Sacheen Littlefeather has passed away at age 75

Cheryl E Preston
Sacheen LittlefeatherTwitter screenshot

Native American activist touched lives

Sacheen Littlefeather, came into prominence when she gave the Oscar rejection speech for Marlon Brando in 1973. The Academy of Motion Pictures announced Sunday night on their Twitter Account that the 75-year-old Native American has died. She was born Marie Louise Cruz on Nov. 14, 1946, in Salinas, Calif., and later changed her name in her 20s when she became an activist began exploring her Native American heritage and became an activist.

Littlefeather was responsible for one of the most dramatic moments in Oscar history. when she went on stage on March 27, 1973. When Marlon Brando's name was read for winning best actor for his role as Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, Sacheen went stage wearing a buckskin dress and mocassins and very politely offered Brando's regrets for refusing the award because of Hollywood's portrayal and treatment of Native Americans.

The speech declining the Oscar on behalf of Brando was met by a combination of cheers and Littlefeather said she actually saw actor John Wayne having to be restrained because in his anger he was trying to rush the stage while she was on. The Los Angeles Times was one of the first to report this incident.
Sacheen Littlefeather Oscars speechEntertainment Weekly screenshot

The speech exposed Hollywood

In 2020 Littlefeather said the following about Hollywood's view of Native Americans during an interview with member station KQED "People were making money off of that racism of the Hollywood Indian. Of course, they're going to boo. They don't want their evening interrupted."

The Activist said she was escorted off the stage at the Oscars by a team of security guards. She added that for years Hollywood boycotted her, and she called it being red-listed. In August 2022 the Academy apologized to Sacheen Littlefeather and it's a blessing she lived long enough to see things beginning to come full circle.

The Los Angeles Times reported in 1973 that Marlon Brando had this to say about the event: "I was distressed that people should have booed and whistled and stomped, even though perhaps it was directed at myself," he told then-talk show host Dick Cavett. "They should have at least had the courtesy to listen to her."

Comments / 2

Published by

I write, about breaking news, and current events. I wrote a newspaper column from 1997 to 2007 and have written for various online platforms since 2012 including Yahoo Contributor Network, Hubpages, and Vocal Media.

Roanoke, VA

More from Cheryl E Preston

Comments / 0