Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Up for auction: Marlon Brando’s Oscar rejection letter

The first page of the letter up for auction.
For those looking to own a piece of Oscar history, look no further than Heritage Auctions Lot #46018.

The item up for bid is a rejection letter Marlon Brando wrote in case he won the Best Actor Oscar for "The Godfather."

In 1973, he became the second actor to refuse a Best Actor Oscar — the first being George C. Scott for "Patton."

He did not attend the ceremony. In his place, he sent American Indian Rights activist Sacheen Littlefeather, who refused the award on his behalf. Appearing in full Apache dress and holding the letter (up for auction), Littlefeather said Brando's rejection was based on his objection to the depiction of American Indians by Hollywood and television.

A four-page document up for auction was not read because of time. (Read the speech here.)

She said Brando "has asked me to tell you in a very long speech which I cannot share with you presently because of time …that he very regretfully cannot accept this very generous award."


Here is her speech:


According to Heritage Auctions, the letter was typed by Alice Marchak, Brando’s longtime personal assistant.

Excerpts of the written speech read in part:

  • "What kind of moral schizophrenia is it that allows us to shout at the top of our national voice for all the world to hear that we live up to our commitments … (when) lives of the American Indians contradicts that voice
  • "… what the hell has all this got to do with the Academy Awards. Why is this woman standing up here ruining our evening; invading our lives with things that don't concern us … I think the answer...is that the motion picture community has been as responsible as any for degrading the Indian and making a mockery of his character...;"

Also included in the auction:
A one-page typed note stapled to the speech, dated "March 28, 1973" (the day after the Academy Awards), meant for the press, it reads in part "Inasmuch as Miss Littlefeather, who represented me at the Academy Awards, was not allowed...to read my statement, I felt that perhaps I might enlist your help in having it published...Marlon Brando."

Bidding is currently at $300 and ends Friday, March 29, 2013 at 10 p.m. CT.

Don't expect Brando’s Oscar for 1954's "On the Waterfront" to be on the auction block.

While auctioning off memorabilia associated with the Oscars is quite easy, attempting to sell the statuettes themselves is practically forbidden.

Buying an Oscar is a rare occurrence since an Academy rule created in 1950 requires winners to sign an agreement stating they will not sell an Oscar without first offering to sell it back to the Academy for $1.

In July of 2011, an unidentified buyer bid $89,625.00 for a 1942 Oscar statuette. It was an Academy Award for Best Sound Recording, given to Nathan Levinson for “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

For anyone interesting in another gold statue, a Golden Globe Award is up for sale. Brando’s 1954 Globe for “On the Waterfront” is up for auction — Lot #46014 by Heritage Auctions. An interested bidder can own this classic trophy for under $10,000.

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