Her death came four years after her half-brother Christian was jailed in California for shooting dead her Tahitian boyfriend, Dag Drollet - from which relatives say she never fully recovered.
Cheyenne Brando, the daughter of Tarita Teriipaia, a Polynesian whom Brando acted with in Mutiny on the Bounty in 1962, was found dead on Easter Day in her bedroom at her mother's home in Punaauia.
She had made at least two previous attempts at suicide, according to sources close to the family, and had been battling depression for five years. There were reports in Los Angeles last night that the 71-year-old Brando - who has just made his return to the screen - was so distressed by the news that he collapsed and was taken to hospital, although these were later denied.
Four years ago, Christian Brando, the son of Brando and the actress Anna Kashfi, was sent to jail in San Luis Obispo for 10 years in a plea bargain negotiated by the top Los Angeles lawyer Robert Shapiro - one of OJ Simpson's "Dream Team". He had claimed he accidentally shot dead Dag Drollet, Cheyenne's lover for three years, in an argument over whether he was beating her. He is expected to be eligible for parole in the next few weeks, and may be released.
Cheyenne was also charged with complicity in Drollet's death, but French authorities in Polynesia refused to force her to go to the United States for the trial, and charges were later dropped. Cheyenne, who was pregnant when the shooting happened, had a five year-old son by Drollet.
Her death is the latest in a series of tragedies and scandals to afflict the Brando family. The Oscar-winning actor lost a daughter-in-law in a hit and run accident. In 1989 Cheyenne required painful reconstructive surgery after her car swerved off a Tahitian road and she was hurled onto rocks - which family associates say also deeply affected her. Marlon Brando, considered one of the great actors of the century, had returned to the screen this month with Don Juan de Marco, a romantic comedy.