American actress, model, and Native American civil rights activist Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather (born Marie Louise Cruz; November 14, 1946 – October 2, 2022). Littlefeather was raised by a white mother and a Native American (Apache and Yaqui) father. Since joining the Native American activist community during the Alcatraz occupation of 1969, she has been an outspoken advocate for her people.
Death Cause: Sacheen Littlefeather Passed Away At Age 75
The Hollywood Reporter reported that the Native American actress and activist, who declined Marlon Brando’s 1973 Oscar triumph for The Godfather on his behalf and was blacklisted in Hollywood, passed away on Sunday at the age of 75.
She said that she had been given a stage 4 breast cancer diagnosis and that it had spread in March 2018.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the decision on social media on Sunday after issuing a formal apology to her in June and hosting a gala in her honor earlier this month.
Brando asked Littlefeather to turn down his Oscar in 1973 in protest of the way Native Americans were portrayed in the media and to draw attention to the occupation of Wounded Knee, where hundreds of members of the American Indian Movement (AIM) were engaged in a standoff with tens of thousands of U.S. marshals and other federal agents.
He regrettably is unable to accept this very wonderful award, she stated as she entered the stage. The treatment of American Indians now in the entertainment industry, on television in movie reruns, and especially with recent events at Wounded Knee, are the causes for this.
She would later cite her Oscar speech as the reason she was “blacklisted” from acting roles in the 2022 documentary Sacheen: Breaking the Silence. Or, you might use the term “redlisted,” Littlefeather said. I was rejected by Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, and other hosts. The doors were tightly shut, never to be opened again.
About Marie Louise Cruz (Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather)
Marie Louise Cruz, better known by her stage name Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather, was an American actress, model, and Native American civil rights, activist. She died on October 2, 2022. Littlefeather was born to a white mother and a Native American (Apache and Yaqui) father. She joined the Native American activist scene during the Alcatraz occupation in 1969.
Marlon Brando was represented by Littlefeather at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973, and she declined the Best Actor honor that Brando received for his work in The Godfather on his behalf. Brando, who was expected to win, abstained from the ceremony in protest against how Native Americans are portrayed in Hollywood and to raise awareness of the Wounded Knee conflict. The audience booed and applauded in reaction to her remarks in response to Brando’s boycott.
Littlefeather worked in hospice care following her address at the Academy Awards. She continued to produce documentaries about Native Americans and advocate for health-related and Native American problems. The Academy wrote Littlefeather a letter of apology in June 2022, which was read in full on September 17 at An Evening with Sacheen Littlefeather.