Inside Rita Moreno’s ‘Near-Fatal’ Affair With Marlon Brando
Rita Moreno is a living legend. The Puerto Rican actor has lived a star-studded life starring in major blockbusters and on-stage productions throughout her more than 60-year career.
While Moreno’s acting career has made for a very storied past, her relationships with fellow old Hollywood actors have as well — especially her on-again-off-again romance with entertainment legend Marlon Brando.
How did Rita Moreno and Marlon Brando meet?
During the Golden Age of Hollywood, both Moreno and Brando were two of the biggest movie stars in the industry. So, it was only a matter of time before they crossed paths and eventually started working together.
The pair met in 1954 on the set of Brando’s Napoleon biopic “Désirée,” in which he played the lead character.
Moreno, who was only 22-years-old at the time, was immediately taken with the icon-to-be, and soon, the pair become involved in a romantic affair that lasted eight-years.
“Just meeting him that first day sent my body temperature skyrocketing as though I had been dropped into a very hot bath, and I went into a full-body blush,” Moreno wrote in her 2013 memoir, Rita Moreno, per the New York Post. “It was the sort of rush that inspires poetry and songs.”
Though Brando was a “great lover” and made her feel things she hadn’t with anyone else, Moreno saw that the actor would become a different person at times — one whose actions would hurt her extensively.
“He broke my heart and came close to crushing my very spirit with his physical infidelities and, worse, with his emotional betrayals,” she shared.
Rita Moreno admits she ‘couldn’t stay away’ from Marlon Brando
Though they were engulfed in a passionate love affair, Moreno revealed in her book that Brando cheated on her frequently while they were together.
He had even gotten married and fathered his wives’ children during his eight-year relationship with the West Side Story actor.
But despite Brando not giving her all of his love during their affair and breaking her heart time and time again, Moreno admits she couldn’t stay away from him.
“I was becoming addicted to the challenge of winning him over and over again,” Moreno revealed.
Though she tried to make the actor jealous by dating the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, Moreno soon realized that Brando was the one who held the key to her heart and went running back to him.
But shortly after finding herself back in Brando’s arms, Moreno learned that she was pregnant with his child, which soon turned their relationship from fiery and passionate to a devastatingly suicidal ordeal.
Rita Moreno’s love for Marlon Brando almost proved fatal
After revealing her pregnancy to Brando, the actor arranged for Moreno to have an abortion, which she later learned had been botched.
Though the fetus was dead, it was still inside of Moreno. She soon began bleeding profusely and had to be rushed to the hospital to have the fetus surgically removed.
The procedure could have cost Moreno her life, but instead of Brando being concerned for his girlfriend, he was upset about losing out on the money he dished out for the abortion.
Shortly after her abortion, Brando went out of town to film his 1962 film Mutiny on the Bounty, during which he fell in love with his co-star Tarita Teriipia, whom he would later marry.
Moreno was heartbroken by this ness and attempted to overdose on pills after Brando returned from filming.
“I went to bed to die,” she wrote in her book. “This wasn’t a revenge suicide, but a consolation, an escape-from-pain death.”
Moreno credits her survival to Brando’s assistant, who had found her and rushed her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped.
A therapist later told Moreno and Brando to keep away from each other for their own health and sanity, to which they both agreed.
Moreno went on to have a great love with her husband of 45 years, Leonard Gordon, who died in 2010.
But despite being happily married to Gordon for so many years, Moreno has continued to hold a special place in her heart for Brando, who she keeps a photo of in her bedroom and still considers the “lust of my life.”