Christian Brando
Credit: Nick Ut/AP

(From AP) Christian Brando, the eldest son of actor Marlon Brando, died of pneumonia at a Los Angeles hospital on Saturday morning. He was 49 years old.

It was an early end to an often-troubled life. His early years found him at the center of a decade-long custody battle between his mother, actress Anna Kafshi, and his legendary actor father, who ultimately won custody of the 13-year old boy. The young Brando grew up spending time in both Los Angeles and Tahiti. Of his 11 siblings and half-siblings, Brando developed a close relationship with his half-sister Cheyenne.

In 1990, a 20-year-old Cheyenne told Brando that she had been the victim of physical abuse at the hand of her boyfriend Dag Drollet, the father of her unborn child. Brando subsequently shot and killed Drollet in his father?s Hollywood Hills mansion — a crime that received international attention. He pleaded guilty to charges of involuntary manslaughter, serving six years of his 10-year sentence, before he was released in 1996. Cheyenne, who fled to Tahiti immediately after the murder and never testified at her half-brother?s trial, took her own life in 1995.

He remained out of the spotlight until 2001, when actor Robert Blake, accused of murdering his wife Bonnie Lee Bakely, suggested that Brando (who had dated her at one time) was the real killer. Having proven he was not in LA at the time of the murder, Brando was never charged.

The last few years were marked by still more tragedy and controversy. His father, Marlon Brando, died in July 2004. And in 2005, his new wife Deborah Pressley accused him of spousal abuse. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years probation; the couple divorced soon after the incident.

Christian Brando appeared in several movies including I Love You, Alice B. Toklas! and Yentl.

(AP via Google)