Were Brando and Cox lovers? The author of the LAST TANGO WITH MARLON makes his case.
|Few know that acting legend Marlon Brando and TV actor Wally Cox were long-time best friends. They grew up together in Evanston, Illinois, and shared and apartment in 1950's New York City. They maintained a tense friendship through the next two decades, until Cox's death in 1973.
Of those who do know the story, many believe that the two men were, at least for a time, bisexual lovers (this time likely being the roommate period in 1950's New York.) There are several articles of so-called evidence to substantiate this claim. However this evidence does not hold up and, upon closer inspection, there is no evidence supporting a sexual union between them and there is significant evidence against it.
First, the supposed evidence that Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were lovers:
1) They lived together in the 1950's.
2) Marlon Brando was a confessed bisexual and sexual experimentalist.
3) Wally Cox is perceived as a wimpish, feminine character.
4) After Cox's death, Brando remarked in his autobiography that if Cox had been a woman they'd have been married, and that he loved Cox dearly.
5) There is supposedly a photograph of Brando with his penis in Cox's mouth.
To contradict this evidence is easy:
1) A lot of young people in New York, actors and other artists and students especially, share apartments in the always-expensive New York City. This is no evidence of sexual union, even circumstantially so.
2) Just because Brando confessed to affairs with the likes of Monty Clift and others, and that he shared an apartment with another man, does not indicate that he had sex with that man, his roommate. Again, this evidence isn't even or is barely circumstantial.
3) Wally Cox was actually quite masculine, with a well-developed physique. His popular persona aside, there was nothing feminine about him. Today he might be called a techno-geek or a nerd, but that's another thing entirely.
4) Brando might have wanted to marry Cox had he been a woman, but he wasn't. This is a simple, colloquial turn of phrase that is not a confession of or evidence indicating anything. Brando undoubtedly did love Wally Cox, but the love between friends is not the same as lust or passion or romance and would only be taken that way by someone who wants to believe what there is no reason to believe.
5) I've never seen this photo and I doubt it exists. If it does, it could be that Brando took the shot as a practical joke when Wally slept. Brando is well known to have been a prankster, not shying away from using his penis as a prop. I've never heard of this actually happening, someone photographing their penis in some sleeping person's mouth, but it is said to have happened, and one urban myth carries about as much weight as another.
Now let's look at the evidence against the sexual union of Marlon Brando and Wally Cox.
1) Wally Cox was not gay or bisexual. He was married three times and was never known to have a bisexual relationship or experience with Brando or any other man. He is known to have sexual proclivities, like anybody, but they didn't include homosexuality. Everybody who knew him, and I personally have interviewed several about this very issue, report that Wally had no inclination in that regard. Gossip mongers can assume what they please, but these were Wally's best friends and they knew him better than anyone.
2) Nobody in Brando's circle has reported any sexual conduct between the two men, and they were surrounded by friends almost the entire time they shared that apartment in New York. Friends were always clamoring around Brando, and not a single person has ever stepped forward to report sex between Brando and Cox.
3) There are supposed diary entries from Brando that confirm Cox's disinterest in bisexual activity. The diaries may not be real, but they carry as much weight as any internet-spread "evidence". At least they can be seen and examined, unlike the supposed photograph of Brando's penis in Cox's mouth.
Why then would such a rumor persist?
1) Brando remains an icon in the gay subculture, and the pairing of this hulking man's man and the impish girlie-man might be too much for some imaginations to resist.
2) Both men seem to be magnets for rumor: people speculate on whether Wally Cox committed suicide, on Brando's use of cue cards and his various sexual partners. Some people just inspire this type of speculation.
3) Why do any rumors get started? People enjoy the attention they get when they talk about other people. Hey, I wrote a whole book about these two guys, so I know what I'm talking about. But unlike gossipers, I stuck scrupulously to the truth in writing LAST TANGO WITH MARLON (trafford.com/07-2958), not only the true facts of their lives, but the truths we learn from them about our own lives. Even so, the truth about their lives seems clear: Marlon Brando and Wally Cox were close friends, one-time classmates, one-time roommates, each a great American visionary in his own way.
But the best evidence indicates that they were never lovers.