abundant success as well as sad to tragic failures and allow the Great Liberation to be his Bounty and Eternal Reward.

 


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