L.A. coroner probes Christian Brando's death

Tue Jan 29, 2008 9:45pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The Los Angeles County coroner has opened an investigation into the death of Hollywood legend Marlon Brando's eldest son, acting at the request of his family, a spokesman for the medical examiner said on Tuesday.

Medical examiners took custody of Christian Brando's body on Monday and performed an autopsy on Tuesday, but a finding on the cause of death will await toxicology tests that take six to eight weeks to complete, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of the coroner's office.

Brando, the troubled son of the late Oscar-winning screen star and Welsh actress Anna Kashfi, died early on Saturday at age 49, at a Los Angeles hospital where he was being treated for pneumonia, according to lawyers for his father's estate.

Winter said Brando's "family was concerned about his prior history, both medical and drug history, but I'm not going to go any further into it until we have a chance to look at it and do our investigation."

Brando's ex-wife, Deborah, was quoted in a weekend story on People magazine's Web site as saying her former spouse had been comatose and on a respirator before his death. "His body was totally compromised," she said. "He lived so hard. ... This is just so sad."

An attorney for Marlon Brando's estate, David Seeley, told Reuters it was Kashfi, Christian's long-estranged mother, who asked for a coroner's investigation.

"Neither the estate of Marlon Brando, nor its beneficiaries, are involved in these decisions," Seeley said. "At this point we have no reason to question the hospital's actions or the cause of death as previously stated," he added.

The autopsy came a day after Deborah Brando, who has claimed in the past to be the illegitimate child of Elvis Presley, filed suit against the executors of Marlon Brando's will asserting a claim to the actor's estate.   Continued...

<p>Defendant Christian Brando (L) is kissed by his father, actor Marlon Brando, after a judge accepted the elder Brando's home as bail for his son during a hearing in Santa Monica, California in this August 14, 1990 file photo. Brando has died, according to U.S. media reports on January 26, 2008. REUTERS/Pool/Files</p>