Movie legend Marlon Brando has died, aged 80.

The OSCAR-winning actor was reportedly $20 million (GBP11.1 million) in debt and living as a recluse when he passed away last night (01JUL04) on his private South Pacific island Tetiaroa (corr).

Born in Nebraska to alcoholic parents, Brando's acclaimed movie career was dogged by personal family problems, ill health and poor movie choices in the latter stages of his life.

Of mixed Dutch and Irish descent, he was expelled from his high school for riding a motorcycle through the halls.

He went on to play the big screen's ultimate rebel in ON THE WATERFRONT.

Brando made his mark on Hollywood in 1951 when he starred in classic film A Streetcar Named Desire.

He went on to win two Best Actor Academy Awards for On The Waterfront (1954) and The Godfather (1972). He turned down The Godfather honour as a protest against the way Native Americans were treated by their homeland.

His movie career petered out in the 1980s and the 1990s brought a series of family tragedies - his son CHRISTIAN was jailed for murdering his sister CHEYENNE's boyfriend. Cheyenne committed suicide in 1995.

Reportedly a broken man in the early 2000s, Brando was sued by his former mistress and housekeeper MARIA CRISTINA RUIZ in 2002 for child support.

In her $100 million (GBP55.5 million) palimony suit, she claimed Brando had fathered her three children during a 14-year relationship. The actor insisted he had no money to pay out.

He became a recluse in the 1990s and refused to speak to the press. Instead he said of tabloids' obsession with his weight, ailments and money problems, "I don't want to spread the peanut butter of my personality on the mouldy bread of the commercial press."

In his later years Brando was confined to a wheelchair as he battled congestive heart failure.

According to friends, Brando's final wish was to have his ashes scattered on the South Pacific paradise where he spent his final days, because only two people live there - his son SIMON TEHOTU (corr) and his ex-partner TERIIPIA (corr).

A Brando source says, "Marlon says his spirit will rest easy there amid the palm trees and in a place where he made love with Tahitian beauties at his beachfront home."

Brando reportedly told family and friends he didn't want to be buried in a Hollywood celebrity cemetery because the idea of becoming a tourist attraction offended him.

02/07/2004 17:17