Marlon Brando failed to appear at a news conference where he was expected to atone for anti-Semitic comments he made on CNN’s “Larry King Live” show.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center hosted last Friday’s media event to give Brando an opportunity to express remorse over his verbal assault on Jews in the entertainment industry.
During the hour-long interview with King on April 5, Brando said Jews “run” and “own” Hollywood, and that many films present demeaning stereotypes of ethnic minorities, with the exception of Jews.
“We have seen the nigger, we have seen the greaseball, we have seen the chink, the slit-eyed Jap,” Brando told King. “But we never saw the kike, because they know perfectly well that’s where you draw the wagons around.”
While Jewish organizations responded with shock and outrage, the Wiesenthal Center’s founder and dean, Rabbi Marvin Hier, reported that Brando called him on April 8, expressing remorse for his remarks.
Hier said that the actor would appear last Friday to tour the center’s Museum of Tolerance and make a public statement.
However, instead of Brando appearing, Hier and his colleague, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, reported on a private meeting they held with the actor at the home of Jewish attorney David Ross.
Ross, identified only as a friend of Brando, released at the news conference the communique that resulted from the three-hour session.
“Brando’s intent in the near future is to clarify what he feels is a misunderstanding of a statement made in an unfortunate and incorrect manner due to the pressures of appearing” on a talk show, the communique said.
“Mr. Brando is known to the Jewish community as highly supportive of Jewish culture and religion for many decades, and a profound humanitarian concerned with human rights for all people and races.”
In response to questions, Hier and Ross declared categorically that Brando is not an anti-Semite.
They said Brando’s comments on the King show were misconstrued, and he never meant to imply that there was a Jewish conspiracy to keep negative images of Jews out of films.
Rather, because of his great admiration for Jews, Brando would expect them to take the lead in combatting demeaning stereotypes of all ethnic minorities, they said.
Hier and Ross explained that Brando was not able to clearly express his true sentiments on the CNN program because of constant interruptions by commercials and by King himself.
They said the actor would expound on his true sentiments in print and on TV programs which allow him to speak without interruptions.
When a reporter noted that Brando had made similar remarks about Hollywood Jews in an interview with Playboy magazine nine years ago, Ross replied that the author of the article had done Brando a great disservice.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.