Famed actress Rita Moreno dedicated much of her new memoir to her lengthy affair with Marlon Brando, which continued for nearly a decade even though he had two different wives during that period. Moreno, known best for her role as Anita in West Side Story, met Brando on the set of his 1954 movie Desiree, when he was 30-years-old and far more experienced than she since she was just 22-years-old at the time.
'Just meeting him that first day sent my body temperature skyrocketing as though I had been dropped into a very hot bath, and I went into a full-body blush. It was the sort of rush that inspires poetry and songs,' she writes in her new memoir.
The New York Post reports that an early copy of the book, aptly titled 'Rita Moreno', she tells how their physical connection created a real emotional entanglement.
'To say that he was a great lover — sensual, generous, delightfully inventive — would be gravely understating what he did not only to my body, but for my soul. Every aspect of being with Marlon was thrilling, because he was more engaged in the world than anyone else I’d ever known,' she wrote.
Their intimacy did not lead to mutual respect, however, as she writes that Brando cheated on her frequently in order to try to meet his 'insatiable' sexual appetite. In order to stand her ground, she would date other famous men in order to make him jealous, including future Oscar-winner Dennis Hopper. She tells a story about how a man that she didn't know made aggressive eyes at her while his 'regal' wife sat beside him, only to later learn it was then-Senator John F. Kennedy. The paramour that drove Brando the most insane, however, was when she went on a number of dates with pop star Elvis. Little did he know that Elvis and his famous pelvic thrusts did not match up to the sexual chemistry that she had with Brando.
'My dates...nearly always concluded in a tender tussle on my living-room floor, with Elvis’ pelvis in that famous gyration straining against his taut trousers. I could feel him thrust against my clothed body, and expecting the next move...but it never came,' she said of the singer.
No matter the emotional toll, she kept coming back to Brando. Two of the lowest points in their torrid affair came when he pressured- and paid for- her to have an abortion when she became pregnant with their child. Shortly after that, he flew away to film Mutiny on the Bounty and she was left heart broken when he fell in love with his new co-star. After he returned and he picked her back up, she was left alone in his house at one point and she took the chance to attempt an overdose on pills.
'I went to bed to die. This wasn’t a revenge suicide, but a consolation, an escape-from-pain death,' she said, crediting her survival to his assistant who found her and took her to the hospital to have her stomach pumped.
A therapist told the lovers to keep away from each other for their own health and finally, they relented. Moreno went on to have a successful and made records for being the first Hispanic actress to have won an Oscar, Tony, Grammy and Emmy. She is still working today at the age of 81-years-old, most recently appearing in the television series Happily Divorced. Her romantic was also far more successful after she finished her affair with Brando, as she was set up with- and ended up marrying- a doctor named Lenny Gordon.
'We balance each other,' she told People Magazine in 1975, ten years after marrying Gordon. 'I am not exactly Mrs. Good Housekeeping, although I love to cook, bake, even iron, but only because it's not mandatory.'
Looking back on the suicide attempt, the prospect of ending her life as there was so much left to come- including her daughter Fernanda- leaves her filled with regret.
'The thought that I may never have lived to see that beautiful creature Nandy just tears at me sometimes. But not for long. I can't dwell on past mistakes,' she told the magazine.