Marlon Brando's former assistant is wondering what she did to be treated so disrespectfully.
Angela Borlaza has sued the co-executors of the late actor's estate, claiming that they took advantage of Brando's deteriorating condition in the final days of his life to manipulate him into changing the terms of his will.
According to the suit filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court, Hollywood producer Mike Medavoy and his brother-in-law, Larry J. Dressler, told Borlaza that she could not be present while they and Dressler's attorney, Charles Larson, met with Brando when he was "incapacitated, confused, medicated and non-communicative" so that the Godfather icon could name new executors for his estate, said to be worth more than $20 million.
Instead, Borlaza stated, a handyman referred to in documents as "Sam" served as a witness. The disgruntled onetime employee has also said that Neil Dexter, who supposedly notarized the change to Brando's will, was not even at the house that day.
(Meanwhile, Larson has denied being there, while Borlaza stated that he "absolutely and unequivocally" made the scene.)
The amendment, dated June 18, 2004, made Medavoy and Dressler co-executors, booting Brando's personal assistant Alice Marshak and his business manager Jo An Corrales from the job.
Corrales didn't take the switch sitting down, either. She sued Brando's estate in 2004, for breach of contract and for sexual harassment, alleging that the two-time Academy Award winner created a "hostile work environment" for her. The two sides reached an undisclosed settlement in February.
Marchak considers herself a contender, as well, filing a lawsuit stating that she, too, is entitled to a million-dollar piece of the pie.
While friends of Brando have stated that it was Borlaza who didn't let on that his health was rapidly declining and who kept the actor isolated from visitors, Borlaza insisted in court documents that it was Medavoy and Dressler who changed Brando's financial affairs to "isolate him from his longtime advisors and personal friends in order to?gain control over [his] estate after his death."
A 2005 Playboy article reported that, although Brando was indeed more dependent on Borlaza toward the end, he told Corrales that his assistant was holding too many cards.
"I want you to write this down: 'Emotional involvement with Angela getting out of hand. Marlon wants out. Angela has too much power,'" Brando supposedly told Corrales over the phone.
Brando died July 1, 2004, of lung failure.
Borlaza, who was originally hired by Brando to be a cook at his Beverly Hills residence and eventually assumed the role of office and personal assistant, has accused Medavoy and Dressler of fraud, deceit and breach of oral contract (among other things) and is seeking more than $2 million in damages.
Her biggest beef appears to be her claim that she was wrongly evicted by the defendants from the San Fernando Valley home that her onetime boss bought for her in 2002. According to her 40-page complaint, Brando purchased the house under his corporation, Penny Poke Farms, and had not had a chance to transfer the title into Borlaza's name before his death.
Borlaza, who also claims to have been trained by Brando to recognize possible forgeries of his signature, turned down a let's-put-this-behind-us offer of $25,000 from the estate in December 2004. Brando, Borlaza said, had a very specific way of signing his name that she couldn't detect in the will codicil in question.
Alongside the inherent tragedy of a Hollywood legend passing away, the fact that Brando didn't have much of a chance to rest in peace either before or after his death is another sad story. His son Christian murdered the boyfriend of his daughter, Cheyenne, in his Bel Air home in 1990, after which a hefty chunk of Brando's riches went toward legal fees. Christian was found guilty of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Cheyenne committed suicide in 1995.
In 2002 Brando's former maid/lover sued him for $100 million, saying that she had had three children with the On the Waterfront star and was owed a significant portion of his assets. (That suit was eventually dismissed after a hush-hush agreement was arrived at.)
Brando's will named nine children as beneficiaries.