Marlon Brando

by ethnic on December 25, 2007

Birth Name: Marlon Brando, Jr.

Date of Birth: April 23, 1924

Place of Birth: Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.

Date of Death: July 1, 2004

Place of Death: Los Angeles, California, U.S.

Ethnicity: English, Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, Scottish

Marlon Brando was an American actor, film director, and activist. He twice won the Academy Award for Best Actor, for On the Waterfront (1954) and The Godfather (1972).

Marlon was the son of Dorothy Julia (Pennebaker), who had also acted, and Marlon Brando, a pesticide manufacturer. His sister, Jocelyn Brando, was also an actress. He had at least sixteen children, including actor Miko Brando, actress Rebecca Brando, and model Cheyenne Brando. Among his grandchildren is model Tuki Brando.

Marlon’s ancestry included English, as well as Irish, German, Dutch, French Huguenot, Welsh, and Scottish. His patrilineal line traces back to Johann Wilhelm Brandau, who was born, c. 1670, in Palatinate, Germany. The surname was changed to Brandow, and later to Brando. Marlon’s paternal great-great-grandfather, Apollos/Paulus Brando, was of at least half German ancestry. Marlon mentioned the origin of his surname in his autobiography, Songs My Mother Taught Me.

Despite being well known for his role in the film, The Godfather, about Italian-American mobsters, Marlon was not of Italian ancestry.

Marlon’s paternal grandfather was Eugene Everett/Everet Brando (the son of James Henry Brando and Nancy Hannah Joslin/Jocelyn). Eugene was born in New York. James was the son of Apollos/Paulus/Paul Brandow/Brando and Catherine Van Orden/VanOrden. Nancy was the daughter of James Joslin/Jocelyn and Charity Denslow or Granger.

Marlon’s paternal grandmother was Marie/Maria Belle Holloway (the daughter of Robert Thomas Holloway and Catherine Emily Thompson). Marie was born in Illinois. Robert was the son of George Holloway and Mary Polly McClanahan. Catherine was the daughter of James Thompson and Elizabeth Ewing.

Marlon’s maternal grandfather was William Johnson/John Pennebaker (the son of William Pennebaker and Sarah Elizabeth Salmon/Solmon). Marlon’s grandfather William was born in Missouri. Marlon’s great-grandfather William was the son of Samuel W. Pennebaker and Sarah Finley. Marlon’s great-grandmother Sarah was the daughter of Ezekiel James Salmon and Narcissa Ragsdale Merritt.

Marlon’s maternal grandmother was Bessie Grace Gahan (the daughter of Myles Joseph Gahan and Julia A. Watts). Bessie was born in Nebraska. Myles was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Edward Gahan and Grace Mauley. Julia was the daughter of Thomas Watts and Mary Locke.

Sources: Songs My Mother Taught Me, by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey, 1994 (autobiography)

Genealogies of Marlon Brando –

Genealogy of Marlon’s paternal grandmother, Marie/Naria Belle Holloway (focusing on her father’s side) –

Remarriage record of Marlon’s paternal grandmother, Marie/Naria Belle Holloway, to William A. Gleason –

Creative Commons License photo credit: pingnews

{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew April 3, 2017 at 11:59 am

His sister, Jocelyn Brando, was also an actress. Also can you note that his direct patrilineal ancestor was from Palatinate, Germany.

andrew October 22, 2016 at 7:18 pm
andrew July 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm

Catherine VanOrden Brandow was the 3x great granddaughter of the French Huguenot Louis Dubois. Marlon Brando mentioned this ancestor on the Johnny Carson Show in the 1970’s. On live TV, Marlon described how the ancestors of Louis Dubois were French Royals and that these ancestors included kings of France and included people who fought in the Crusades in the Middle East

andrew June 14, 2016 at 5:05 pm
cwm85 August 3, 2015 at 6:17 pm

He was one good looking man when he was younger, men and women alone were after him and he tried them all!

the punisher January 17, 2014 at 3:42 pm

everything except Italian, of course he doesn’t look Italian one bit

andrew January 17, 2014 at 3:54 pm

there isnt a fixed Italian look, same for most populous European countries. You don’t know this stuff, so stfu

Check7t September 13, 2014 at 8:02 pm


He looked British/German, here’s a colored photo of him when he was younger:

Typical British/Southern German look.

andrew September 14, 2014 at 4:50 am

What’s that shitty colored pic, terrible

andrew September 14, 2014 at 6:57 am

He could pass for an Italian but not for a stereotypical Italian-American like Buddy Valastro, for example

follers September 13, 2014 at 8:53 pm

He only played one really famous Italian role (The Godfather). They wanted to hire a non-Italian for Al Pacino’s role, too, at first (Warren Beatty, Burt Reynolds, Ryan O’Neal, Robert Redford).

Check7t September 19, 2014 at 7:28 pm

“one really famous Italian role”

He played Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (1953) so two famous “Italian” roles.

wendyned April 3, 2015 at 5:21 pm


















Capricious April 4, 2015 at 12:30 am

Do you have an inferior complexity or what?

You’re trying to desperately prove that Italians are fair skinned and white that it comes across as a joke! Relax, will ya?

There will always be dark Italians, even from Northern Italy…And dark Italians are REAL ITALIANS. You’re being as ignorant as people who think every Italian is dark featured.

How come I don’t see English people or Swedes listing dark northern Europeans (since many of us think Nordics are always white/fair)?

It’s always Greeks, Italians and Persians who get pissed off when we think that they are a “dark race”….Just Lol…The Hitler complex is so STRONG in you, it’s unreal!

FTBy5q April 11, 2015 at 10:12 pm

Greeks, Italians and Persians get pissed off because assholes like you put them in the wrong category of race. They’re all white. They are even German people who look dark. Stfu.

angiemorton October 7, 2018 at 5:07 am


Tux August 3, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Honestly I can understand why some southerners get upset. It’s because people within the Anglosphere have the habit of stereotyping every non anglo people. Stereotypes are fine but when you use them to put down or insult a people that’s wrong.

A couple reasons they might get upset.

– Italians are short

Granted they are not as tall as the Dutch but they are similar in height to various other European nations and Spain is as tall as the French and English. There are plenty shorter people in Europe than southerns like Russia even in the world there are much shorter people like people from the Middle East, East Asia and Africa yet so many people pick on Italians constantly like they are drastically shorter than other Europeans or even among the shortest in the world which is completely false.

– Southern Europeans are not white

Something that continues to this day even when we have genetic data showing other wise. I mean people constantly troll southern europeans for not being real europeans but invaders and mixbred europeans can you believe it? People insulting the very people who named Europe and gave the west its culture.

– On top of this you have both afrocentrist and nordicist alike trying to take claim for ancient southern european civilizations.

Southerns get trashed a lot, but then the very same people who trashed them want to try and still their culture away from them by claiming all their great leaders and innovators were Germanic or African.

The most people say about the British is that they’re ugly but overall the British aren’t harassed nearly as much as southern europeans are online. So that maybe why you see more of them on edge. Everyone has something to say about them and they tire of it as anyone would.

Tux August 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

One more point I forgot to mention

– Southern europeans are weak compared to other europeans.

Another statement people us to antagonize southern europeans and it’s based on nothing but ignorance. Because southern europeans have been one of the most succesful people in virtually all sports.

Tux August 3, 2015 at 5:09 pm

Basically these things all hit a soft spot with southern europeans because they remember a couple years ago a guy named Hitler and Himmler were saying the same things and even later in history American wasp were saying the same things about them. It’s touchy for them. Implying they are inferior to others in some way. It’s a raw subject. Had Hitler been southern european instead of German and instead of southerners called the British or Scandinavians untermensch and drew anthropology photos of them calling their features inferior the Brits and scandinavians would be just as touchy.

marjanel October 10, 2015 at 7:44 pm

But Hitler consider Italians Aryans,and they were his allies.He didn’t think the same from Usa,and the Europeans that he didn’t like orcconsider Aryans were the Slavics.Althous who cares really about Hitler and Nazi.They didn’t like jews but use photos of them forma ideal soldiers and Aryan race,didn’t like Slavics but kidnapped many of them forma Aryan race.

athelya January 5, 2016 at 10:33 am

well i hate when people think scandinavians are all blonde so theres that

wendyned April 3, 2015 at 5:22 pm




andrew January 5, 2013 at 8:24 pm

Brandau sounds weird to be German, more French is

levangelista36 June 15, 2012 at 9:37 pm

i always thought he was italian because he played vito corleone in the godfather

Jane November 24, 2011 at 11:05 am

He played a great role in a western called “One-Eyed Jacks”

Mike June 24, 2011 at 4:08 pm

he’s kind of overrated as an actor but he’s cool. better than James Dean anyway.

Veronica October 6, 2010 at 10:21 am

Great actor!!

Michael O Leary November 5, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Brando is Irish American

Michael O Leary November 5, 2010 at 4:53 pm

He looks Irish

SparkleTime January 6, 2012 at 1:59 pm


Anya April 16, 2012 at 12:55 am

I would have said he looked more Dutch to be honest.

gel January 6, 2016 at 12:39 am

He claimed to be Irish in his autobiography!
He certainly had the talent to have been Irish.

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