The Oscars' All-Time Most Outrageous Moment—and What It Meant
Just how much "courtesy" the audience had shown Littlefeather on Oscar night is debatable, but in the days, weeks, and years that followed she became a target. Her authenticity was challenged, and as she told ICTMN in 2012, she was blacklisted, thus bringing her acting career to a premature end.
That ICTMN article was written in response to yet another smear, 39 years later, from comedian Dennis Miller, who decribed now-Senator Elizabeth Warren as "about as much Indian as that stripper chick Brando sent to pick up his Oscar for The Godfather." The "stripper" comment was probably a reference to a photo shoot Littlefeather did with nine other Native women in 1972. Playboy had decided not to use the pictorial (titled "Ten Little Indians," of course) due to the Wounded Knee Incident, but after Littlefeather's sudden rise to fame the magazine did publish some photos of her in its October 1973 issue.
Littlefeather, who has continued her activism if not her acting career, is featured in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly, and she seems at peace with the life she has lived.“I promised myself a long time ago that I would lead an interesting life. ... And that’s what I’ve done, Marlon Brando or no Marlon Brando…. I’m an elder now, coming to the end of my road. Now I am in a place of being a healer, if you will, of my own journey.”
John Wayne's reaction to Littlefeather's speech was, reportedly, “If [Brando] had something to say, he should have appeared that night and stated his views instead of taking some little unknown girl and dressing her up in an Indian outfit.” Though his dismissive words about Littlefeather are unpleasant, the Duke did have a point -- if Brando wanted to say something about the treatment of American Indians, why didn't Brando himself say it? A private man known for avoiding interviews and publicity, Brando did later appear on the Dick Cavett Show and share his thoughts on the situation. Here's an abridged video:
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