Earlier this week, we reported that the sisters of the late activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who infamously took the stage to refuse Marlon Brando’s Oscar on his behalf at the 1973 Academy Awards, was lying about being Native American/
Now, Littlefeather’s claims that John Wayne tried to physically assault her at this Oscars ceremony are being called into question as well.
Sacheen Littlefeather Says 1973 John Wayne Incident Was 'Most Violent Moment' in Oscars History pic.twitter.com/d6KYKvhRKv
— People (@people) September 16, 2022
Littlefeather’s Wayne Accusations
Before she died earlier this month at the age of 75, Littlefeather claimed for decades that Wayne had to be physically restrained by six men as he tried to storm the stage and stop her from giving her speech while refusing Brando’s Oscar.
“I remember the faces in the crowd,” Littlefeather alleged 30 years after the ceremony. “John Wayne, backstage, had to be restrained by six men from coming to get me and pull me off the stage.”
Littlefeather doubled down on this two weeks before her death, telling Variety, “I heard a disturbance from behind me as I was speaking up at the podium. I found out that [Wayne] had been restrained by six security men from assaulting me while I was on that stage.”
Littlefeather even went so far as to call this the “most violent moment” in the history of the Oscars.
Just a reminder that it took 6 security guards to keep John Wayne from rushing the stage and attack Sacheen Littlefeather at the Academy Awards while Clint Eastwood mocked her request of TV and Film industry to treat indigenous people as humans. pic.twitter.com/ewX2G6hVHU
— AskAubry ? (@ask_aubry) August 16, 2022
Historian Questions Wayne’s Claims
The historian Farran Smith Nehme, however, is now calling Littlefeather’s claims about Wayne into question. On her Self-Styled Siren website, Nehme took an in depth look at Littlefeather’s allegations against Wayne, and she laid out some reasons as to why they’re questionable at best.
In order to investigate Littlefeather’s claims, Nehme poured over video clips from the 1973 Oscars ceremony, reviewed media accounts from the time period, and talked to one of Wayne’s biographers. She concluded that while Wayne likely didn’t like Littlefeather’s speech, which she used to complain about the way Native Americans are treated in Hollywood, there’s no evidence that he needed six men to hold him back “lest he race onstage and attack like he’s King Kong.”
One of the main pieces of evidence that Nehme found indicating that this “never happened” was that there simply wasn’t time. From the time Brando’s name was read out to the time Littlefeather left the stage, only one minute and 45 seconds elapsed, and much of that time was spent on her walking to the stage, with her only speaking for about 60 seconds.
“(Brando) very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award. The reasons for this … are the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry,” Littlefeather said onstage as the audience began to boo her.
the Academy is right to be apologizing to Sacheen Littlefeather, and it should have happened years ago. She made brief polite and dignified comments on Marlon Brando’s behalf and got roundly booed and damned assaulted backstage by John Wayne pic.twitter.com/8O5Zxm44Q3
— Brian McNamara (@WandLLaw99) August 16, 2022
Littlefeather Politely Escorted Offstage
After her speech, Littlefeather was politely escorted offstage by Roger Moore and Liv Ullman, who had been the presenters for the Best Actor Oscar award. They can be seen in videos moving her backstage, and there’s no indication that anyone is being held back there. Hollywood publicist Dick Guttman would later recall how he and Moore immediately guided Littlefeather to an elevator that took her to the press room, meaning that she had virtually no time backstage to potentially see Wayne being held back.
Minutes later, while Littlefeather was likely still in the press room, Wayne walked onstage at the Oscars to introduce the finale that involved all of the winners and presenters taking the stage to perform a chorus of “You Ought to Be in Pictures.” Check out that moment for yourself below.
Nehme pointed out that in the above clip, Wayne “looked pretty calm” for a man who supposedly “caused backstage mayhem moments ago.” She also noticed that Wayne was walking slowly, which was not surprising given the fact that he was 65 and had undergone lung cancer surgery just a few years before. She revealed that by this point in his life, Wayne sometimes had difficulty breathing and was not “in fighting shape,” making it even less likely that he would have tried to storm the stage.
Scott Eyman, a biographer of Wayne’s, told Nehme that The Duke probably “would have been pissed off by Brando’s rejection of an award Wayne and his generation had considerable respect for.” However, he added that “nobody” who knew Wayne ever believed the “six security men” story because he was “not physically aggressive.”
Littlefeather’s Sisters Expose Her Alleged Lies
After Littlefeather died on October 2 at the age of 75, her two surviving sisters spoke out to claim that she had been lying about being Native American all along, and instead came from Hispanic heritage.
“It’s a lie,” one of her sisters said of her Native American claims. “My father was who he was. His family came from Mexico. And my dad was born in Oxnard.”
“It is a fraud,” her other sister added in agreement. “It’s disgusting to the heritage of the tribal people. And it’s just… insulting to my parents.”
Just another Pretendian! Activist Sacheen Littlefeather wasn't Indian, according to her two sisters. She made it all up for attention because she hated being a Mexican. Shame on her! She even portrayed her deaf father as an abusive alcoholic or never hurt anyone. pic.twitter.com/Foppsf0Ouc
— Joey Lowe (@JoeyaLowe) October 23, 2022
If Littlefeather could lie about being Native American for half a century, she could easily also have lied about Wayne, who hasn’t been around to defend himself since he passed away in 1979. After so many years of being demonized by Littlefeather, perhaps Wayne has finally been vindicated in the wake of her other despicable lies being exposed.