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When Marlon Brando asked Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse his Oscar, 1973


Littlefeather represented Marlon Brando at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, where he declined the Best Actor award won by Brando for his performance in The Godfather.

The favorite to win, Brando boycotted the ceremony to protest Hollywood's portrayal of Native Americans and to draw attention to the standoff on a wounded knee. During his speech, audience reaction to the boycott of Brando was divided between boos and applause.

Marie Louise Cruz was born in 1946 to a white mother and father of Apache, Yankee, and Pueblo descent. After high school, he took the name Sachin Littlefeather to reflect his Native American heritage.

During the capture of Alcatraz in 1969, she joined the Native American activist community. The 19-month-long Alcatraz protest garnered widespread sympathy and was visited and supported by celebrities including Marlon Brando.


Littlefeathers joined the audience minutes before the Best Actor award was announced. He was accompanied by Brando's secretary Alice Marchak and wore an Apache buckskin dress.

Producer Howard W. Coach, she would later say, said "you can't read all that" in reference to the 739-word speech written by Brando, so he abbreviated it to 60 seconds.

In other retellings of that night, Littlefeather said that the coach told him he had 60 seconds to deliver the speech or else he would be kicked off the stage and arrested.

The Best Actor award was presented by Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann and British actor Roger Moore. After giving brief remarks and announcing five candidates, he declared Brando the winner.

Littlefeather went on stage and Moore raised his hand to decline the Oscar trophy offered to him. Distracted by the prepared speech, he said the following:


Moore took Littlefeather off the stage, criticized by many, and toward the press. Littlefeather said in 2022 that some people under his leadership had used tomahawk chops.

Oscar producer Koch and director Marty Passetta both later recalled that John Wayne was waiting in the wings and had to be stopped by six security guards to prevent him from leaving the stage.

At the press conference, Littlefeather read to reporters a speech that Brando had prepared; The New York Times published the full text the next day.

The audience applauded and applauded at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. Brando and Littlefeather's opposition to the awards ceremony was generally considered inappropriate.

Brando later told Dick Cavett, "I was incensed that people should have booed and whistled, even if it was directed at themselves." "He should have at least had the courtesy to listen to him."

His appearance prompted the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to rescind future proxy acceptance of the Academy Awards.


After giving the speech, Littlefeather spent two days in Los Angeles before returning to San Francisco. She later claimed that she went to Marlon Brando's house after the Academy Awards and that while they were talking, shots were fired at his front door.

According to Ann Brebner of the Brebner Agency, which handled Littlefeather's modeling bookings, she was flooded with mail and phone calls after her Oscar appearance, which led to radio and television appearances as well as reading for several film roles. got the opportunity.

In the years immediately following the protest, Littlefeather said it had "little impact during the course of her career." However, later, Littlefeather claimed that he had been blacklisted by the Hollywood community and had received threats.


In June 2022, the Academy sent a statement of apology to Littlefeather, in which David Rubin, then-president of the organization, wrote: "The abuse you suffered because of this statement was unjustified and unjustified. The cost to your own career is irreparable. The courage you have shown over such a long period of time is unacceptable. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere appreciation."

Regarding the Academy's apology, he described it as "a dream come true" and added that "we Indians are very patient people - it's only been 50 years!" "We need to maintain our sense of humor about this at all times. It's our way of survival," he said.

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