Sacheen Littlefeather, the actress and activist known for refusing the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando in 1973He has died at the age of 75. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences confirmed the sad news through its social networks, announcing that Littlefeather had passed away on Sunday, October 2, 2022.
In 1973, Brando predicted that he would receive the Oscar for Best Actor for his work in ‘The Godfather’ and decided to send Littlefeather, who took the stage to reject the award on behalf of the actor, delivering a speech of denunciation: “Sadly, he cannot receive this generous award. And the reason is the treatment that Native Americans receive today by the film industry and in television rerunsin addition to what happened recently at Wounded Knee”.
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
Littlefeather appeared in several films throughout the 1970s, playing Native American characters, including ‘The Counselor’, ‘San Francisco Naked City’, ‘Odd Couple of Cops’, ‘Fire Cloud’, ‘ The winterhawk’ and ‘Hunt in the sun’. However, she was mostly known for her work as a civil rights activist for indigenous peoples in the United States, where she belonged to the group Indians of All Tribes. Among other things, Ella Littlefeather participated in the occupation of Alcatraz Island by activists in 1969. She later appeared in several documentaries on Native American themes and in 2007 he gave his testimony in the documentary TV movie ‘Brando’, about the figure of the legendary actor from ‘The Godfather’.
Recently, Littlefeather broke her silence about what happened after the famous Oscar speech in the documentary short film ‘Sacheen: Breaking The Silence’, where the activist revealed that, after what happened at the ceremony, Hollywood included her on its blacklist and did not work as an actress again. “It was the first time anyone had given a political speech at the Oscars”Littlefeather recalls in the documentary (via dead line). “It was the first Oscar ceremony to be broadcast via satellite to the entire world, which is why Marlon chose it for it. I didn’t have a formal suit, so Marlon told me to wear my buckskin”. In the documentary, Littlefeather also claims that John Wayne was behind the scenes, “wanting to get on stage to get me out of there”.
In August 2022, the Academy released a statement to officially apologize to her and acknowledged the impact she had on the history of the film industry. She took it with humor: “We Indians are very patient people. It’s only been 50 years!”. In September, Littlefeather was invited to read the full speech by Brando, which was 15 pages long and was once rejected by the ceremony’s producer, who threatened to call the police if he spoke for more than a minute during his speech at the gala.