LOS ANGELES – A woman who was Marlon Brando's caregiver, companion and self-described "major domo" of the household in the last years of his life has sued his executors, claiming she is a victim of fraud, deceit and a broken oral contract with the actor to give her a house.
Angela Borlaza accused producer Mike Medavoy and fellow executors Larry J. Dressler and Avra Douglas of executing a codicil to Brando's will 13 days before his death on July 1, 2004, that transferred power to them from the former trustees who were his longtime advisers.
Borlaza claimed Brando was suffering from "a plethora of diseases" and was too ill to sign anything. She suggested his signature was forged on the codicil.
Medavoy could not be reached for comment, and phone messages left for his lawyer, Charles Larson, were not returned. A message left for Dressler was not immediately returned.
According to the lawsuit, Brando had pulmonary fibrosis, dementia and other ailments on June 18, 2004, when Dressler and a lawyer arrived at his Mulholland Drive estate, where Borlaza ushered them into Brando's bedroom. Then, according to Borlaza, the men told Brando they were there to change his will.
The changes "were designed to isolate" Brando from his longtime advisers and friends in order to take over his financial and personal affairs and gain control of his estate after his death, the court filing said.
Borlaza said that during the meeting, a handyman was summoned to be a witness, but that she believed that Brando never signed anything because he was incapable of doing so.
Brando "was incapacitated, confused, medicated and non-communicative at the time of the alleged signing ceremony," said one of the documents filed Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court. It said that the actor had given Borlaza a secret code by which to recognize his signature, but that the code was not on the codicil.
Borlaza's suit said the original trustees of Brando's estate were his assistant and confidante of approximately 50 years, Alice Marchak, and his business manager of some 40 years, Jo Ann Corrales. Both were fired shortly before his death, according to Borlaza.
Borlaza said that she was hired in 1995 as Brando's cook and eventually became the "major domo" of his residence and his personal assistant, and that she "acted in his stead when he was not home."
"During the last years of his life, (Borlaza) and (Brando) had a loving and close relationship," the suit said.
As compensation for her work, she said, Brando bought her a house where she lived with her children and her sister. She claimed Brando bought the house for her in 2002 but kept it in his name for tax purposes, promising her the deed would be transferred to her before his death.
Brando "became too ill and failed to execute said deed prior to his death," according to the suit.
It claimed that many people knew of the agreement and that when Borlaza approached Medavoy about it after the actor's death, he assured her repeatedly "that she had nothing to worry about concerning the house, that the estate was going to do the right thing by her."
Borlaza's suit said the house has been sold. She is seeking the proceeds from the sale, as well as $2 million in punitive damages.