Sacheen Littlefeather, the Native American actress who took the Oscars stage in 1973 to decline Marlon Brando’s award, died Sunday, the Academy of Motion Pictures said. She was 75.
“Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American civil rights activist who famously declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Best Actor Academy Award, dies at 75,” read the tweet.
In 1973, Littlefeather got up on stage to decline Brando’s win for The Godfather where she said the following: “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.”
Earlier this year, a documentary titled Sacheen: Breaking The Silence had Littlefeather revealing she was “blacklisted” by Hollywood following the political stunt.
“It was the first time anyone had made a political statement at the Oscars,” Littlefeather says in the documentary. “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 also noted that John Wayne “was in the wings and wanted to storm onto the stage and drag me off.”
In August of this year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a “statement of reconciliation” where they formally apologized to Littlefeather.
The actor issued a statement following the apology that read, “Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people—it’s only been 50 years! We need to keep our sense of humor about this at all times. It’s our method of survival,” said Littlefeather in today’s press release.”
Littlefeather’s acting credits include Shoot the Sun Down (1978), Winterhawk (1975), Johnny Firecloud (1975), Freebie and the Bean (1974), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974), The Laughing Policeman (1973) and Counselor at Crime (1973).