Fifty Years After Declining Marlon Brando’s Oscar for Him, Sacheen Littlefeather Gets an Apology

At the Academy Awards held 50 years ago, Marlon Brando was announced as the winner of the Best Supporting Actor race for his portrayal of Don Corleone in Godfather. But instead of the actor standing on stage, Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather, then 26, turned down the Oscar at his behest. She read from his notes, in part because “the film industry treats Native Americans…and on television in reruns.”

Breaking what is usually a Hollywood evening of self-congratulation and gratitude, for half a century she has regularly appeared in each of the annual round-ups of “the wildest moments at the awards ceremony.” Oscar!,” and in pop culture short stories. These long-ignored glittering references are the painful impact of the boos and fury she receives at the moment, and the harassment, intimidation, and Hollywood blacklisting that Ambitious actress has suffered for decades. Now, in an act of exclamation about what she’s endured since her moment on the Oscars stage, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has sent her a major apology. awake and invited her to be the guest of honor at an event at its museum. , based on The Hollywood Reporter.

“I was amazed,” Littlefeather, now 75, tells Annunciator. “I never thought I would live to see the day I hear this, experience this. When I stood on the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

Back in 1973, the reaction to her speech was immediate and explosive. Many audience members during the Academy Awards booed and mocked her, and one of the show’s producers warned that she would be arrested if she went beyond the 60 seconds they had assigned her. John Wayne had to be restrained to remove her from the stage.

Former Academy president David Rubin wrote in the organization’s apology letter, sent to Littlefeather in June: “The abuse you have suffered because of this claim is baseless and unreasonable. “The emotional burden you’ve gone through and the price paid for your own career in our industry is irreparable. For too long the bravery you show has gone unrecognized. For this, we extend our deepest apologies and sincere admiration. “

Before the 1973 Oscars, Littlefeather had several film roles and met with the FCC to discuss better representation of minorities on TV. (In the documentary Sacheen: Break the silence, Littlefeather said she was “blacklisted” by the film industry for giving a speech.) When she took the stage at the Oscars, it was the scene of the occupation Injured Knee 1973, where activists Oglala Lakota (and others in the American Indian Movement) occupied Wound Knee, South Dakota for 71 days. Their goal was for the U.S. government to recognize treaties from two centuries ago, and an armed armistice resulted in the loss of two of the native activists’ lives: Brando also gave Littlefeather a career. This was one of the main motives for refusing his award. .

On March 27, 1973, the night of the Oscars, when she walked on stage and rejected the statue presented by actors Roger Moore and Liv Ullmann, Littlefeather said, “I represent Marlon Brando tonight and he asked me to tell you in a very long speech, i cannot share it with you at the moment because of time but i will be happy to share with the press later, that he regrets not being able to receive This award is very generous. And the reason for this is the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today – pardon me – and on television in reruns, and also the recent developments in Knee Injury. love. At this time, I pray that I have not trespassed this evening and that in the future our hearts and understanding will meet with love and generosity. “

At the Academy event on September 17, Littlefeather, whose family lineage comes from Apache and Yaqui, will speak to Bird Runningwater, the head of the Oscars Native Coalition. Fifty Years After Declining Marlon Brando’s Oscar for Him, Sacheen Littlefeather Gets an Apology

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