HomeEntertainmentSacheen Littlefeather, Activist Who Rejected Brando’s Oscar, Dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather, Activist Who Rejected Brando’s Oscar, Dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather, the Apache activist and actress who refused to just accept the very best actor award on behalf of Marlon Brando on the 1973 Oscars, drawing jeers onstage in an act that pierced by the facade of the awards present and highlighted her criticism of Hollywood for its depictions of Native Individuals, has died. She was 75.

Her loss of life was announced on Sunday by the Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences. The reason for loss of life was not instantly identified.

Her loss of life got here simply weeks after the Academy apologized to Ms. Littlefeather for her remedy through the Oscars. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter in August, Ms. Littlefeather mentioned she was “shocked” by the apology. “I by no means thought I’d reside to see the day I’d be listening to this, experiencing this,” she mentioned.

When Ms. Littlefeather, then 26, held up her proper hand that night time contained in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles — clearly signaling to the award presenters, the viewers and the hundreds of thousands watching on TV that she had no need to ceremoniously settle for the shiny golden statue — it marked one of many best-known disruptive moments within the historical past of the Oscars.

“I encourage presently that I’ve not intruded upon this night, and that we’ll, sooner or later, our hearts and our understandings, will meet with love and generosity,” Ms. Littlefeather mentioned on the podium, having endured a refrain of boos and a few cheers from the group.

Donning a glimmering buckskin costume, moccasins and hair ties, her look on the forty fifth Academy Awards, on the age of 26, was the primary time a Native American girl had stood onstage on the ceremony. However the backlash and criticism was fast: The actor John Wayne was so unsettled {that a} present producer, Marty Pasetta, mentioned safety guards needed to restrain him in order that he wouldn’t storm the stage.

She advised The Hollywood Reporter in August: “After I was on the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

Ms. Littlefeather, whose title at delivery was Marie Cruz, was born on Nov. 14, 1946, in Salinas, Calif., to a father from the White Mountain Apache and Yaqui tribes in Arizona and a French-German-Dutch mom, in response to her web site. After highschool, she took the title Sacheen Littlefeather to “mirror her pure heritage,” the positioning states.

Her web site mentioned she participated within the Native American occupation of Alcatraz Island, which started in 1969 in an act of defiance towards a authorities that they mentioned had lengthy trampled on their rights.

Her appearing profession started on the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco within the early Nineteen Seventies. She would go on to play roles in movies like “The Trial of Billy Jack” and “Winterhawk.”

Ms. Littlefeather mentioned in an interview with the Academy that she had been planning to look at the awards on tv when she obtained a name the night time earlier than the ceremony from Mr. Brando, who had been nominated for his efficiency as Vito Corleone in “The Godfather.”

The 2 had grow to be mates by her neighbor, the director Francis Ford Coppola. Mr. Brando requested her to refuse the award on his behalf if he received and gave her a speech to learn simply in case.

With solely about quarter-hour left in this system, Ms. Littlefeather arrived on the ceremony with little details about how the night time would work.

A producer for the Oscars observed the pages in Ms. Littlefeather’s hand and advised her that she can be arrested if her feedback lasted greater than 60 seconds.

Then, Mr. Brando received.

Within the speech, Ms. Littlefeather additionally introduced consideration to the federal authorities’s standoff with Native Individuals at Wounded Knee.

She later recalled that whereas she was giving the speech, she had “centered in on the mouths and the jaws that have been dropping open within the viewers, and there have been fairly just a few.”

The viewers, she recalled, seemed like a “sea of Clorox” as a result of there have been “only a few folks of coloration.”

She mentioned some viewers members did the so-called “tomahawk chop” at her and that when she went to Mr. Brando’s home later, folks shot on the doorway the place she was standing.

Final month, Ms. Littlefeather spoke at a program hosted by the Academy referred to as “An Night with Sacheen Littlefeather,” recalling how she had stood up for justice within the arts.

“I didn’t characterize myself,” she mentioned. “I used to be representing all Indigenous voices on the market, all Indigenous folks, as a result of we had by no means been heard in that manner earlier than.”

And when she spoke these phrases, the viewers erupted in applause.

“I needed to pay the value of admission, and that was OK,” she mentioned. “As a result of these doorways needed to be open.”

After studying that the Academy would formally apologize to her, Ms. Littlefeather mentioned it felt “like an enormous cleanse.”

“It feels just like the sacred circle is finishing itself,” she mentioned, “earlier than I’m going on this life.”

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