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The Celebrities - Marlon Brando

When I was flying for Pan Am, I had the pleasure of having many celebrities as passengers on our flights. Marlon Brando was one of those celebrities who was a frequent flyer on our Pan Am flights to Tahiti. He spent much of his time there. In 1965, after filming Mutiny on the Bounty, he purchased the island of Tetiaroa, about 35 miles to the north of Tahiti. Actually it's an atoll consisting of 12 islands. (An atoll is an island of coral surrounding a lagoon).

Brando was on several of our Pan Am flights that I was flying and while I never had a conversation with him, he would always stop by the cockpit to say hello as he arrived, or goodbye as he left. The flight attendants were very excited any time he was on board, and after he made the movie The Godfather, they always remarked that they were going to make him an offer he couldn't refuse.

A company purchased Tetiaroa from Marlon Brando's estate and is constructing a luxury eco-resort there now, with completion planned for 2011. This resort was Brando's vision. "The Brando" is the name of the hotel which will have 47 deluxe bungalow villas, and offer various activities including archaeological tours of royal Tahitian sites.

When we were departing Tahiti, en-route to Honolulu, the route would take us due north and just to the left of Tetiaroa. As we approached the island we would announce that we would be passing the Tetiaroa atoll which will be visible on the right side of the aircraft. Then we would make a slight bank so he would be able to get a good view of the island. As a courtesy, to respect his privacy, we would never mention his name as we pointed out the island.

The last time I recall seeing Marlon Brando on board was a sad occasion. We had taken him on our Pam Am flight from Tahiti to Honolulu. From there he would change to a flight going to Los Angeles. Upon arriving at the gate, the airport manager met Mr. Brando and informed him that his lifelong friend Wally Cox had died. Mr. Brando was obviously distraught over this news but he continued on to Los Angeles where he helped with the cremation plans for Wally Cox.

Apparently Marlon Brando kept possession of the ashes of Wally Cox. After Brando died in 2004, his ashes were intermingled with Wally Cox's ashes and scattered together over Death Valley and Tahiti.

Marlon Brando's coral reef eco-resort

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