Sacheen Littlefeather: Rejected Brando’s Oscar in 1973, Dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather

Sacheen Littlefeather was booed at the Academy Awards in 1973 after she refused to accept the best actor award on Marlon Brando‘s behalf in objection to Hollywood’s depictions of Native Americans.

Sacheen Littlefeather, at an Academy event last month, stated, “Presenting all Indigenous voices out there” when she refused the Oscar on behalf of the actor Marlon Brando.

Sacheen Littlefeather, the Apache activist and actress who refused to accept the best actor award on Marlon Brando‘s behalf at the 1973 Oscars, pulled hoots onstage in the act that shot through the facade of the awards show and highlighted her objection to Hollywood for its portrayals of Native Americans, has died. She dies at 75.

Her death was announced by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday. Her death’s cause was not presently known.

She died weeks after the Academy apologized to Sacheen Littlefeather for behavior at the Oscars. In an August interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Ms Littlefeather said she was “stunned” by the apology. “I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this,” she said.

When Ms Littlefeather, then 26, held up her right hand that night inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles — clearly signalling to the award presenters, millions of the audience watching on TV that she had no wish to get the shiny golden statue — it honoured one of the best-known disruptive moments in the history of the Oscars.

Marlon Brando’s speech at Academy Awards in 1973 from Official Account of Oscars

Sacheen Littlefeather: Rejected Brando’s Oscar in 1973

“I appeal that I have not infringed upon this evening and that in future, our hearts will meet with love and benevolence,” Ms Littlefeather stated at the set, having abode a chorus of boos and some joyfulness from the public.

A glimmering buckskin dress with moccasins and hair ties, her arrival at the 45th Academy Awards was the first time a Native American lady had stood onstage. But the criticism was immediate: The actor John Wayne was so delinquent that a show producer, Marty Pasetta, told that security guards had to control him, not storm the stage.

In August, she told The Hollywood Reporter: “When I was at the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

Ms Littlefeather, whose birth name was Marie Cruz, was born on Nov. 14, 1946, in California. Her father was from the White Mountain Apache, and a French-German-Dutch mother. After high school, she changed her name to Sacheen Littlefeather to “recall her natural inheritance.”

Her website stated she partook in the Native American profession of Alcatraz Island, which started in 1969 in an act of defiance against a government they spoke had long tramped on their rights.

Her career in acting began at the American Conservatory Theater in the early 1970s. She would play roles in films like “The Trial of Billy Jack” and “Winterhawk.”

Littlefeather, in an interview with the Academy, stated that she had intended to watch the awards on television when she received a call from Mr Brando just the night before the ceremony, who had been nominated for “The Godfather.”

The two had become friends through her neighbour, the director Francis Ford Coppola. Mr Brando told her to reject the award on his behalf if he won and gave her a speech to read.

Before 15 minutes of the program, Littlefeather reached the ceremony with little details about how the night would work.

A producer noticed the pages in Littlefeather’s hand and told them that she would be captured if her comments endured more than 1 minute.

Then, Mr Brando won.

Ms Littlefeather also brought attention to the federal government’s standoff with Native Americans at Wounded Knee in the speech.

She later remembered that while giving the speech, she “concentrated on the mouths and the jaws that were falling open in the audience, and there were just a few.”

The audience looked like a “sea of Clorox” to Sacheen Littlefeather.

She said the audience did the so-called “tomahawk chop”, and when she went to Mr Brando‘s house later, people shot at the doorway.

“I didn’t represent myself,” she said. “I was depicting Indigenous voices as we had never heard like that earlier.”

And when she expressed those words, the audience burst into applause.

“I had to bear because those doors had to be opened.” she stated.

After knowing that the Academy will apologize to her, Ms Littlefeather stated it was deemed “like a big cleanse.”

“It sounds like the holy circle is ending itself,” Sacheen Littlefeather stated.

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