We all should be the change we wish to see in the world. Going against the grain can be tough, but standing up for what you believe in despite backlash is an honorable trait — and activist and former actor Sacheen Littlefeather is no exception.
Folks familiar with Sacheen are aware that she made a political statement at the 45th Academy Awards in 1973. At the time, the young actress addressed the treatment of Native Americans in the entertainment industry. Interestingly, Sacheen was supposed to accept the award for Best Actor on behalf of Marlon Brando for his performance in The Godfather, but she declined. In turn, she was treated terribly by the Academy and was booed by audience members.
However, it appears that the Academy has had a change of heart and has issued an apology. Now, social media users are wondering where Sacheen Littlefeather is today. Here’s what we know.
Sacheen Littlefeather has been dealing with severe health issues over the years.
According to The Guardian, Sacheen has stopped giving interviews around 2021 due to her health. In a June 2021 interview with the outlet, Sacheen explained that she has endured a lot on the health front.
“I’m very, very ill,” Sacheen told The Guardian. “I have metastasis breast cancer — terminal — to my right lung. And I’ve been on chemotherapy for quite some time, and daily antibiotics. As a result, my memory is not as good as it used to be.”
Sacheen went on to share that she’s been experiencing major fatigue and having to undergo multiple rounds of health screenings due to cancer.
“I’m very tired all the time because cancer is a full-time job: the CT scans, MRIs, laboratory blood work, medical visits, chemotherapy, infectious disease control doctors, etc,” Sacheen added. “If you’re lazy, you need not apply for cancer.”
David Rubin, former president of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, has issued a written apology to Sacheen Littlefeather.
Standing up to the film industry’s elite is one most would avoid at all costs. But for Sacheen, the choice was bigger than herself. The film industry had a reputation of portraying Native Americans in a negative light and unfortunately, Sacheen’s effort to foster change was met with mixed reviews.
In a clip of Sacheen’s speech, you can hear audience members booing and cheering. In fact, Sacheen also recalled being physically assaulted by actor John Wayne, per The Guardian. However, it appears that The Academy has seen the error in their ways and has issued an apology to Sacheen.
Per NBC News, John Rubin, the former president of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, apologized to Sacheen for the mistreatment she experienced.
“I write to you today a letter that has been a long time coming on behalf of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, with humble acknowledgment of your experience at the 45th Academy Awards,” John said in a letter — which was published online on August 15, 2022 — according to the outlet. “As you stood on the Oscars stage in 1973 to not accept the Oscar on behalf of Marlon Brando, in recognition of the misrepresentation and mistreatment of Native American people by the film industry, you made a powerful statement that continues to remind us of the necessity of respect and the importance of human dignity.
The letter went on to share that “the abuse was unwarranted and unjustified.”
“For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged,” John added. “For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”
Sacheen once shared her belief of being “blacklisted” in Hollywood.
Unfortunately, many people would say that John's apology came way too late, since her stance affected her career. Sacheen shared her belief that she was “blacklisted” by Hollywood after the Oscars incident.
“I couldn’t get a job to save my life,” Sacheen told The Guardian. “I knew that J. Edgar Hoover had gone around and told people in the industry not to hire me, because he would shut their talkshow or their production down. I got word from people in the industry that that would happen to them.”
Sacheen eventually left Hollywood behind and became a health consultant after earning a degree in holistic health and nutrition. The activist went on to help other Native Americans in the U.S. by sharing knowledge and working with various health groups.