Sacheen Littlefeather: Activist mocked by Hollywood as she declined Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather: Activist mocked by Hollywood as she declined Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf dies at 75
(Photo by Michael Ochs Archvies/Getty Images)

NOVATO, NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Native American actress, Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather died at the age of 75 in her home on Sunday, October 2. The actress and model who was famously known for declining an Oscar on Marlon Brando's behalf in 1973, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer which recently metastasized.

ADVERTISEMENT

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences broke the news of her death on Twitter on Sunday. "Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who famously declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Academy Award, dies at 75," the Academy tweeted. Included in the tweet was a photo of the actress and one of her quotes.

ADVERTISEMENT

READ MORE

Breast Cancer Awareness Month: What are different stages of the disease? A look at available treatment options

Oscars 2022: Denis Villeneuve's ‘Dune’ wins Best Cinematography among 5 other awards

ADVERTISEMENT



 

"When I am gone, always be reminded that whenever you stand for your truth, you will be keeping my voice and the voices of our nations and people alive," the quote read. "I remain Sacheen Littlefeather. Thank You." The actress, born Marie Louise Cruz on November 14, 1946, faced immense backlash and suffered grievously in her career for her political statement at the Oscars and declining the Best Actor Academy Award for Marlon Brando for 'The Godfather'.

ADVERTISEMENT

March 27 - LOS ANGELES: Sacheen Littlefeather (Native American actress Maria Cruz) holds a written statement from actor Marlon Brando refusing his Best Actor Oscar on stage at the Academy Awards on March 27, 1973 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Ochs Archvies/Getty Images)
Sacheen Littlefeather (Native American actress Maria Cruz) holds a written statement from actor Marlon Brando refusing his Best Actor Oscar on stage at the Academy Awards on March 27, 1973, in Los Angeles, California (Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

She said, "He 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." "And on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee," according to Deadline. In a recent documentary called Sacheen, Littlefeather broke her silence and revealed she was "blacklisted" for what she said at the awards show. 

ADVERTISEMENT



 

Littlefeather explains, "It was the first time anyone had made a political statement at the Oscars. It was the first Oscars ceremony to be broadcast by satellite all over the world, which is why Marlon chose it. I didn’t have an evening dress so Marlon told me to wear my buckskin," she said. Nearly after 50 years of Littlefeather's protest at the Oscars, the then-AMPAS president David Rubin apologized in a letter on June 18, 2022. The letter read, "The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified."

ADVERTISEMENT

A.I.M. activist Sacheen Littlefeather arrives to the Screen Actors Guild President's National Task Force for American Indians & NBC Universal Premiere Screening of
A.I.M. activist Sacheen Littlefeather arrives at the Screen Actors Guild President's National Task Force for American Indians & NBC Universal Premiere Screening of "Reel Indian" and American Indian Actors at LA Skins Fest at Museum Of Tolerance on November 20, 2010, in Los Angeles, California (Beck Starr/FilmMagic)

"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,” David Rubin concluded. In response to the letter, Littlefeather told The Hollywood Reporter, she never thought she'd live to see the day. "I was stunned. I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this," she stated. "When I was at the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”
 
Littlefeather's fans immediately took to Twitter to express their grief at her death. One Twitter user wrote, "I'm so glad she lived long enough for the academy to apologize (way past when they should've). "What a great life. Rest in power," a fan tweeted. Whilst another fan tweeted, " If anyone is unfamiliar with Sacheen Littlefeather, I would highly recommend reading up on her and the really essential part she played in spreading awareness of the action of the American Indian Movement." Another fan chimed in the activist immense contribution to the world and wrote, "Sacheen Littlefeather has passed away. While people remember her for her acceptance speech on behalf of Marlon Brando, Know that she also ended the media blackout of the Wounded Knee occupation, won an Emmy & co-founded the American Indian AIDS Institute of San Francisco. RIP"

ADVERTISEMENT



 


ADVERTISEMENT


 



 

ADVERTISEMENT

Share this article: Sacheen Littlefeather: Activist mocked by Hollywood as she declined Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf dies at 75