Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American actress and activist who in 1973 turned down an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, has died at the age of 75.
This Sunday, October 2, the Academy of Oscars announced on Twitter the death of the actress and Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather. The one who refused an Oscar in 1973 on behalf of Marlon Brando died at the age of 75.
In its message announcing his passing, the Academy quoted the words of Sacheen Littlefeather: “When I am gone, always remember that each time you stand up for your truth, you will keep alive my voice and the voices of our nations and of our peoples.
Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who famously declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Academy Award, dies at 75. pic.twitter.com/OlpsoItlCw
— The Academy (@TheAcademy) October 3, 2022
Two weeks ago, the Academy held a ceremony at its new museum in Los Angeles to honor and publicly apologize to Sacheen Littlefeather, of Apache and Yaqui descent.
boo at the Oscars
At the 1973 Academy Awards – the first to be broadcast live worldwide – Littlefeather was booed as she explained on behalf of Marlon Brando why he wouldn’t accept his Best Actor Oscar for ‘The Godfather. “.
The actor had asked the actress to refuse the award for him in protest against the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry.
1973: Native American actor Sacheen Littlefeather boo’d (and cheered) by Hollywood at the Oscars before being mocked by Clint Eastwood and almost physically assaulted by John Wayne simply for asking that Indigenous people not to be dehumanized in film.pic.twitter.com/BgOiuBq4hR
— rafael shimunov (@rafaelshimunov) October 11, 2021
“I went there, like a proud Indian woman, with dignity, courage, grace and humility,” she said during the ceremony at the museum. “I knew I had to tell the truth. Some people can accept it. And some don’t.”
“It’s never too late for forgiveness”
A member of the Screen Actors Guild (the first union of film actors founded in 1933), Sacheen Littlefeather later reported that security guards had to prevent John Wayne, the star of westerns, from physically assaulting her.
In the years since, Littlefeather has said she was mocked, discriminated against and personally attacked for her brief Oscar appearance. She explained that this speech had cost her her career, believing that the American government had encouraged the entertainment industry to avoid hiring her.
Asked by reporters how she felt about waiting so long to receive an apology, Ms Littlefeather was philosophical. “It’s never too late for an apology. It’s never too late for forgiveness,” she replied.
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Death of Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American actress who refused an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando