Brando’s controversial rejection of the award remains one of the most legendary moments in Oscars history
One of the great aspirations of any actor is to be rewarded with an Oscar, however, there are great celebrities who have had the luxury of rejecting the statuette. One such star is Marlon Brando, who in 1973 caused controversy by refusing to attend the ceremony and snubbing the award.
At the 45th Academy Awards, Brando, nominated in the Best Actor category for his portrayal of Vito Corleone in The Godfather, took center stage and eclipsed all eight awards won by American film Cabaret with his controversial decision.
To express to the Academy his rejection of the mistreatment of Indigenous peoples and the stereotypical image that was projected of it in Hollywood films, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American, to the ceremony which took the stage. to reject the mythical prize. .
“I am an Apache and chair of the National Committee for the Affirmative Image of Native Americans,” she began her speech. “Tonight I come on behalf of Marlon Brando. He has asked me to tell you, in a very long speech which I cannot share with you now for lack of time, but which I will share with the press later, that he unfortunately refuses this generous reward”.
“And it’s because of the mistreatment of American Indians today by the film and television industry. And also because of what happened recently at Wounded Knee. I pray that I was not a nuisance tonight and that in the future we can meet our hearts and minds with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando,” Littlefeather exclaimed that evening to a divided audience where some booed and others applauded the speech.
Brando originally wrote a 4-page speech for Littlefeather to share with the audience; However, the producer of this edition of the Oscars, Howard W. Koch, blocked the native from delivering said speech, arguing that she had a maximum of 60 seconds to speak.
In the aftermath of the controversial decision, The New York Times published the entire speech written by Brando and which Littlefeather read to the press after the ceremony.
“The film community has been as responsible as anyone for demeaning the Indian and mocking his character, portraying him as savage, hostile and evil. It’s hard enough for kids to grow up in this world. “When Indian children watch television and movies, and when they see their race portrayed as they are in movies, their minds are hurt in ways we will never know,” was part of the speech written by the ‘actor.
1973: Native American actor Sacheen Littlefeather is booed (and cheered) by Hollywood at the Oscars before being mocked by Clint Eastwood and nearly physically assaulted by John Wayne simply for asking that Native people not be dehumanized in film.pic.twitter.com/BgOiuBq4hR
— rafael shimunov (@rafaelshimunov)
October 11, 2021
Brando’s controversial rejection remains one of the most iconic moments in awards history.
This year, the 93rd Academy Awards will take place on April 25 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood and at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, as well as in Britain. Follow our coverage here.