Birth Name: Marlon Brando, Jr.
Date of Birth: April 3, 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). He also starred in A Streetcar Named Desire, The Wild One, Last Tango in Paris, Apocalypse Now, and The Freshman, among many other films.
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 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/Paul Brandow/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 Brando (the son of James H. Brando and Nancy Hannah Joslin/Jocelyn). Eugene was born in Rome, Oneida, New York. James was the son of Apollos/Paulus/Paul Brandow/Brando and Catherine Van Orden/VanOrden. Nancy was the daughter of James Jocelyn and Charity Denslow.
Marlon’s paternal grandmother was Maria B. Holloway (the daughter of Robert Holloway and Catherine/Katherine E. Thompson). Marie was born in Monmouth, Warren, 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 Pennebaker (the son of William Pennebaker and Sarah Elizabeth Salmon). Marlon’s grandfather William was born in Versailles, Morgan, Missouri. Marlon’s great-grandfather William was possibly the son of Samuel 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./E. Watts). Bessie was born in Hall County, Nebraska. Myles was born in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Edward Gahan and Grace Mauley. Julia was born in Ohio, the daughter of English parents, Thomas Watts and Mary Locke.
Sources: Songs My Mother Taught Me, by Marlon Brando and Robert Lindsey, 1994 (autobiography)
Genealogy of Marlon’s paternal grandmother, Maria B. Holloway (focusing on her father’s side) – http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com
Remarriage record of Marlon’s paternal grandmother, Maria B. Holloway, to William A. Gleason – https://www.familysearch.org