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How an ordinary attorney got hired as general counsel to Marlon Brando

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How an ordinary attorney got hired as general counsel to Marlon Brando

Dec 30, 2013, 04:19 pm CDT

When David Seeley was working as a deputy prosecutor for Clark County, Wash., he happened to handle a number of cases against the son of a woman who said she knew Marlon Brando.

He didn't believe her when she said the famous actor was interested in her son's cases. And in 2000, when she called Seeley up shortly after he went into private practice and told him Brando wanted to meet him because she'd been impressed with his work, Seeley thought she was joking. When he had an assistant call the Los Angeles number the woman gave him, however, Brando's iconic voice was soon on the other end of the line, reports the Seattle Times.

The woman who'd given him the number was a business manager for Brando and Seeley took a flight to Los Angeles the day after the phone call to meet the celebrity who would become his new client. Seeley, now 49, served as Brando's general counsel for the last four years of the actor's life and has continued to serve as general counsel for Brando Enterprises following the actor's death in 2004. A partner of Livengood, Fitzgerald & Alskog, Seeley also handles general litigation, criminal defense and school district matters working in an office decorated with licensed Brando memorabilia.

“Any time the phone rang after 10 p.m. at home, I knew it was Marlon,” says Seeley. “I think to some degree he was lonely and a little isolated late in his life.”

Brando didn't like Los Angeles lawyers, who he felt charged too much, Seeley says, and, although Brando never discussed acting or his films, he had eclectic business interests.

On Seeley's first visit to Los Angeles, the lawyer brought with him a Seattle patent attorney, at Brando's request. The actor, who loved to play bongo and conga drums, had a drumhead-tightening device patented in 2002, the Times recounts. At Brando's instigation, Seeley also whipped up a contract on short notice for Michael Jackson to pay his client $1 million to introduce him for a television special. The introduction wasn't used, but Brando still got the $1 million.

An Internet marketing plan to sell signed coconuts from Tetiaroa, an atoll in French Polynesia that Brando purchased after first visiting the island during the filming of Mutiny on the Bounty, was less fruitful. Although Seeley said he was present when Brando discussed the idea on speakerphone with Jeff Bezos of Amazon, it never went anywhere.

Nonetheless, the actor left a $26 million estate, and his survivors expect to profit from a 99-year lease that will allow a developer to open a luxury "eco-resort" on Brando's island next year. It will be air conditioned through a plan Brando envisioned, using piped seawater, the article notes.

See also:

ABAJournal.com: "Marlon Brando Estate Sues Harley-Davidson over Boot Name"

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