Los Angeles (Reuter) - The actor Marlon Brando, who sparked a storm of criticism for saying Hollywood was run by Jews, broke down and wept yesterday when he met Jewish leaders to apologise for his comments.
"It took 30 to 45 seconds before he was able to compose himself," Rabbi Marvin Hier said of the Oscar-winning star of the Godfather, whom he met for three hours.
"Mr Brando broke down and cried ... to show his affection for Lew Wasserman and other people who are his idols," Rabbi Hier said, referring to the chairman emeritus of MCA, the parent company of Universal Pictures. Mr Wasserman had deplored Brando's comments last week, but defended the actor as a friend of the Jews.
In an appearance on CNN's Larry King Live last Friday, Brando said he was angry with some Jewish film-makers for not showing more sensitivity in portraying minority groups in a negative fashion while not portraying Jews in the same way.
"Hollywood is run by Jews. It's owned by Jews and they should have a greater sensitivity about the issue of people who are suffering," he said on the programme.
He listed various negative stereotypes he said had been depicted in cinema. "We've seen the nigger and the greaseball. We've seen the Chink. We've seen the slit-eyed dangerous Jap. We have seen the wily Filipino. We've seen everything. But we never saw the kike, because they knew perfectly well that that's where you draw the wagons around."
Rabbi Harvey Fields, of the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, retorted: "Mr Brando's comments about Hollywood being controlled by Jews is about as sloppy an anti-Semitism as saying that Jews control banks." The Jewish Defense League responded by sending the actor a letter entitled "Message to the Godfather of Hate" - "You gladly take money from Hollywood producers and then vilify the industry with slanderous accusations of anti-Semitic vulgarities."
Initially, Brando, 72, who has been active in the civil-rights movement, denied his comments were anti-Semitic. "I will be the first one who will praise the Jews honestly and say 'Thank God for the Jews.' The Jews are amazing people."
Rabbi Hier, who heads the Simon Wiesenthal Centre Los Angeles, said he was happy with yesterday's meeting, which took place at the home of Brando's friend David Ross. "I am satisfied, after spending three hours with the man, that Marlon Brando is not an anti-Semite."
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