In the 1950s, one of the most famous and greatest actors in history, Marlon Brando, had an affair with Anna Kashfi, a British Indian actress. They met in 1955, and Kashfi got pregnant with Brando’s baby in 1957. The two of them married in 1958 and then divorced the next year.
On May 11, 1958, Christian Devi Brando was born. He was named after Marlon Brando’s friend, film director Christian Marquand.
Christian Brando would live a very tumultuous childhood — according to Jon Thurber in the LA Times, Brando would be the subject of a very bitter custody battle between Kashfi and Marlon Brando while he was a toddler. Kashfi was first awarded custody of her son, but a judge removed the order five years later due to her “reliance on drugs and alcohol.”
Custody then went to Marlon Brando’s older sister when Christian was 6. When Christian was 13, Marlon Brando got custody of his son, who sent him to be boarding school in Ojai, California. There, he was raised by nannies. As a busy actor, Marlon Brando spent very little time with his son. And Christian Brando was the oldest son of the family, playing a large father figure role as time wore on to his younger siblings who didn’t see their father much. Christian described being witness to his father’s womanizing ways and unstable authority figures in his life:
“The family kept changing shape,” Christian said. “I’d sit down at the breakfast table and say, ‘Who are you?’”