Feb. 26, 2016 | By Bruce R. Feldman
From the Oscar trenches: The offer Brando and Streisand both refused. First published on Feb. 23, 2014 on hollywoodisaplacewhere.com
On the eve of the 1973 ceremonies, Marlon Brando announced that he would boycott the Academy Awards and send Sacheen Littlefeather to the podium to refuse his Oscar for “The Godfather,” should he win it. When the presenters, Liv Ullman and Roger Moore, read his name, Littlefeather calmly strolled onstage and concisely, yet respectfully protested the degrading depiction of Native Americans in movies and on television. She then exited to polite applause, leaving Ullman and Moore holding Brando’s statuette.
All of this has been much publicized. Less well known – or perhaps never publicly revealed, as there is no mention of it on the Internet – is the role Barbra Streisand almost played in this incident.
An industry insider who worked with Streisand at the time told us that after Brando proclaimed that he would decline the Oscar, the Motion Picture Academy asked Streisand to accept on his behalf. When Brando found out, he called Streisand to request that she not go ahead. He supposedly proclaimed, “I have something else in mind." He did, and what followed became the stuff of Oscar lore.
The year after the Littlefeather dustup, Brando received another nomination, his seventh, for “Last Tango in Paris." He went on to make “Apocalypse Now,” “Superman,” “The Freshman,” and another dozen or so forgettable films before his death in 2004. He was nominated a final time for “A Dry White Season” in 1989. Sacheen Littlefeather had a role in Tom Laughlin’s popular “The Trial of Billy Jack” (1974). She now lives in Northern California. Her website says that she “is available for interviews, appearances and speaking engagements.”
Streisand saw Brando on screen for the first time in “Guys and Dolls.” She was 13 and has said in interviews that she immediately idolized him and wanted to be like him. The pair met in the early 1960s, becoming fast friends, although they never worked together. She once called Brando "the finest actor who ever lived." She added, "Everything I do, I think, 'Can Brando play this with me?'" In her famous 1993-94 concert tour, she sang Jean Simmons’ part in the ballad “I’ll Know” from “Guys and Dolls” as Brando crooned with her on a film clip projected behind her. Got an Oscar story you want to share? Write us at firstname.lastname@example.org