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OTRC: Marlon Brando refuses Oscar via Sacheen Littlefeather - Oscar History (Video)

Satchee, an American Indian, accepted Marlon Brando's Academy Award for "The Godfather" in a very memorable way - by declining it. (OTRC / Academy Awards)

Throughout this Oscar season, we are looking back at some of the great moments in Academy Awards history. At the 45th Academy Awards in March 1973, Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather stepped in to refuse Marlon Brando's Oscar for Best Actor for his role in "The Godfather."

Brando had been a longtime supporter of Native American rights, and became involved with the American Indian Movement. The actor wanted to make a statement about the Wounded Knee incident in 1973 as well as to voice his discontent with Hollywood's portrayal of Native Americans in film and television.

American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Cruz Littlefeather attended the ceremony and rejected the Oscar on his behalf. Littlefeather appeared at the ceremony dressed in Apache attire.

Roger Moore presented the Oscar to Littlefeather, who waived the actor off and said at the podium, "Hello. My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I'm Apache and I am president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee."

"I'm representing Marlin Brando this evening, and he has asked me to tell you in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently because of time, but I will be glad to share with the press afterwards, that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award."

Littlefeather continued, "And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry, excuse me, and on television in movie re-runs and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee. I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening and that in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity."

She ended her statement with, "Thank you on behalf of Marlon Brando."

That night, Brando became the second actor to refuse a Best Actor award, the first was George C. Scott who turned down his Oscar for the 1970 film "Patton."

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