Rita Moreno Still Keeps a Photo of Marlon Brando in her Bedroom: 'He was the Lust of My Life'
Rita Moreno‘s iconic and eclectic career is the stuff of Hollywood legends — and so is her 5,500-square-foot, multilevel contemporary home.
Nestled in the Berkeley Hills and overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Moreno — who moved into the three-bedroom, three-and-a-half bath home with her late husband Leonard Gordon 16 years ago — has decorated the space in colorful ways to reflect her Puerto Rican heritage, world travels and family, which includes respectful nods to the “lust” and “love” of her life: ex-Marlon Brando and Gordon, her husband of 45 years.
Moreno’s romantic tokens (both of which are featured in the video above) are in her favorite room in the house, the bedroom. The 85-year-old’s tribute to her torrid 8-year affair with Brando, whom she met at age 22 on the set of the Napoleon biopic Désirée, is a framed black and white photo of the Godfather actor in his prime.
“Why that picture of Marlon Brando? Because he was a big love of mine in my life,” says Moreno matter-of-factly. “This one, it’s almost seems like a vignette out of a movie, so that’s why it’s there. He was the lust of my life and that over there is the love of my life,” admits Moreno, gesturing to a framed photo of her with her husband, pictured in an embrace, in silhouette. “This was taken by a very famous fashion photographer at the time, it is a really special photo. I just love it because even though we are silhouetted, you can still see features, which I think is so special. A special photo in a special room for a special mama.”
Moreno, who is currently appearing in Netflix’s One Day at a Time reboot as scene-stealing grandmother Lydia, says she designed the room with love, affection and warmth, including the textured wallpaper she used on the walls called grasscloth.
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“I love this room, I can never get tired of it, I get excited to be in it again when I come home again after months away, I just adore being in here,” she says. “Everything that I want, I have right here. You give me a little crockpot and I could live here. I very often do.”
In her 2013 memoir, Rita Moreno, the EGOT winner wrote about her relationship with Brando in detail — an emotionally wrought, tumultuous time in her life that included an abortion and a suicide attempt. Moreno credits therapy, leaving Hollywood and returning to the the New York stage with helping her get through that difficult time, but says that marrying Leonard in 1965 played the biggest role in her recovery. “We balance each other,” she told PEOPLE. “I am not exactly Mrs. Good Housekeeping, although I love to cook, bake, even iron, but only because it’s not mandatory.” Years later, Brando was welcomed into Moreno and Leonard’s family as a close friend.
“[My daughter] came home from school one day and found him playing the congas in our living room,” Moreno recalled. “She called him ‘the man with the drums.’ ”
For much more on Moreno’s colorful Berkeley Hills contemporary and an inside look at celebrity homes, please pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on stands Friday.