In 1973, two actors refused Oscars at the Academy Awards ceremony: Marlon Brando and George C. Scott. Marlon Brando refused his Best Actor award for his performance in The Godfather, while George C. Scott refused his Best Actor award for his performance in Patton.
Marlon Brando refused his award in protest of the treatment of Native Americans in Hollywood films. He sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American actress, to the ceremony to deliver a speech on his behalf. Littlefeather was only given 60 seconds to speak, and she was booed by the audience. Littlefeather was also prevented from entering the press room after the ceremony.
George C. Scott also refused his award, stating that he believed the Oscars were “a two-hour meat parade, a public display with contrived suspense for economic reasons.” He also felt that the awards were too focused on commercial success rather than artistic merit.
Now, almost 50 years later, the Academy is finally apologizing to Sacheen Littlefeather for the way she was treated at the 1973 ceremony. The Academy will make the apology at an event next month. The event will also honor Marlon Brando and George C. Scott for their courage in standing up for their beliefs.
The Academy’s apology is a long-overdue recognition of the two actors’ bravery in refusing the Oscars. It is also a reminder that the entertainment industry still has a long way to go in terms of recognizing and respecting the contributions of Native Americans and other minority groups.