Brando almost forced her suicide, when a botched abortion and his serial infidelity during a turbulent eight-year affair drove her to overdose on sleeping pills When she came to New York in 1937, her mother Rosa Maria was so poor she had to leave behind baby son, Francisco, Moreno’s brother, with her grandparents because she wouldn’t be able to support both children.Mother and daughter lived initially in a Latino ghetto in New York’s Bronx district.Rooting through his medicine cabinet, she swallowed a handful of sleeping pills.
Novak was popular in box office popularity polls, and she starred opposite several top leading men of the era, including Fred Mac Murray, William Holden, Frank Sinatra, Tyrone Power, Kirk Douglas and Laurence Harvey.
Although still young, her career declined in the early 1960s, and after several years in a series of lackluster films, she withdrew from acting in 1966. She later returned to the screen in The Mirror Crack'd (1980), and had a regular role on the prime time series Falcon Crest (1986–87).
She is seen above (centre) in The King And I opposite Yul Brynner Moreno was 22 when Brando, then 30, spotted her on the cover of Life magazine.
They met soon after, in the make-up room on the set of Desiree, a 1954 film in which Brando played Napoleon.
She was less impressed when their ‘rather sweet love affair’ ended one evening with him sitting her on his lap and showing her a photo album.
She played out one final ‘act’ with Brando in 1968 when he asked her to be his love interest in the thriller The Night Of The Following Day.She began her film career in 1954 after signing with Columbia Pictures.There, she became a successful actress, starring in a string of movies, among them the critically acclaimed Picnic (1955).But as fellow Hispanics, they at least shared a deep resentment of Hollywood’s ethnic stereotyping.Dubbed the 'hot Latin spitfire' - which the hard-working actress hated - Moreno spent her career fighting a Hollywood that cast Hispanic actors in any role that required a non-white.It was here that she was discovered by an agent, who signed her to a long-term contract with Columbia Pictures.