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Marlon Brando is one of many celebrities who made waves at an Oscars ceremony. In 1973, the actor famously did not accept his Best Actor Oscar; sending Sacheen Littlefeather to reject the trophy for him and speak on behalf of the Native American community. So, did Brando ever regret that decision?
Brando: ‘I Felt That It Was A Marvelous Opportunity’
Just a few months after the Oscars ceremony, Brando appeared on The Dick Cavett Show, where the host asked him about skipping the award show. “If you had the Academy Awards night to do over again, would you do any of that differently?” Cavett asked the actor.
“I don’t think so, no,” Brando answered. “I felt that there was an opportunity…since the American Indian hasn’t been able to hear his voice heard, or have his voice heard, anywhere in the history of the United States, I felt that it was a marvelous opportunity for an Indian to be able to voice his opinion to 85 million people.”
“I felt that he has a right to, in view of what Hollywood has done to him,” Brando continued, referring to Littlefeather’s comments on the way Native Americans had been portrayed in movies. After delivering her speech, Littlefeather was booed and other attendees were not happy about what she said—actor John Wayne actually had to be held back by security guards to stop him from storming the stage.
The Actor’s Thoughts On Stereotypes In Hollywood
“I was embarrassed for Sasheen,” Brando said. “She wasn’t able to say what she intended to say…I was distressed that people should have booed and whistled and stomped, even though perhaps it was directed to myself, they should have at least had the courtesy to listen to her.”
“I think she did very well,” he continued. “And I was very glad that she did have what opportunity she had to say what she did.” Cavett continued the conversation, asking Brando why Littlefeather had not been able to read the actor’s original 15-page statement.
He replied, “I think they just didn’t want her there. They didn’t want the evening interrupted with that particular note…I don’t think that people generally realize what the motion picture industry has done to the American Indian.”
Brando went on to describe the stereotypical ways that Hollywood has depicted Native Americans and other minority groups over the years, saying, “It just goes on and on and on and people actually don’t realize how deeply these people are injured by seeing themselves [negatively] represented.”
Littlefeather’s appearance at the Oscars was one of the first political moments in the award show’s history, paving the way for many different Hollywood figures to make statements about the film industry and the world at large.
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