Born Henry Kleinbach, the name under which he appeared until 1936, Brandon was a tall man with black curly hair; he occasionally played the handsome lead but was more often typecast to play villains. As the latter, he appeared as white, Indian, German, and Asian men. Brandon's film career began with Babes in Toyland (1934) and went on to span fifty years. He played villains whom the audiences loved to hate in serials in the '30s and '40s, such as the Cobra in Jungle Jim, the mastermind criminal Blackstone in Secret Agent X-9, Captain Lasca in Buck Rogers Conquers the Universe (1939), and a sinister Oriental in Drums of Fu Manchu. Brandon played Indian chiefs no fewer than 26 times, notably in two John Ford westerns. He had occasional leading roles on New York stage, such as in a 1949 revival of Medea in which he played a virile Jason opposite Judith Anderson.