Marlon Brando’s iconic civil rights dialogue with Johnny Carson on ‘The Tonight Show’

Marlon Brando and Johnny Carson

A rare interview appearance by Marlon Brando on ‘The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson’ from 1968 is featured in this clip. The interview starts with some laughs as Johnny reminds Brando that he was “dead drunk” the last time he appeared!

Johnny Carson

Previously, the show served champagne and alcohol in the green room for guests backstage as they waited to be interviewed. According to Johnny, they stopped doing that when Brando appeared for his interview after having one too many. The two men laughed it off and shared a fun memory with the audience!

Johnny introduced Brando as a man of conviction who cares deeply about serious causes. The next segment of the interview focused on why Brando left a film he was working on titled ‘The Arrangement.’ Brando tells him that he loved the movie and the director, but he had to leave the set because of Dr. King’s assassination.

Marlon Brando

Brando told the audience that all citizens need to do something person-to-person. He called for time, money, and effort to help the situation in our country. ‘Nothing is going to change unless I do it, the trombone player (pointing to a band member), and the guy sitting at home with a beer can does it,’ Brando claims.

He continues while Johnny is silent, ‘We have to give our time, our hearts, and our money to help the cause of black Americans.’ Brando was developing a program to give a portion of each person’s yearly earnings to the ‘Southern Christian Leadership Conference’ to further the works of Dr. King.

Marlon Brando and Johnny Carson

He worries tension and violence will arise, and polarization will occur. Brando was greatly inspired by Dr. King’s speeches and life efforts. He was seeking to have Congress pass laws to benefit race relations. He lists the many celebrities he has already convinced to contribute to Dr. King’s cause.

Brando had asked Johnny if he would commit to the pledge the day before the interview. Johnny tells Marlon that he doesn’t want to do it in public, but if it raises awareness, he will. It is a rather poignant moment in ‘The Tonight Show’ history that still resonates today. These two men and others were trying to find a way to improve our country using their celebrity appeal to further their efforts.

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Marlon Brando\'s iconic civil rights dialogue with Johnny Carson on \'The Tonight Show\'