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Sacheen Littlefeather Dead: Actress Who Delivered Marlon Brando’s Oscar Rejection Speech Dies At 75

The Native American activist, Sacheen Littlefeather, who was overly popular for declining Marlon Brando’s Oscar for “Godfather” on his behalf, died at 75 after suffering from breast cancer.

As per the statement given by Sacheen Littlefeatgher’s caretaker, she died by Sunday noon, in the presence of her loved ones at her home in the Northern California City of Novato. 

Sacheen Littlefeather Dead

The Academy Motion Pictures revealed the sudden death of the legendary Sacheen Lttlefeather on Sunday night, less than two months after the Academy apologized for her treatment at the 1973 Academy Awards. Over the poor treatment offered by the Academy that year, they presented a heartfelt apology, which Littlefeather attended at the Academy Museum on September 17.

“As you stood at the Oscar stage back in 1973 to decline the award on behalf of Marlon Brando, in a credit of the mistreatment and misinterpretation of Native American people by the film industry, you made a statement that will continue to remind us of the importance of human dignity and the necessity of respect.”

The letter further continued,” The abuse you endured because of this powerful statement was unjustified. The emotional burden you carried throughout at the cost of your own career in the industry cannot be replaced. For too long, your courage was unacknowledged for which we deeply offer our admiration and sincere apologies.”

Brando, who was protesting in the harmony of Native American rights, did not attend the ceremony, leading the path to brave Sacheen Littlefeather to give a 60-second speech on Native American rights, ultimately denying the Oscar honor on behalf of Brando. Right after creating history, Sacheen Littlefeather was escorted off the stage, when the entire audience began booing at her. 

“He very respectfully cannot receive the generous honor,” she said citing the reasons as “the treatment of American Indians by the film industry, on television and also the happenings at Wounded Knee.”

Soon after she began with that line, Littlefeather was interrupted by Clint Eastwood, Raquel Welch, and Oscar co-host Michael Caine. The trio went to criticize Littlefeather live for interrupting the prestigious ceremony. 

However, Sacheen Littlefeather was allowed to read the full speech she prepared at a press conference later and that was even featured in the New York Times. 

In a very recent interview, Littlefeather was asked about her experience on the Academy Award stage back in 1973, nearly fifty years ago.

“It was my first time at the Academy Awards, promising Marlon Brando that I would never touch his Oscar. But as I was escorted off the stage, I did in the ways of honor, courage, truthfulness, and dignity. “

While she walked off she met “stereotypical tomahawk chop, and I ignored them.” Holding her head high, she walked in pride, to be the first indigenous woman to make a political statement in the history of the Academy Awards. 

Littlefeather further added, “ At that time, there was a media blackout on Wounded Knee also, against the American Indians. Brando had previously informed them to watch the Academy Awards, which they eventually did. They saw me on stage, refusing the Oscar for the stereotypes within the industry and they saw me talk about Wounded Knee in South Dakota, which would break the boycott.”

Interestingly, Littlefeather lately had a couple of words regarding death where she mentioned, “When we die, we know we are going back to the spirit world where we came from and that our ancestors will come to give. We must consider it in pride and not as our defeat, looking forward to joining them who will be there while we take our last breath and they’re going to take us into their world with a big celebration for us.”

In 2021, a documentary about Sacheen Littlefeather’s life and activism, “Sacheen Breaking the Silence”, was released. Although she had minor roles in a few selective films, she was blacklisted in Hollywood, due to which she returned to San Francisco to do more in her activism and ended up also serving in theatre and health care. She was more into activism as a college student as Littlefatgher was often spotted participating in the occupation of Alcatraz Island, eventually giving her the name. 

It was after college that Littlefeather joined SAG and met Marlon Brando who was also interested in Native American issues. Ever since, the duo has only made the nation proud, although it took a while for acceptance. 

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