Sacheen Littlefeather: Activist mocked by Hollywood as she declined Oscar on Marlon Brando’s behalf dies at 75
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.
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.
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
"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'.
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.
RIP #SacheenLittlefeather. Sacheen Littlefeather was an Indigenous activist who famously rejected the Oscar for Best Actor in 1973on behalf of Marlon Brando in protest against the mistreatment of Indigenous Peoples in Hollywood & to bring attention to the Wounded Knee Occupation. pic.twitter.com/lPpUh2CyPS— Hansraj Meena (@HansrajMeena) October 3, 2022
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."
"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"
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. https://t.co/V4Neox9U5M https://t.co/hfPtKRYpFH— Jonathan David Joseph ⚓️ (@JDJCureton) October 3, 2022
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 👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/1v7Q2XElQe— Ruth H. Robertson (Red Road Woman) (@Ruth_HHopkins) October 3, 2022