Take two of the most intense performers of the 1970s and picture them having some sort of sexual tryst. Picture this for almost an entire 24-hour period (and counting), add in the (mostly meaningless) synchronicity that they both appeared in “Superman” movies, and you have my fascination over the alleged affair/encounter between Marlon Brando and Richard Pryor.
First alleged by music producer Quincy Jones in a roller-coaster jaw-dropping interview, Pryor’s widow Jennifer has confirmed that this most likely did take place. In fact, Pryor didn’t make it a secret that he was bisexual—it’s just that the media/entertainment machine chose to largely ignore that fact.
And that, to me, is ultimately the most fascinating thing regarding this entire story. Actors and performers have had to hide their sexuality for just about forever. With Brando and Pryor both being bisexual, and attractive/interesting people in the same field, the fact that they would have hooked up would have been pretty normal. Plenty of heterosexual hookups between celebrities are reported every day.
But it was expected that they would hide their true sexuality from the public. The media/entertainment machine—including the fictional narratives presented to us via movies & TV—presented this false reality to us, where homosexuality & bisexuality largely didn’t exist. And this was a massive disservice and soul-crushing thing not only for the celebrities themselves, but all the young LGBT people out there who were deprived of both real and fictional role models.
At the end of the day, that’s really my biggest takeaway from this story.
The movies were Superman The Motion Picture and Superman III, by the way.