Kashfi in Night of the Quarter Moon (1959)
September 30, 1934
Darjeeling, British India
|Spouse(s)||Marlon Brando (1957-1959)
James Hannaford (1974-1986; his death)
Anna Kashfi (b. "Johanna O'Callaghan", September 30, 1934) is a British former film actress of disputed ethnic heritage who had a brief Hollywood career in the 1950s. She is best known for having been married to Marlon Brando.
Johanna O'Callaghan was born in Darjeeling, India, ostensibly of English parents. She was raised in Calcutta until she was 13, then from 1947 on in Cardiff, Wales, where the family moved after relocating from India. William P. O'Callaghan was a London-born steel worker of Irish descent, who had been a traffic superintendent on the Indian State railways.
By the age of 22 Johanna O'Callaghan had transformed herself into the exotic ethnic "Indian" actress Anna Kashfi. Given this adult transition, the matter of her actual ethnic heritage has remained in question. Both her English-born parents maintain she was their biological daughter. However, upon her 1957 marriage to Marlon Brando a year after adopting her stage name, Kashfi failed to list either on her marriage license, instead stating her real father was one Devi Kashfi and biological mother named Selma Ghose. In an October 14, 1957, wedding day interview with the The New York Times (entitled "Kashfi Still Enigma: License Does Not List Welsh Couple As Parents"), a friend of the bride was quoted as stating that Kashfi's purported Indian father had died six weeks before the ceremony.
Nevertheless, the O'Callaghans' were adamant that Kashfi was their child, and William O'Callaghan was quoted in Time magazine as saying, "That's our daughter, and both me and missus were born in London."
In her 1979 book, Brando for Breakfast, Kashfi retreated halfway and claimed she is half-Indian, maintaining that rather than William O'Callaghan being her real father he was in effect her stepfather. She stated her biological father was Indian and she was the result of an "unregistered alliance" between him and her mother. When questioned earlier in life about her daughter's heritage, her mother had told the press "There is no Indian blood in my family or my husband's family", which indeed rules out her ancestry and O'Callaghan's, but does admit the logical possibility of Anna's father having been Indian.
Film director Edward Dmytryk, who directed the actress in her first film, stated in a The New York Times interview (entitled "Kashfi Called Welsh") the day before her wedding to Brando that he knew her real surname was Irish but assumed that she was half-Indian. Further documentation one way or the other on Kashfi's ethnicity has not yet been produced.
She made her screen debut as an actress in 1956 in The Mountain (1956) for Paramount with Spencer Tracy and Robert Wagner. Using the stage name Anna Kashfi, the twenty-two year-old played a Hindu girl. In her next film a year later, Battle Hymn (1957), she co-starred with Rock Hudson as a Korean girl. A year after that she played a Mexican in Cowboy (1958) with Glenn Ford and Jack Lemmon. Her next and last film during this period was Night of the Quarter Moon (1959), where she played the African American wife of singer Nat King Cole. She made a few appearances on television, including the series Adventures in Paradise, though drug and alcohol problems reportedly contributed to the premature end of her acting career
Kashfi married Marlon Brando on October 11, 1957, whom she had met in the summer of 1956 and dated since. The couple was divorced a year and a half later on April 22, 1959.
They had a son, Christian Devi Brando, (1958–2008), whom they fought bitterly over, with Brando eventually winning custody. Kashfi married James Hannaford, a salesman, in 1974.
In the 1990s, Christian, whom she called "Devi", was tried for killing his half-sister Cheyenne Brando's boyfriend. Jailed for the crime, he later died of pneumonia in Los Angeles in 2008, aged 49.
Kashfi has one grandson, Michael Brando (born 1988).
- Peter Manso, Brando. The Biography, Hyperion, New York, 1994, ISBN 0-7868-6063-4
- "Kashfi Called Welsh", The New York Times, 13 October 1957
- "Kashfi Still Enigma: License Does Not List Welsh Couple As Parents", The New York Times, October 14, 1957
- Anna Kashfi (band) Interview by John Clarkson, September 24, 2004, Brando Unzipped, Darwin Porter, 2006
- Los Angeles Times report on Anna Kashfi
- Anna Kashfi at the Internet Movie Database
- Murder by Kashfi's son
- Anna Kashfi bio
- Anna Kashfi 'cried tears of rage' upon hearing of Marlon Brando's death