Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American civil rights activist best known for turning down Marlon Brando’s best actor Oscar for “The Godfather” in 1973, has died at the age of 75, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced. his family on Sunday night.
She died peacefully at her home in Marin County, California, surrounded by loved ones, the academy said. She suffered from breast cancer, her family said.
In a tweet announcing her death, the academy quoted her as saying, “When I am gone, always remember that as long as you stand up for the truth, you will keep my voice and the voices of our nations and people alive.” she is still Sacheen Littlefeather. Thank you”.
At the Academy Awards ceremony in October 1973, Littlefeather, in a buckskin dress and loafers, became the first Native American woman to take the stage at the Oscars.
In a strictly timed 60-second speech, he said that Brando could not accept the award.
His family said Sunday that Littlefeather turned down the Oscar on Brando’s behalf in an effort to “bust stereotypes of Native Americans in the film, television and sports industries.”
“As a result, Sacheen was professionally boycotted, personally harassed and attacked, and discriminated against for nearly 50 years,” the statement continues.
She was booed by some in the Oscar audience. John Wayne, who was backstage, was reportedly furious.
And in a 2021 interview with The GuardianLittlefeather said: “During my presentation, [Wayne] was coming towards me to force me off the stage, and had to be held down by six security men to prevent him from doing so.”
He also told The Guardian that people were imitating stereotypical battle cries and making offensive hand gestures when he arrived backstage.
The academy said Sunday that “his presence onstage at the Academy Awards, widely recognized as the first political speech at the Oscars, also drew attention to AIM.” [American Indian Movement]” at the time.
In June, theby Hollywood in a letter from then Academy President David Rubin.
“The abuse he endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unwarranted,” Rubin wrote. “The emotional toll he has endured and the cost to his own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage he displayed has gone unrecognized. For this, we offer him our deepest apologies and sincere admiration.”
Littlefeather said in a statement that it was “deeply heartening to see how much has changed since I didn’t accept the Academy Award 50 years ago.”
In September, what the family described as an “honorable tribute” was held at the Academy Museum’s David Geffen Theater in Los Angeles “with a sold-out audience in attendance.”
“Although many people judged Sacheen and treated her in a negative way, she forgave them all, did not hold a grudge and moved on with her life in a positive way, showing everyone love and forgiveness,” the family said.
According to the family, Littlefeather was a model and actress known for her roles in “Billy Jack” in 1974, “Winterhawk” the following year, “Reel Injun” in 2010 and “Sacheen: Breaking The Silence” in 2018.
A requiem mass for Littlefeather is scheduled for later this month at St. Rita Church in Fairfax, California.