The most shocking moments in Oscars history

Academy apologizes to Sacheen Littlefeather nearly 50 years after infamous Oscars mistreatment

Stars Insider

8 hours ago | StarsInsider

MOVIES Academy awards

As one of the most revered awards shows in Hollywood (the industry that, after all, thrives on drama), it makes sense that the Oscars have their own history of outrageous and salacious controversies. After the dramatic 2022 ceremony involving the infamous slap with Will Smith and Chris Rock, people were reminded of one particularly aggressive moment back in 1973 that didn't get nearly as much outrage as it should have.

The moment in question is, of course, when actress and activist Sacheen Littlefeather was booed, heckled with mock ululations, and threatened with arrest and physical assault—and all for a 60-second speech protesting Native American mistreatment. John Wayne reportedly had to be restrained from rushing the stage to physically attack her, and the aftermath wasn't any better, as Littlefeather's identity and career were dragged through the mud. Now, nearly 50 years after her undue harassment, the Academy is apologizing. 

“The abuse you endured because of this statement was unwarranted and unjustified,” then-Academy president David Rubin writes in the organization’s apology letter, dated June 18. “The emotional burden you have lived through and the cost to your own career in our industry are irreparable. For too long the courage you showed has been unacknowledged. For this, we offer both our deepest apologies and our sincere admiration.”

The full statement of apology will be read at the Academy Museum's Indigenous celebration event on September 17, at which Littlefeather will be the guest of honor. “I was stunned. I never thought I’d live to see the day I would be hearing this, experiencing this,” the activist told The Hollywood Reporter of the apology. "When I was at the podium in 1973, I stood there alone.”

From hilarious host gaffes to loud political statements on the red carpet, the reactions to the Academy Awards can be more entertaining than some of the films themselves. Click through to reminisce on some of the most historic moments.

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