Brando daughter hangs self

April 18, 1995|By Eric Malnic | Eric Malnic,Los Angeles Times

Actor Marlon Brando's daughter Cheyenne -- the troubled, onetime model whose half-brother killed her lover in the movie star's sprawling Hollywood Hills home -- has committed suicide in Tahiti, officials said yesterday.

Cheyenne Brando, who had been in seclusion for months, hanged herself at her home on the South Pacific island, authorities said. Friends said she had suffered from depression since Christian Brando fatally shot Dag Drollet in a 1990 case that made news around the world. The 25-year-old actor's daughter reportedly had attempted suicide at least twice.

Marlon Brando had no comment Monday and planned to issue no statement, said his agent, Ed Limato, who declined to disclose the actor's whereabouts.

At the time of Drollet's shooting, Cheyenne Brando -- a native of Tahiti -- had been visiting Southern California for psychological counseling after being disfigured in an auto accident on the island. She was in her father's Mulholland Drive home when the shooting occurred and, at one time, was charged with complicity in Drollet's death.

The charges against her eventually were dropped. Christian Brando -- claiming the shooting was an accident and that he acted in rage because Drollet had beaten Cheyenne -- pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The plea was arranged by his attorney, Robert Shapiro, now one of O.J. Simpson's lawyers.

Cheyenne Brando's death on Sunday came as her father was enjoying resurgent success on the screen, currently appearing as a psychiatrist in the romantic comedy "Don Juan De Marco." His earlier acting triumphs are legendary, including an acclaimed performance on Broadway and the screen in "Streetcar Named Desire" and Academy Award-winning roles in the films "On the Waterfront" and "The Godfather."

Cheyenne Brando, the daughter of Marlon Brando and his Polynesian wife, Tarita Tariipia, and Drollet, son of a prominent Tahitian politician, had been living together in Tahiti for more than a year before they separated in March 1990, according to sources there.

Despite the separation, Drollet and Cheyenne Brando flew to Los Angeles together about May 1, 1990, and both moved into the Brando home on Mulholland Drive. The Brando house and guest house are part of a three-home complex atop the Santa Monica Mountains.

Police said that at about 10:40 on the night of May 16, 1990, Drollet, 26, and Christian Brando, then 32, got into an argument.

Christian Brando claimed he shot Drollet accidentally during a struggle after accusing Drollet of "slapping around" his half-sister, who was seven months pregnant with Drollet's child. Prosecutors charged Christian Brando with murdering Drollet, saying there was no evidence of a struggle.

Marlon Brando, his wife and Cheyenne Brando were in the home when Drollet was shot, police said. The reclusive actor tried to revive Drollet with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and called 911 to summon police.

A month after the shooting, after attempts were made to serve her with papers naming her a material witness, Cheyenne Brando flew to Tahiti. Prosecutors said she was trying to avoid testifying in the case. A few days after that, she gave birth to Drollet's child, and within days, she entered a psychiatric hospital for treatment.

In the months that followed, prosecutors launched an international battle to have the young woman returned to Los Angeles to testify.

While the battle raged, Cheyenne Brando overdosed on tranquilizers and depressant drugs and lapsed into a coma at a hospital in Tahiti. She recovered briefly, then tried to hang herself, according to her father.

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