Sacheen Littlefeather's Oscars Controversy

When Marlon Brando won Best Actor at the Academy Awards for his role in The Godfather on March 27, 1973, he sent Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather in his place. Dressed in traditional Apache garb, she declined the award on Brando’s behalf, “And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry."

Littlefeather’s appearance was met with a mix of boos and applause from the audience. But, before her death in 2022, the Academy honoured Littlefeather for her protest, calling it "a powerful statement on behalf of human dignity and against the marginalization of Indigenous people."

In this episode, Arion, Olly and Rebecca consider the lasting impact of this stark political moment; revisit Littlefeather’s earlier work for Playboy; and explain why, as a rumoured ‘Pretendian’, her ethnic identity continues to make headlines…

Further Reading:

• ‘A shocking moment in Oscars history, 50 years on’ (BBC Culture, 2023):

• ‘Sacheen Littlefeather was a Native icon. Her sisters say she was an ethnic fraud’ (San Francisco Chronicle, 2022):

• ’Marlon Brando's Best Actor Oscar win for "The Godfather"’ (Academy Awards, 1973):

#Hollywood #70s #Native #Racism

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The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Sophie King.

Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2023.

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