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Marlon Brando Lauds Ethnic Humor

May 27, 1964 - Marlon Brando appealed today to minority groups not to sacrifice their rich ethnic humor in the drives for racial equality.

He said the disappearance of excellent racial comedy had made movie comedy dull and had brought about the spread of “formula comedy” that had far less virility. Brando expressed his views in an interview at Universal City in Hollywood.

In taking this position, Brando ventured into an area that Hollywood prefers not to discuss in meeting the necessities of producing entertainment for the masses.

Brando is in a special position, partly because of his independence, but particularly because his consistent defense of minority groups has made it impossible for him to be accused of bigotry. The actor has been caustic in his attacks on Hollywood for discrimination against Negroes.

Brando, whose parents are Protestants, has no active religious affiliation.

Brando said he realizes that racial equality was more important than whether ethnic humor was used in movies. But he believes it is possible to have the humor without jeopardizing the campaign for the dignity of minorities.

“I think if ethnic humor is done with warmth and in good taste, so that there is no possibility of malice, it can be done without provoking too much protest,” he said. “I know the audiences would enjoy it.

“It is too bad that in the process of seeking racial equality we are sacrificing our ethnic brands of humor. We are becoming a world without the freedom of humor.”

“The Negroes and Jews have produced more humor than any other groups in the country,” he declared. “Their contributions to humor have been fantastic. It may be that the centuries of oppression and living apart from other peoples made them develop their special kinds of humor.”

In one sense, he said, the deterioration of film comedy since the less inhibited era of the silent films has made it possible for him to do comedy. Brando just completed a major comedy role in “Bedtime Story,” which will be released by Universal early next month.

In “Bedtime Story,” he and David Niven play the parts of confidence men who fleece wealthy women. Brando disparaged his own talent as a comedian. He said he was able to perform the role because the picture was in the “formula style” of Hollywood that does not require the talents of a great comedian.

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