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Actress, who gave Marlon Brando's Oscar rejection speech, dies at 75

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Sacheen Littlefeather has died. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the death of an actress best known for a moment at the Academy Awards. Marlon Brando sent her in his place to the ceremony in 1973.

(SOUNDBITE OF TELECAST OF 45TH ACADEMY AWARDS)

SACHEEN LITTLEFEATHER: My name is Sacheen Littlefeather. I'm Apache, and I'm president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Wearing a buckskin dress and moccasins, Littlefeather told the crowd that Marlon Brando would not accept his best actor award for "The Godfather."

(SOUNDBITE OF TELECAST OF 45TH ACADEMY AWARDS)

LITTLEFEATHER: And the reasons for this being are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry. Excuse me.

UNIDENTIFIED AUDIENCE MEMBER: Boo.

MARTÍNEZ: You can hear the boos coming from the audience, some cheers as well. Littlefeather recalled that moment in an interview a few years ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED KQED BROADCAST)

LITTLEFEATHER: People were making money off of that racism of the Hollywood Indian. Of course they're going to boo. They don't want their evening interrupted.

INSKEEP: She was widely criticized for her statement at the time. But this past summer, almost half a century later, and shortly before her death at the age of 75, the Academy apologized for the abuse she suffered and praised her courage. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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