Marlon Brando engaged in multiple feuds throughout his career, irrespective of the stature of the person on the other end. Ranging from Charlie Chaplin to Val Kilmer, Brando had many disagreements with a lot of important people — but his fight with Frank Sinatra intensified and took bizarre turns unlike any other.
The two had worked on the 1955 musical Guys and Dolls which was directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz but the production process was far from being smooth. In fact, Sinatra was angry before the filming even started because Brando got the leading part even though he had been offered the role initially.
Many sources claimed that Sinatra could not stand the presence of Brando on the set because he felt that the actor had stolen the role from him. There might be some basis to that claim since one report stated that Brando was initially apprehensive about starring in a musical comedy but Cary Grant persuaded him to take the role in order to put Sinatra in his place.
Although their feud was reported to be very mild in the first stages of the production process, Brando began to hate Sinatra as well because he kept calling Brando “Mumbles” to make him angry. In retaliation, Brando pretended to forget his lines during one particular scene which forced Sinatra to repeatedly eat pieces of cake.
To make matters worse, many press outlets were making fun of Brando for taking part in this production which went against his established on-screen persona. Sinatra’s anger was also amplified by the fact that Brand had recently secured the prestigious Academy Award for Best Actor for his unforgettable performance in On the Waterfront.
The two refused to talk to each other and exchanged communication through other people. Brando’s friend, Carlo Fiore, revealed that things took a turn for the worse when Sinatra’s wife Ava Gardner spent time in Brando’s dressing room when the singer wasn’t around which led to the actor’s abduction by possible mafia associates of Sinatra.
At a rest stop, Brando had been confronted by three men who pulled a gun on him and forced him to get into a car. They took him for a ride and allegedly made all kinds of threats before leaving him in the Hollywood Hills in a distressed condition and the actor had to explain to people that he was actually involved in an accident.
Fiore recalled: “Marlon told me, ‘One of the goons told me he was going to offer me a choice. He could kill me, a quick and easy death with a bullet in the heart. Or else he’d let me live. If he let me live, he’d castrate me and carve up my face so that no plastic surgeon could ever repair it… Marlon told me he had never been so frightened in all his life, ‘I was sweating blood. I also shit my pants.'”
Although the film became a success, the feud between Brando and Sinatra did not wash away that easily. Years later, Brando managed to anger Sinatra once again by taking the role of the Godfather in Francis Ford Coppola’s magnum opus even though Sinatra had personally requested the director. Unsurprisingly, Brando delivered a brilliant performance which ended up winning another Academy Award.