HomeNewsSacheen Littlefeather, Activist Who Declined Marlon Brando's Oscar Dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather, Activist Who Declined Marlon Brando’s Oscar Dies at 75

Sacheen Littlefeather, Native American activist and Hollywood actress who took over the stage and declined Marlon Brando’s Oscar for The Godfather on his behalf at the 1973 Academy Awards, is no longer with us.

As per the reports, Sacheen Littlefeather passed away at the age of 75 on Sunday. Continue reading further to learn the main reason behind the death of the famous activist and actress.

What was the cause behind the death of Sacheen Littlefeather?

The Academy of Motion Pictures announced the sad news of Sacheen Littlefeather’s death on Sunday night. It has been reported that Sacheen had been suffering from breast cancer. As per the statement put out by her caretaker to The Hollywood Reporter, she passed away at her home in the Northern California city of Novato surrounded by her loved ones.

Earlier this year in June, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences issued an apology to Sacheen Littlefeather for her treatment at the Oscars night in the year 1973. At that time, she was only given 60 seconds to read her speech on Native American rights, and soon afterward, she was escorted off the stage, as the audience members started booing.

At the Academy Awards 1973, Sacheen told the audience members why Marlon Brando didn’t accept his award. Then, she said, “He very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award.”

Littlefeather went on to say, “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.”

The Academy issued an apology to Sacheen Littlefeather nearly 50 years later

Yes, you read that right. The Academy gave an apology to Sacheen almost 50 years after the incident. In a letter dated June 18,  then-AMPAS president David Rubin issued an apology to the Native American civil rights activist.

David wrote, “The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified. The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

Who was Sacheen Littlefeather?

The real name of Sacheen Littlefeather was Marie Louise Cruz. She was a civil rights activist and Hollywood actress who was born on November 14, 1946, in the coastal Northern California city of Salinas, Littlefeather. It has been stated that she was primarily raised by her mom’s parents.

Then, Sacheen began discovering her Native identity at California State University in Hayward and she went on to participate in the Native occupation to reclaim Alcatraz Island in 1969. She was named Sacheen Littlefeather by her fellow activist friends.

Soon afterward, Littlefeather bagged a full scholarship to study acting at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. In a 2010 interaction with The Native American Times, she said, “Dancing and acting was an escape from reality.”

Throughout her career, Sacheen did some work in radio as well as television ads but she struggled to find good roles in Hollywood. In an earlier interaction, she said, “Americans liked the blonde Sandra Dee look … I got speaking parts in Italian films because they liked the exotic.”

We send our deepest condolences to the friends and family of Sacheen Littlefeather during this hard time. May the departed soul rest in peace. Don’t forget to stay tuned with us for the latest updates from the world of showbiz.


Meenal Mehta
Hi, I am Meenal. I'm a travel enthusiast, a movie buff and a cricket fan all wrapped in one. I love to capture moments through my words. Writing is my happy space, it has been a great way of putting all my thoughts out and feel liberated.


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