The Fall of the House of Brando began as an homage to the rebel actor. But Peter Manso, author of Brando: The Biography and Ptown, found the Hollywood legend's estate in chaos. "As soon as I started to get into it," he says, "I realized this was a very strange situation even by his usual standards. There had been a shift of his will's executors 13 days prior to his death, and the outgoing executors included Alice Marchak, whom Marlon trusted more than anybody on the face of the earth. A piece that was going to be a modest tribute to Brando suddenly became something that wound up consuming six months of my life. The article says as much about the vanity of Hollywood as it does about Marlon and his madness. Brando was going to con the world; he was going to outsmart everyone. But the con got conned."
If you want to learn to craft ultraluxe Italian suitcases, belts, wallets and more out of the finest materials, enroll at Scuola del Cuoio ("leather school") in Florence. If you just want the goods, pull out your plastic and go to the scuola's English site, www.leatherschool.com. Pictured: small (about $8,700), medium ($11,500) and large ($12,250) crocodile-skin suitcases with brass fixtures.
You're cruising down the autobahn outside Berlin, late for an appointment in Paris. The speedometer is pinned. She says, "Will we make it, honey?" You check your new Dunhill Car Watch, whose angled crystal cover lets you see the time without taking your hand off the wheel. (You've had the plate number of your speedster engraved beneath the watch face.) "Don't sweat it," you say. "We've got 10 minutes to spare." Two styles are available. Pictured: black face with stainless steel bracelet ($3,220, dunhill.com).
Cuff Links are all about melding style and structure. Now you can get some help with that task from Frank Lloyd Wright, the man responsible for some of the 20th century's most strikingly stylish structures. The design adorning the Frank Lloyd Wright Thomas House cuff links seen here is taken from a light fixture in the entryway of one of the architect's most renowned creations, the Thomas House in Oak Park, Illinois. Unlike one of Wright's originals, these will run you only $70 at cuffart.com. Just be sure to Google "prairie style architecture" and spend a few minutes forming incisive opinions before you use them as a conversation starter.
The Simplest Tools are the best, and Blue Nile couldn't resist combining two of them in its cleverly named Money Clip Knife ($50, bluenile.com). Even if you don't need a sterling blade to protect your wad, it doesn't hurt to have one around to cut the foil on that 1966 Bordeaux you just bought.
The Twisted story of tequila, in a nutshell: Way back when, the Aztecs drank a beer-like brew they made from agave lilies. They considered the drink a gift from the goddess Mayahuel, who had 400 breasts. When the Spanish pillaged Mexico in the 1500s, they brought stills with them and made liquor out of the local brew. Tequila was born--the bastard son of Aztec mysticism and European conquest. When it comes to your bar, you need three bottles--an añejo (aged for at least a year; for after-dinner sipping), a reposado (aged two to 12 months; for sipping and cocktails) and a blanco (aged up to 30 days; also for sipping and cocktails). Our picks, from far left: Herradura Seleccion Suprema añejo ($300), Milagro Select Barrel Reserve reposado ($70) and Don Julio blanco ($45).
Car commercials on TV always include a disclaimer that reads, "Professional driver. Closed course." How do you become one of these drivers, what is the pay, and is it necessary to become a professional to drive a car for a commercial?--Z.C., Albuquerque, New Mexico
From Website Peace-out.com, which assists U.S. soldiers who wish to apply for conscientious objector status: "Do you feel that war is wrong? Do you feel uncomfortable carrying a weapon or training for combat? Do these beliefs come from religious conviction or a more personal, philosophical position? The military does not allow for a nuanced position. If your application is based on the wrongness of a particular war, it will be rejected. You must be committed to peace in almost every situation. Assuming that you volunteered, you must have come to the conclusion that war is wrong after your enlistment. This is far from uncommon, as many soldiers simply do not realize how they feel about war until they are deployed. Some soldiers in your unit may not be supportive, but you will be following a process recognized by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. If they don't agree with the process, they should take it up with the Pentagon."
The other afternoon actress Karina Lombard wasn't doing much of anything but lounging around her house in Los Angeles after starting her day the way she usually does, by cleaning her tongue with a tongue scraper and jogging on the beach. She was still wearing her sweatpants. Karina, 36, with long, dark cascading hair, looked out a window at her garden and said happily, "Everything is very green right now. It's an easy life here."
MARLON BRANDO'S LIFE WAS FULL OF TRAGEDY, ACRIMONY, SQUANDERED TALENT AND SCANDAL. HIS DEATH AND ITS AFTERMATH HAVE BEEN NO DIFFERENT. FOR AMERICA'S GREATEST ACTOR PEACE WAS UNATTAINABLE, EVEN AT THE END
Below is a list of retailers and manufacturers you can contact for information on where to find this month's merchandise. To buy the apparel and equipment shown on pages 34, 39-42, 104-109, 110-111, and 162-163, check the listings below to find the stores nearest you.
If you ever find yourself in an airport bar, waiting for a delayed flight and sitting next to a guy you think you may have played baseball with in high school, you're probably rubbing elbows with John Heffron. After edging out nine other comics on the second season of NBC's highly rated Last Comic Standing, the 33-year-old L.A.-based comedian is temporarily parked in fame's idyllic no-man's-land. He's renowned enough to snag a $50,000 development deal with NBC and to spend six days a week performing live, but he's not so celebrated that he can't go grocery shopping without the contents of his cart being reported in Us Weekly. "A lot of people turn their head when I walk by," he says. "They go, 'I know you from somewhere.' I send them on a wild goose chase, like, 'Maybe we went to high school together.' I never want to go, 'Perhaps you've seen me on The Tonight Show.'" With observational humor that has earned comparisons to Jerry Seinfeld's ("Say you go to a strip club and you weren't supposed to be there. Don't get the stripper wearing the glitter. Unless you left with it on"), it won't be long before Heffron's blissful semi-anonymity comes to a halt. Will there be a show titled Heffron? "Who knows?" he says. "But if that happens, I know who should play my wife--Alyssa Milano"
End of the mob--Mother of Mercy, is this really the end of Rico and Vito and Joe the Schnoz? Pulitzer prize winner Jimmy Breslin hits the streets to capture the panic in Mobland. Then Nick Bryant explores why the feds have suppressed an ex-capo's grisly confessions, and Charles Brandt sets the record straight on the death of Crazy Joey Gallo. It's just the fix you'll need until the Sopranos returns.
Playboy (ISSN 0032-1478), July 2005, volume 52, number 7. Published monthly by Playboy in national and regional editions, Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Periodicals postage paid at Chicago, Illinois and at additional mailing offices. Canada Post Canadian Publications Mail Sales Product Agreement No. 40035534. Subscriptions: in the U.S., $29.97 for 12 issues. Postmaster: Send address change to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. For subscription-related questions, call 800-999-4438, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.