Sacheen Littlefeather receives formal apology for mistreatment at 1973 Oscars

The Academy of Movement Image Arts and Sciences has formally apologized to Sacheen Littlefeather for her mistreatment on the 1973 Academy Awards, the place the Native American actress and civil rights activist was booed and ridiculed as she declined the Greatest Actor award on Marlon Brando’s behalf.

“The abuse you endured due to this assertion was unwarranted and unjustified,” Academy President David Rubin wrote in a “assertion of reconciliation” despatched to Littefeather in June, and posted on the Academy’s web site Monday. “The emotional burden you may have lived via and the fee to your individual profession in our trade are irreparable. For too lengthy the braveness you confirmed has been unacknowledged. For this, we provide each our deepest apologies and our honest admiration.”

The Academy additionally acknowledged the toll the expertise has taken on Littlefeather in her private {and professional} life.

“Because of this, Sacheen was professionally boycotted, personally harassed and attacked, and discriminated in opposition to for the final fifty years,” Rubin wrote.

Brando had been nominated for the award for his efficiency in “The Godfather,” and was broadly anticipated to win. In a strictly timed 60-second speech on the forty fifth Academy Awards, which she attended at Brando’s request, Littlefeather acknowledged that the actor “very regretfully can’t settle for this very beneficiant award, and the explanations for this being are the therapy of American Indians right now by the movie trade … and on tv, in film reruns, and in addition with current happenings at Wounded Knee.” 

Marlon Brando’s Oscar® win for “The Godfather” by
Oscars on

Viewers members may very well be heard booing throughout her speech, and Littlefeather maintains she was even bodily threatened by outstanding Western film actor John Wayne. 

In a 2021 interview with The Guardian, Littlefeather, now 75, stated, “Throughout my presentation, [Wayne] was coming in direction of me to forcibly take me off the stage, and he needed to be restrained by six safety males to stop him from doing so.” Littlefeather additionally informed The Guardian that folks had been imitating stereotypical struggle cries and making offensive hand gestures when she arrived backstage.

Along with the abuse she suffered that evening, Littlefeather’s standing as a Native American was referred to as into query as properly, as vicious rumors circulated about her id for years.

In line with The Hollywood Reporter, Academy Museum director and president Jacqueline Stewart visited Littlefeather’s residence in June, the place she learn the letter aloud, introduced Littlefeather with a framed copy of the apology, and recorded a video with Littlefeather for an upcoming occasion on the museum. In line with The Hollywood Reporter, after listening to the apology, Littlefeather stated, “I by no means stood up onstage in 1973 for any sort of accolades. I solely stood there as a result of my ancestors had been with me, and I spoke the reality.”

“I by no means thought I would stay to see the day I might be listening to this,” she added. “… After I was on the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

Sacheen Littlefeather Speaking at the 45th Academy Awards
Sacheen Littlefeather speaks on the 1973 Academy Awards. 

Bettmann / Getty Pictures

Regardless of the a long time it took to obtain the apology, Littlefeather dealt with the scenario with levity. “Concerning the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very affected person folks — it is solely been 50 years,” she stated, in keeping with the Academy’s assertion.

“We have to maintain our humorousness about this always,” Littlefeather added. “It is our methodology of survival.” 

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Beneath Part 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “truthful use” for functions resembling criticism, remark, information reporting, educating, scholarship, and analysis. Honest use is a use permitted by copyright statute which may in any other case be infringing.”

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