Readers like you keep news free for everyone.

More than 5,000 readers have already pitched in to keep free access to The Journal.

For the price of one cup of coffee each week you can help keep paywalls away.

Support us today
Not now
Advertisement

The Academy apologises to native American star for historic Oscars abuse

The Academy has moved to confront accusations of a lack of racial diversity in recent years.

Sacheen Littlefeather appears at the Academy Awards ceremony to announce that Marlon Brando was declining his Oscar as best actor for his role in The Godfather.
Sacheen Littlefeather appears at the Academy Awards ceremony to announce that Marlon Brando was declining his Oscar as best actor for his role in The Godfather.
Image: AP/PA Images

THE ACADEMY OF Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has officially apologised to Sacheen Littlefeather who was heckled at the 1973 Academy Awards while explaining why an absent Marlon Brando could not accept his best actor Oscar for The Godfather.

Littlefeather later said veteran Western star John Wayne had to be restrained from physically assaulting her, in an incident that has since drawn comparisons with Will Smith’s infamous attack on Chris Rock at this year’s ceremony.

She had explained that Brando could not accept the award due to “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry”.

“The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified,” said the apology letter sent in June from then-Academy president David Rubin.

“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.”

The Academy released the letter as it announced that Littlefeather has been invited to speak at its film museum in Los Angeles next month.

The museum, which opened last September, has pledged to confront the Oscars’ “problematic history” including racism. One display already tackles the harassment of Littlefeather.

“Regarding the Academy’s apology to me, we Indians are very patient people — it’s only been 50 years!” Littlefeather said in a statement.

“We need to keep our sense of humour about this at all times. It’s our method of survival,” said Littlefeather, describing the upcoming event as “a dream come true”.

“It is profoundly heartening to see how much has changed since I did not accept the Academy Award 50 years ago. I am so proud of each and every person who will appear on stage,” she added.

The Academy has moved to confront accusations of a lack of racial diversity in recent years.

In 2019, “Last of the Mohicans” star Wes Studi became the first Native American actor to receive an Oscar, with an honorary Academy Award recognising his career.

Its museum has also hosted virtual events on women who achieved historic Oscars milestones including a talk with Buffy Sainte-Marie — the first Indigenous person to win an Oscar, for best original song in 1983.

“We didn’t want to erase films and artists and moments that may be uncomfortable. We wanted to confront them and contextualize them, throughout all of our core gallery spaces,” Bill Kramer, then the museum’s director, told AFP ahead of its opening last year.

© – AFP, 2022

About the author:

AFP

Read next:

COMMENTS (9)

This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
write a comment

    Leave a commentcancel