Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American actress who took the Oscars stage in 1973 to reject Marlon Brando’s award, died Sunday, the Motion Picture Academy said. She was 75 years old.
“Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American Civil Rights Activist Who Rejected Marlon Brando’s 1973 Academy Award for Best Actor, Dies at 75,” the tweet read.
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In 1973, Littlefeather took the stage to reject Brando’s victory for The Godfather where he said the following: “He very sorry cannot accept this generous award. And the reasons for this are the treatment that the film industry gives to American Indians today… and on television in reruns of movies, and also with the recent events at Wounded Knee.”
Earlier this year, a documentary titled Sacheen: Breaking The Silence Littlefeather revealed that Hollywood “blacklisted” her after the political stunt.
“It was the first time anyone had made a political statement at the Oscars,” says Littlefeather in the documentary. “It was the first Oscar ceremony to be broadcast by satellite around the world, which is why Marlon chose it. I didn’t have an evening dress, so Marlon told me to wear my buckskin.”
He also noted that John Wayne “was backstage and wanted to burst onstage and drag me out”.
In August of this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a “reconciliation statement” formally apologizing to Littlefeather.
The actor released a statement after the apology saying, “Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people, it’s only been 50 years! We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It is our method of survival,” Littlefeather said in today’s press release.
Littlefeather’s acting credits include shoot the sun (1978), winterhawk (1975), johnny fire cloud (1975), freebie and the bean (1974), Billy Jack’s Trial (1974), The laughing policeman (1973) and Crime Counselor (1973).