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Activist who rejected Oscar on behalf of Godfather star Marlon Brando dies

Activist who rejected Oscar on behalf of Godfather star Marlon Brando dies

Sacheen Littlefeather was booed as she rejected the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando

The activist who rejected an Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando has died.

In 1973, Brando was awarded the Best Actor Oscar for his performance in The Godfather, and asked Native American Sacheen Littlefeather to go in his place and reject it.

The actor was disgusted at how Littlefeather's people were portrayed in cinema, and refused to accept the award.

In a statement to Twitter, the Academy of Motion Pictures, confirmed the sad news that Littlefeather had died at the age of 75.

It read: "Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who famously declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Academy Award, dies at 75."

Since the news was announced, people have taken to social media to share messages of condolence, praising Littlefeather for her bravery.

One user said: "Rest in Power Sacheen Littlefeather, you're a brave indigenous tribal lady.

"A moment which took Academy Awards many years to apologise what transpired on that stage that day. Thank you for standing up and staying strong."

While another wrote: "To the undeniable world changer. How lucky are we to have someone with such a sweet spirit and warm smile have the strength to take on a world that thought they were better than you, better than all of us. Rest peacefully and thank you for your guidance."

Littlefeather caused controversy with her appearance at the 45th Oscars ceremony.

Sacheen Littlefeather rejected the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando.
ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

While most stars wait their whole lives for the moment, writing out lengthy speeches, where they thank their mum and dad, wife or husband, and everyone in between for the recognition, Brando went a different route.

Instead, he asked Littlefeather to stand up for him and formally reject the gong.

Speaking at the event, Littlefeather 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."

She was quickly removed from the stage as boos rang around the theatre.

She was removed from the stage and booed in 1973.
Everett Collection Inc/Alamy Stock Photo

In fact, actor John Wayne was reportedly so upset by Littlefeather’s speech that he had to be ‘restrained’ by security staff. 

She revealed in a recent interview with Variety: "I heard a disturbance from behind me as I was speaking up at the podium. I found out that he [Wayne] had been restrained by six security men from assaulting me while I was on that stage. That was the most violent moment that had ever taken place at the Academy Awards."

Earlier this year, the Academy Awards issued an apology to Littlefeather and held a special event – titled An Evening With Sacheen Littlefeather – which was described as ‘very special program of conversation, reflection, healing and celebration’ where she formally accepted the apology. 

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Featured Image Credit: ZUMA Press, Inc./Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: Entertainment, Oscars, US News, Film and TV