Dead Little Feather turned down the Oscar awarded to Marlon

Dead Little Feather turned down the Oscar awarded to Marlon Brando

Goodbye little feather. The Native American, famous for taking the stage in place of Marlon Brando on Oscar night in 1973 to turn down the Oscar the actor won for The Godfather, died of breast cancer at the age of 75. Sacheen Littlefather, aka Marie Louise Cruz, as Roger Moore and Liv Ullman read Brando’s name as the winner took the stage at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in a long dress and red Native American hairdo, he turned down the Oscar, which was stretched out of Moore’s hands and then read a speech that was shortened to one minute at the behest of the show’s producer, Howard Koch. “I’m Apache,” declared the girl from the stage, immediately making it clear that she should have read a lengthy speech prepared by Brando about how Hollywood and US television portrayed Indians negatively in films. “Brando is forced to turn down this lavish award for the treatment the film industry accorded to the portrayal of Native Americans, as well as the recent events of Wounded Knee (the sensational Indian protest of the winter of ’73 that took place at the sites of the Indian massacre of 1890 ed),” Little Feather explained between several whistles and some applause. Later, the girl was able to read the speech at the press conference. Speech published in full by The New York Times.

Even Brando himself, absentee author of the sensational rejection gesture, underscored the reasons for that rejection a few months later, when he appeared with three Native Americans on The Dick Cavett Show. Cruz met Brando in San Francisco through Francis Ford Coppola. “It was my rehearsal time at the Academy Awards,” the girl explained to Variety. “I overcame the fear by promising Brando I wouldn’t touch that Oscar but then I touched him as I left the stage, in the manner with the honor and dignity of my ancestors (…) I left the room, escorted by a couple of armed guards, holding my head high. I was proud to have been the first native woman in the history of the academy to make this political statement. At this time in 1973, the media spotlight on the Wounded Knee events was not turned on, and most importantly, there was a lot of ostracism towards the Native American movement that occupied that area. Cruz also explained that after that speech came as a Hollywood blacklist and she couldn’t get more than a few bits in small films, having also been a popular Playboy playmate. A documentary about her life and activism, Sacheen breaking the silence, was made in 2021 and it was not until the summer of 2022 that the Academy formally apologized to her for the treatment that evening. “The abuse you suffered was unjustified,” he wrote David Rubin, past president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in a letter to Littlefeather published in June 2022. Rubin said the speech at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973 “continues to remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity.” a relationship with Brando that never materialized.Just a few months ago, the Academy apologized.

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