Even before he let himself get obese and balloon up to over 350 lb., his eating habits were legendary. The Men (1950) co-star Richard Erdman claimed Brando’s diet circa 1950 consisted “mainly of junk food, usually take-out Chinese or peanut butter, which he consumed by the jarful.” By the mid-’50s he was renowned for eating boxes of Mallomars and cinnamon buns, washing them down with a quart of milk.
Close friend Carlo Fiore wrote that in the ’50s and early ’60s Brando went on crash diets before his films commenced shooting, but when he lost his willpower he would eat huge breakfasts consisting of corn flakes, sausages, eggs, bananas and cream, and a huge stack of pancakes drenched in syrup. Fiore was detailed by producers to drag him out of coffee shops. Karl Malden claimed that, during the shooting of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), Brando would have “two steaks, potatoes, two apple pies a la mode and a quart of milk” for dinner, necessitating constant altering of his costumes. During a birthday party for Brando—the film’s director as well as star—the crew gave him a belt with a card reading, “Hope it fits.” A sign was placed below the birthday cake saying, “Don’t feed the director.” He reportedly ate at least four pieces of cake that day.
His second wife Movita, who had a lock put on their refrigerator to stop pilfering by what she thought was the household staff, awoke one morning to find the lock broken and teeth marks on a round of cheese. The maid told her that Brando nightly raided the fridge. Movita also related how he often drove down to hot dog stands late at night (one of his favorite spots was the legendary Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood; it was open 24 hours a day, and Brando would go there at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning and polish off a half-dozen hot dogs at a time). Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) costumer James Taylor claimed that Brando split the seat on 52 pairs of pants during the shooting of the film, necessitating that stretch fabric be sewn into his replacement duds. He split those, too. Ice cream was the culprit: Brando would purloin a five-gallon tub of the fattening dessert, row himself out into the lagoon and indulge.
On the set of The Appaloosa (1966), Brando’s double often had to be used for shooting after lunch, and filming could only proceed in long shots, as Brando could no longer fit into his costumes. Dick Loving, who was married to Brando’s sister Frannie, said that Brando used to eat “two chickens at a sitting, and [go] through bags of Pepperidge Farm cookies.”
It was reported during the filming of The Missouri Breaks (1976) that the environmentally sensitive Brando fished a frog out of a pond, took a huge bite out of the hapless amphibian, and threw it back into the drink. Living on his island of Tetioroa, Brando created what he called “real-life Mounds Bars” by cracking open a coconut, melting some chocolate in the sun, then stirring it into the coconut for a tasty treat.
By the 1980s there were reports that one of his girlfriends had left him because he failed to keep his promise of losing weight. He seemed to be dieting, but to her astonishment, he never lost weight. She found out that his buddies had been throwing bags of Burger King Whoppers over the gates of his Mulholland Dr. estate late at night to relieve the hunger pangs of their famished friend. In the late ’80s Brando was spotted regularly buying ice cream from a Beverly Hills ice cream shop—five gallons at a time. He supposedly confessed that he was eating it all himself. Finally, a reported Brando snack was a pound of cooked bacon shoved into an entire loaf of bread. When Brando became ill, he seriously cut back and lost 70 pounds on a bland diet, but never lost his love of food and especially ice cream.