Movita Castaneda, a movie actress who married Marlon Brando in 1960 and had two children with him, died Feb. 12 in a Los Angeles rehabilitation center. She was believed to be 98.
Her death came after hospitalization for a neck injury, said Barbara Sternig, a family friend.
One of Ms. Castaneda’s first films, “Mutiny on the Bounty,” a 1935 drama with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, came back to play a powerful role in her life decades later.
Ms. Castaneda, who was known as Movita, had a small role as a beautiful Tahitian maiden who married one of the mutineers.
The film was remade in 1962 with Brando, Movita’s husband, playing the mutiny’s leader, Fletcher Christian. Nineteen-year-old Tarita Teri’ipaia played his Tahitian lover — and the two also became lovers off-screen.
After Movita and Brando divorced, Teri’ipaia became Brando’s third wife. They later divorced.
Maria Luisa Castaneda was born to Mexican parents on a train crossing the border into Nogales, Ariz. She grew up in Los Angeles.
Her birth date varies in different accounts. It was April 12, 1916, according to her family, but some sources list it as 1921. Movita was a name coined for her by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio executives, who thought it sounded Polynesian.
As a girl, she developed a talent for singing and dancing, and she performed with a Mexican duo known as Rosita and Moreno. In 1933, she was spotted by RKO producer Pandro S. Berman, who signed her as a singer in “Flying Down to Rio,” the first film in which Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced together.
In the 1930s, Movita appeared in films including “Paradise Isle,” “The Hurricane” and “Captain Calamity.” In a romance followed by gossip columnists, she married Irish prizefighter Jack Doyle in 1939. Their civil ceremony took place in Ensenada, Mexico, because he had been ordered out of the United States for entering it illegally.
Doyle, a tenor known as “the Irish thrush,” performed with Movita at European cabarets. For a time, the two owned a London nightclub called the Swizzle Stick. But Doyle was an alcoholic who cheated on her and eventually became abusive. They divorced in 1944.
Movita met Brando on a movie set in the early 1950s. They did not disclose their marriage publicly until he was asked about it in court a year after their nuptials. He and his ex-wife, actress Anna Kashfi, were at each other’s throats over visitation and alimony problems when he dropped the bombshell.
He also revealed that he and Movita had a son named Sergio. Known as Miko, he became an aide and longtime confidant to Michael Jackson. The couple later had a daughter named Rebecca.
In 1968, Movita won an annulment from Brando, prompting the Los Angeles Times to declare that the “eight-year marriage . . . has ended as it began: mysteriously.”
Trying to spend as much time as she could with her children, she delivered batteries and radiators for a Santa Monica, Calif., auto shop.
In addition to Miko, Rebecca and four grandchildren, Movita’s survivors include her 102-year-old sister, Petra.