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Sacheen Littlefeather says she was blacklisted by Hollywood after her 1973 Oscars speech in new documentary

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Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather, best known for rejecting Marlon Brando’s Best Actor award for The Godfather at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, says the Oscars speech ended her career in Hollywood.A new documentary, Sacheen: Breaking The…

Native American actress Sacheen Littlefeather, best known for rejecting Marlon Brando's Best Actor award for The Godfather at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, says the Oscars speech ended her career in Hollywood.

A new documentary, Sacheen: Breaking The Silence, uncovers the details behind the famous political protest, where Brando sent Littlefeather onstage to reject the Oscar on his behalf in objection to the depiction of Native Americans by the film industry.

The now 74-year-old Littlefeather, who is a White Mountain Apache actress and activist, said that while her performance delighted Brando, she felt abandoned by the Apocalypse Now actor in the public fallout that followed.

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Sacheen Littlefeather, Oscars 1973

As a result of the criticism, Littlefeather says she was "blacklisted" by Hollywood from her career, which at the time included minor appearances in small films and television shows, and never worked again.

"It was the first time anyone had made a political statement at the Oscars," Littlefeather, whose birthname is Marie Louise Cruz, says in the documentary.

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"It was the first Oscars ceremony to be broadcast by satellite all over the world, which is why Marlon chose it. I didn't have an evening dress so Marlon told me to wear my buckskin."

Buckskins are clothing made from soft suede leather from deer hide. While appropriated to become a brief fad in the 1970s, they were originally worn by Native Americans due to their functionality — often trimmed with fringe, the garment can shed rain and dry fast when wet. They also serve as camouflage.

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Sacheen Littlefeather

Littlefeather said that when she came on stage, she could "hear the boos and jeers."

"I later learned six security guards had to hold back John Wayne, who was in the wings and wanted to storm on to the stage and drag me off," the actress claims.

Littlefeather went to Brando's house after the ceremony, where "he told me I'd done a great job," she says.

Although Brando complimented her, Littlefeather said the ensuing fallout from the public made his praise bittersweet.

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Sacheen Littlefeather

"I was blacklisted – or, you could say, 'redlisted'. I was ostracised everywhere I turned. No one would listen to my story or give me a chance to work," Littlefeather said, who at the time was around 27-years-old.

Littlefeather has previously said she had 60 seconds to deliver her speech or be removed from the stage, and her original speech was a four-page address written by Brando, though she deviated from the prepared text.

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Sacheen Littlefeather

"Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather," she began at the ceremony.

"I'm Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. I'm representing Marlon Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently, because of time, but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award.

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"And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry – excuse me [boos and cheers] – and on television in movie re-runs, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee.

"I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening, and that we will in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity. Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando," she concluded to applause.

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Sacheen Littlefeather

It is said James Bond star Roger Moore helped Littlefeather after her speech by safely escorting her past critics backstage to the press, where she read the full speech.

At the ceremony after Littlefeather's address, Raquel Welch said "I hope the winner doesn't have a cause" when presenting Best Actress.

Clint Eastwood, when presenting Best Picture, said he was presenting it "on behalf of all the cowboys shot in John Ford westerns over the years."

Co-host Michael Caine criticised Brando for "Letting some poor little Indian girl take the boos" instead of "standing up and doing it himself".

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Source: Entertainment News, TV and Celebrity Gossip - 9Celebrity

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