Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather for 1973 Marlon Brando controversy

(The Hill) – Oscars organizers apologize to Sacheen Littlefeather nearly 50 years after she shared the stage with Marlon Brando and vow to focus on inclusivity.

In a “Reconciliation Statement” released Monday by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in June, President David Rubin confirmed to Littlefeather that his note was “a long time coming since the 45th Annual Academy Awards in 1973.”

That year, The Godfather star Brando turned down his Oscar for the film and had Littlefeather represent him at the ceremony.

Littlefeather said Brando’s reasons for declining the honor were “the treatment of Native Americans by the film industry and on television today, in film reruns and also in the recent events at Wounded Knee.”

FILE – Sacheen Littlefeather arrives at the Academy Awards to announce that Marlon Brando has turned down his Best Actor Oscar for his role in ‘The Godfather’ on March 27, 1973. The move was intended to protest Hollywood’s treatment of Native Americans. (AP photo, file)

In his letter, Rubin called Littlefeather’s words a “powerful statement” and wrote that they continue to “remind us of the need for respect and the importance of human dignity.”

“The abuse you suffered because of that statement was unjustified and unjustified. The emotional drain you have endured and the cost of your own career in our industry is beyond repair. For too long the courage you have shown has not been recognised. For this we offer our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration,” said the President of the Academy.

“We cannot achieve the Academy’s mission of ‘stimulating imagination and connecting the world through cinema’ without a commitment to enabling the widest possible representation and inclusion that reflects our diverse world population,” the letter reads.

Responding to the Academy’s apology, Littlefeather said in a statement, “We Indians are very patient people – it’s only been 50 years!”

“We always have to keep our sense of humor. It’s our method of survival,” she said.

The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures announced Monday that it will be hosting a free program of “Conversation, Reflection, Healing and Celebration” with Littlefeather on September 17.

The 75-year-old actor and activist called the program at the Los Angeles Museum a “dream come true.”

“It’s deeply encouraging to see how much has changed since I didn’t accept the Oscar 50 years ago,” she said. Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather for 1973 Marlon Brando controversy

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