Anna Kashfi was an Indian-born American film actress who was better renowned for her marriage to Hollywood icon Marlon Brando and the controversies surrounding her background than for her performing abilities. She was usually employed in films as a foreign exotic beauty because of her brown skin, and Hollywood was enamored with her alluring looks for a long time before turning its back on her. She began her career as a model in London and then moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in films. Her first Hollywood picture was ‘The Mountain,’ which was released in 1956, and she married Brando the same year, and they divorced a year and a half later. The custody struggle between them over their son Christian was in the press for a long time, and Brando eventually won. After her 1959 film ‘Night of the Quarter Moon,’ Anna went on to spend the remainder of her life away from the sparkle and glamour of Los Angeles. She died in August 2015 at the age of 80, leaving behind a grandson, Michael Brando.
Childhood and Adolescence
Joan O’Callaghan was born on September 30, 1934, in Darjeeling, India, to William and Phoebe Kashfi. His father was an Irishman stationed in British-controlled India who relocated his family to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) to work for the Indian railways.
Anna’s mother was a devout Hindu, and growing up in a Hindu household had a significant influence on the family’s beliefs. She had been inspired by the Hindu way of life since she was a youngster, and when she grew up, she chose the pseudonym Anna Kashfi.
She received her early education in Kolkata, and while the majority of the specifics regarding her childhood in India are based only on her personal records and comments, they are hotly debated.
She spoke with an Indian accent, dressed in Indian garb, performed Hindu rites such as touching feet and worshipped Hindu idols. Whether she converted formally or not, it was clear that the Hindu culture had a strong influence on her.
In August 1947, India gained independence from British authority, and the O’Callaghan family was forced to return to Europe, settling in Cardiff, where her father began working in a steel plant.
Anna was an aspiring model who was labeled as an ‘exotic foreign beauty’ due to her abnormally brown skin. But before modeling, she attended St Joseph’s Convent School and then Cardiff School of Art, after which she worked odd jobs.
Before trying her hand at modeling, she worked at butcher shops, ice cream parlors, and as a waitress. Anna swiftly became a favorite of several top modeling agencies in England, and she modeled for a few years in London until 1952, when she was discovered by a key Hollywood studio official, who promptly asked her to the United States to appear in films, and Anna was off to Hollywood.
The Career of Anna
Anna Kashfi was given her screen identity by the head of a well-known London modeling agency when she was 22 years old. She liked it so much that she adopted it and even had her name legally altered. She did, however, arrive in America using merely her birth name.
She began work on her first Hollywood production, ‘The Mountain,’ in which she played a Hindu girl, which was released in 1956. When her film was released, however, she became an instant figure of controversy since she imitated an Indian accent for her character although her features resembled those of a western actress.
She managed to get the attention of a number of Hollywood filmmakers, who wanted to cast her as a “foreign exotic beauty” who enchanted everyone with her wonderful features.
According to some publications, she bathed in coffee to create her brownish skin, which substantially added to her attractiveness. In 1959, she starred in ‘Battle Hymn,’ in which she played a Korean girl who survived a plane disaster.
Anna’s next picture, ‘Cowboy,’ was released the next year, and she played a Mexican character. The film ‘Night of the Quarter Moon’ marked the end of a brief career in the film industry.
She did, however, appear on television for a few episodes, but her drug and alcohol issues hampered her career, and her spat with Marlon Brando, her first husband and one of Hollywood’s biggest stars at the time, did not help matters.
Anna’s Scandal and Controversies
Anna Kashfi met Marlon Brando in 1956 while shooting her debut feature picture, ‘The Mountain,’ and she quickly piqued Marlon’s interest, and the two began dating.
She married Brando in 1957, but because her official paperwork listed her real name as Joanna O’Callaghan, she attempted but failed to change it to Anna Kashfi. Being Brando’s wife thrust her into the spotlight, and the controversies surrounding her past began to surface.
She stated that her father was an Indian named Devi Kashfi and her mother’s name was Selma Ghose, and she was of Indian descent. Her true father, Devi, died a few months ago, so he couldn’t be present during the wedding, according to an Indian friend of hers who gave an interview about her wedding.
Both of her Irish parents came out and stated that she was lying and that she was their biological daughter, claiming that she was fabricating her past in order to maintain the enigmatic aura that surrounded her.
However, when her book ‘Brando for Breakfast’ was published in 1979, the whole saga resurfaced when she revealed that William was her stepfather and that she was half-Indian.
Her parents publicly called her a liar because her mother said she was Irish and had no Indian blood in her. She fell in love with India while she was there, which is why she believes she is an Indian.
Marlon Brando’s marriage
Anna’s married relationship was always on the difficult side of things, just like her work and the rumors about her genuine background. She married Marlon in 1957, and everything went well for a while, but then things started to fall apart.
They had a kid named Devi by Anna, but Marlon preferred the name Christian, thus he was baptized, Christian Devi Brando. The pair didn’t make it, and after a year and a half of marriage, they filed for divorce.
Marlon Brando and Anna Kashfi were involved in a lengthy legal struggle over the custody of their son, Christian, which ended with the court awarding Marlon custody owing to Anna’s alcohol and drug problems.
Later interviews revealed Anna’s open hatred for Marlon, claiming he was sexually weak and a bisexual who couldn’t please women and hence went to men for his own sexual pleasures. This caused a stir in the industry, and the animosity between the two parties got even worse.
She married James Hannaford in 1974, but as she explains in her book ‘Brando for Breakfast,’ she was never happy in her second marriage. She frankly discussed her tumultuous connection with Brando in this book.
Anna Kashfi died on August 16, 2015, at the age of 80, in Washington, D.C.
Estimated Net worth
Anna Kashfi is one of the wealthiest and most well-known actors. Anna Kashfi’s net worth is estimated to be $5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.