Sacheen Littlefeather dies at 75 weeks after apology for 1973 Oscars
Sacheen Littlefeather dies at 75: Native American actress and activist passes away just days after she formally accepted apology from Academy for 1973 Oscars protest speech on behalf of Marlon Brando
- The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that Littlefeather died at her home in Novato, California on Sunday, per her caretaker
- Littlefeather appeared on Brando’s behalf at 1973 Academy Awards
- She was booed when she spoke about the depiction of Native Americans in Hollywood films
- Littlefeather has said she’s been mocked, discriminated against and personally attacked over the appearance
- Littlefeather, in her 2018 doc Sacheen: Breaking the Silence, said that she was sabotaged professionally in her show business career in the wake of the Oscars
- In 2018, Littlefeather said that she’d been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer, and it had since metastasized
- The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences apologized to her in June
- Littlefeather formally accepted the apology in person on September 17 in LA
The activist Sacheen Littlefeather has died at the age of 75, weeks after she received an apology from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for the organization’s treatment of her at the 1973 Oscars when she declined an Academy award on Marlon Brando’s behalf.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that Littlefeather died at her home in Novato, California on Sunday, per her caretaker.
The organization had held an event in Littlefeather’s honor two weeks ago for an evening of ‘conversation, healing and celebration.’
Last picture: Activist Sacheen Littlefeather has died at the age of 75, weeks after she received an apology from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for the organization’s treatment of her at the 1973 Oscars when she declined an Academy award on Marlon Brando’s behalf. She is pictured here formally accepting the apology in LA on September 17
When Brando won best actor for The Godfather in 1973, Littlefeather, wearing buckskin dress and moccasins, took the stage, becoming the first Native American woman ever to do so at the Academy Awards.
When she appeared on Brando’s behalf in 1973, Littlefeather, then 26, said she was instructed by Brando not to touch the Oscar statuette; and by show producer Howard Koch to restrict her remarks to 60 seconds, under threat of arrest if she went over time, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Littlefeather said in her speech that ‘[Brando] very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award and the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me – and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.’ (The 1973 Oscars were held during the American Indian Movement’s two-month occupation of Wounded Knee in South Dakota.)
Some in the audience booed her. John Wayne, who was backstage at the time, was reportedly furious. In the years since, Littlefeather has said she’s been mocked, discriminated against and personally attacked for her brief Academy Awards appearance.
When Brando won best actor for The Godfather at the Academy Awards in 1973, Littlefeather took to the stage in his place to refuse the Oscar. She instead read out a letter from Brando in which he explained he turned down the honor in protests of the treatment of Native Americans
Speaking on behalf of Brando (pictured in 1973), Littlefeather said the actor could not accept the award due to ‘the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry’
In making the announcement, the Academy Museum shared a letter sent June 18 to Littlefeather by David Rubin, academy president, about the iconic Oscar moment. Rubin called Littlefeather’s speech ‘a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the necessity of respect and the importance of human dignity.’
‘The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified,’ wrote Rubin. ‘The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable.
‘For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.’
Littlefeather told The Hollywood Reporter she ‘was stunned’ when the Academy reached out to her about making amends.
‘I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this,’ Littlefeather told the outlet. ‘When I was at the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.’
Some in the audience booed Littlefeather, while the late John Wayne, who was backstage at the time, was reportedly furious
Brando had won the award for best actor for his performance in The Godfather
Littlefeather, in her 2018 doc Sacheen: Breaking the Silence, said that she was sabotaged professionally in her show business career in the wake of the Oscars.
‘I was blacklisted – or, you could say, “redlisted,”‘ Littlefeather said. ‘Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett and others didn’t want me on their shows … the doors were closed tight, never to reopen.’
Littlefeather eventually quit show business and got a heath degree with a minor in Native American medicine. She had penned a newspaper column for Oklahoma’s Kiowa tribe, taught in Tucson and had worked alongside the late Mother Teresa at the outset of the AIDS crisis.
Littlefeather, in a statement, said it is ‘profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.
‘Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people – it´s only been 50 years!’ said Littlefeather. ‘We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our method of survival.’
Littlefeather was seen backstage holding Brando’s speech at the 1973 Oscars
She beamed as she attended the event last month at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Littlefeather chat with Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance, at the event
Littlefeather previously asked that donations in her memory be made to the American Indian Child Resource Center of Oakland
At the Academy Museum event in Los Angeles, Littlefeather sat for a conversation with producer Bird Runningwater, co-chair of the Academy’s Indigenous Alliance.
In a podcast earlier this year with Jacqueline Stewart, a film scholar and director of the Academy Museum, Littlefeather reflected on what compelled her to speak out in 1973.
‘I felt that there should be Native people, Black people, Asian people, Chicano people – I felt there should be an inclusion of everyone,’ said Littlefeather. ‘A rainbow of people that should be involved in creating their own image.’
Littlefeather’s husband Charles Koshiway (Otoe/Sac&Fox), who she was with for more than 32 years, died this past November.
A Catholic Requiem Mass is slated to be held at St. Rita Church in Fairfax, California; Littlefeather previously asked that donations in her memory be made to the American Indian Child Resource Center of Oakland.
Source: Read Full Article