High up a winding road in the hills of Hollywood on a summer day in 1956, I drove my little gray ‘49 Pontiac, trying to ignore the tannish ribbon of smog obscuring the view of the city spread out below me. Finding the address I’d been given, I parked, then mounted steep stone steps to the wood-carved front door of a white stucco, Spanish-style house. I rang the bell and was greeted by a slim, blonde man who smilingly beckoned me to follow him down a few Mexican-tiled steps into a sunken sala, heavy with oriental rugs and wrought-iron and leather furniture.
“Hi. I’m Leighton,” said the man. “Have trouble finding the place? Brando likes his privacy so the place is somewhat hidden.”
Brando!? “Oh, no. Thank you.” I stood, smiling nervously, my portfolio of music held tightly to my chest. “My agent gave me good directions.”