Entertainment

Sacheen Littlefeather, activist who turned down Marlon Brando’s Oscar, dies at 75


Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American civil rights activist and famous actress who turned down Marlon Brando’s Oscar on his behalf in 1973, has died aged 75.

Littlefeather had breast cancer, Diversity reports.

As an actress, Littlefeather has had roles in films including Police laugh and Shoot the sun downbut was thrown into the limelight on her night represented Brando at the 45th Academy Awards and denied his win because Godfather.

READ MORE: Sacheen Littlefeather receives an apology from the Academy after his 1973 Oscars speech

Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather, pictured in 2010, has died aged 75. (FilmMagic)

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Littlefeather was 26 years old the night she stepped onto the Oscars stage to turn down offers from Liv Ullmann and Roger Moore.

She walked onto the stage holding a letter written by Brando herself, and was immediately booed by the audience.

“He regrets not being able to accept this very generous award,” Littlefeather said on stage.

Sacheen Littlefeather, Academy Award 1973
The actress turned down Marlon Brando’s Oscar for Best Actor on his behalf at the 1973 ceremony. (Bettmann Archives)

“And the reason for this is because of the film industry’s treatment of American Indians today … and on television in reruns, and also with recent developments at Wound Knee.”

Injured Knee refers to a protest held in 1973 in response to the historic Wounded Knee Massacre, which saw nearly three hundred Lakota people killed by US soldiers.

Lakota is a Native American living in North and South Dakota, United States.

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Sacheen Littlefeather
Apache activist Sacheen Littlefeather speaks to the press after turning down an Academy Award on behalf of Best Actor winner Marlon Brando. (Bettmann Archive)

Following this action, Littlefeather was confronted with racist gestures and threats of violence.

She has said controversial things before Oscar The speech, the first political statement ever made at the coveted event, effectively ended her Hollywood career.

At the time, Littlefeather was the chair of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee.

Just this year, she finally received an apology from the Academy for the treatment she received 50 years ago on stage, and was subsequently blacklisted by Hollywood.

Sacheen Littlefeather
Sacheen Littlefeather at a San Francisco rally in 1990. (LIFE BY G Image Collection)

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The apology took place in June, and Littlefeather attended the apology presentation in person at the Academy Museum on September 17. She walked onto the event stage to a minute-long applause.

“Well, I succeeded – after 50 years. You know what we Indians are like, we are very patient people,” she quipped that night.

The event lasted for nearly two hours, and was attended by more than 820 people who identified as Native American or Aboriginal people.

Heartland actor Robert Cormier has died aged 33.

Heartland actor Robert Cormier dies aged 33

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