Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who denied Marlin Brando’s ‘Godfather’ Oscar, dies at 75

Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather dies at age 75

Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather dies at age 75


Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American civil rights activist best known for turning down Marlon Brando’s best actor Oscar for “The Godfather” in 1973, has died at age 75, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and her family announced late on Sunday.

She had breast cancer, her family said.

In her obituary tweet, the academy quoted her as saying: “When I am gone, always remember that whenever you stand for the truth, you will keep my voice and the voices of our nations and our people alive. stay Sacheen Littlefeather. Thank you.”

At the Academy Awards in October 1973, Littlefeather, wearing a leather dress and moccasins, became the first Native American woman to take the Oscar stage.

In a 60-second speech, he said Brando could not accept the award.

It was frowned upon by some in the audience. John Wayne, who was backstage, was reportedly furious.

The 1973 Oscars took place during the two-month occupation of Wounded Knee by the American Indian Movement in South Dakota.

Her family said Sunday that Littlefeather turned down the Oscar on Brando’s behalf in an effort to “end stereotyping of Native people in film, television and sports.

Sacheen Littlefeather speaking at the Academy Awards
Native American Sacheen Littlefeather speaking at the 45th Academy Awards in October 1973, rejected Marlon Brando’s Best Actor Oscar on his behalf.

Bettmann via Getty Images

“As a result, Sacheen has been professionally boycotted, personally harassed and attacked, and discriminated against for nearly 50 years,” the statement continued.

The Academy formally apologized for Hollywood’s treatment of her in a letter from then-Academy President David Rubin in June.

“The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unwarranted,” Rubin wrote. “The emotional toll you have experienced and the cost to your own career in our industry is irreparable. For too long the courage you have shown has gone unrecognized. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

Littlefeather said in a statement that it was “deeply encouraging to see how much has changed since I didn’t accept the Oscar 50 years ago.”

In September, what the family described as a “heartfelt tribute” was held at the Academy Museum’s David Geffen Theater in Los Angeles “with a sold-out audience in attendance.”

“Although many people criticized Sacheen and treated her in a negative way, she forgave them all, held no grudges and continued her life in a positive way, showing everyone love and forgiveness,” the family said.

According to the family, Littlefeather was a model and actress known for roles in “Billy Jack” in 1974, “Winterhawk” the following year, “Reel Injun” in 2010 and “Sacheen: Breaking The Silence,” in 2018 .

A Requiem Mass for Littlefeather is planned for later this month at St. Rita in Fairfax, California.

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