The pain of the relationship began to catch up with Moreno
Not long after their reconciliation, Moreno found out she was pregnant with Brando’s child, but the reaction was not at all what she expected. “To my shock and horror, Marlon immediately arranged for an abortion,” she wrote, recalling that he arranged for someone else to pick her up after the procedure, which was illegal at the time.
But things hadn’t gone smoothly — she soon found out the fetus was still inside of her and had to be removed surgically at the hospital. Instead of sympathy, Brando expressed anger that the person who performed the abortion had wronged him.
Brando then took off to film
Mutiny on the Bounty, where he fell for co-star Tarita Teriipaia. Moreno had recently wrapped what would become her star-making role in West Side Story, but behind closed doors, seeing him with yet another woman was all too much. When he returned home, Moreno swallowed a bunch of his sleeping pills in one gulp.
“I went to bed to die,” she wrote in the book. “This wasn’t a revenge suicide, but a consolation, an escape-from-pain death.” And if it weren’t for his assistant finding her and rushing her to the hospital to get her stomach pumped, her fate may have been completely different.
Looking back, she told
: “It was humiliating and I was letting him step all over me… I wanted to get rid of myself because I didn’t think I deserved to live.”
A therapist asked them to not see each other again, and the two agreed. Brando went on to marry Teriipaia
They connected once again for professional reasons
About six years later in 1968, Moreno reached out to Brando again, and he cast her as his love interest in
The Night of the Following Day, which filmed in France.
Waking up after a reunion dinner filled with too much wine, Moreno found Brando breathing on her neck, begging, “That’s all I want, to sleep with you.” She denied him.
Back on the set, there was a scene when she had to slap him, and it triggered old memories. “As the synapses of my brain reconnected, old wounds, hurts, resentment and disrespect coursed through my body,” she wrote. “The festering decay rose like pond scum to the surface, and Rita Moreno emerged as the offended lover.”
It was a flood of emotions that she had buried deep. “It opened up this well of hurt and rage, and disappointment, that had been obviously sitting there for years and years and years unexpressed,” she told
Vulture . “The pond scum just came right up to the surface. It had been sitting there all these years, and I went berserk. That was for real. I don’t even know what I was saying. It surprised the hell out of him, of course, and he kept trying to defend himself by putting his arms up and all that. The director could not have been happier, so he kept the camera rolling.”
Moreno and Brando eventually formed a friendship
Watching the scene back now, Moreno is still filled with pain. “I know what I’m experiencing, and it hurts me so much that it took me so long to express what I was feeling,” she continued to
Vulture. “It breaks my heart, actually. And I feel so sorry for that girl on the screen. I really, really do.”
Yet despite the pain of it all, Moreno and Brando became permanent fixtures in each other’s lives. Brando became friendly with Moreno, as well as Gordon and their daughter Fernanda “Nandy” Gordon. “Nandy came home from school one day and found him playing the congas in our living room,” Moreno told . “So she still calls him ‘the man with the drums.’”
People in 1975
She’s also grateful that Brando introduced her to therapy, which has been so essential to her life. “And at one point he said to me, ‘You need help,’ which now makes me really laugh hard because it’s one loony telling the other loony that they need help,” she told
Vulture. “It turned out he was absolutely right. It’s probably the greatest favor I ever did for myself.”
Through the end of Brando’s life, they remained in touch, but Moreno never was the one to reach out again. “We had a telephone friendship after that,” she
continued. “He did the calling, I never called him.”