Just Some Thoughts On…The Myth of John Wayne and Sacheen Littlefeather

  • 45th Academy Awards-March 27, 1973

One thing that keeps turning up repeatedly in entertainment print is the story of Sacheen Littlefeather (real name Marie Louise Cruz) and what happened at the ’73 Academy Awards. I am not concerned with what happened on stage since that is not in dispute. Rather I am concerned with the long told story of what happened BEHIND the scenes and off camera. I am bothered that nobody really seems to have questioned the story put forth by Littlefeather concerning her life or those backstage events that she claimed occurred.

As per the tale Wayne needed to be held back by six security guards backstage while Littlefeather spoke. Makes Littlefeather look brave in the face of a man known mostly by his cinematic persona of a tough, no-nonsense man. He was this poweful figure and she was this frail little woman.

Not that long ago a blogger named Farran Nehme took some time out to dive into the situation and realized it had difficulty holding up to scrutiny. (Read it here.) Why nobody before him did so is strange. Reporters not only report on but dig into the story and nobody ever did here. The LA Times reported on the post but few cared to dig in further. (Read it here.)

One thing he points out, and the main thing that casts doubt on the whole six security guards, is that Wayne was missing a lung and required supplemental oxygen at this point in his life. This made him physically weak. That was no big secret but it was something he avoided showing to the general public. But that alone is not enough to make it questionable. The thing was he went onstage shortly after he was supposedly held back in a big struggle not looking distressed or out of breath despite needing oxygen. Not even heavy breathing.

And not only that but apparently there is some significant question about Sacheen “Marie Louise Cruz” Littlefeather’s heritage as well as her general background. It appears that Sacheen Littlefeather is as Native American as Rachel Dolezal is African-American. Her sisters after her passing came forward and spoke up and contradicted much of the story upon which that woman propped herself up. Read a story on that here. Why did nobody ever do some digging until then?

The thing is the media still reports the questionable elements as if they are undisputed fact. And worse the decade since that Oscar incident (at least the stuff that is indisputable) no one bothered to dig into the background of Littlefeather or whether or not there was any veracity to her claims of the backstage antics. Far too many people were willing to let it be treated as an unquestioned fact without checking into it. Perhaps because it played into their biases concerning John Wayne. Perhaps it in some way supported their view on this or that.

As stated earlier John Wayne by the time this happened needed supplemental oxygen because he was missing a lung. It was not normally seen in public and certainly never played into any of his movie roles but nevertheless it was something he needed. While his public image was that of someone strong and virile in reality he was not the physical powerhouse he was a short time prior. Meaning by the time of the incident of Sacheen Littlefeather it’s unlikely they would’ve needed six security guards to hold him back-at least not for any extended period.

But the bigger question is why didn’t the media dig into her past? Why didn’t anybody say let’s check this lady’s claims out? Did the support of Marlon Brando give her a level of credibility that others thought made her unquestionable? I don’t know. I have no answers on that as I cannot look into the minds of the people who have supported the story since it was first discussed.

I am bothered though that entertainment and just general news sources still treat the whole narrative as proven fact when it does not appear that way. But then again that would require a hard look at themselves and not everyone can bring themselves to do that.

In my personal opinion I think some of it has to do with John Wayne himself. I’m not defending the man as some kind of saint. He certainly had his flaws and his issues. He was not however some pointy hood wearing cross burner. And given that Frank Sinatra was good friends with Sammy Davis Jr. along with Wayne I have trouble believing he would’ve been friends with an unrepentant racist. It’s my understanding Sinatra had a strong loyalty streak with Davis. As did Wayne with his friends which included Frank Sinatra.

John Wayne was an icon of the silver screen mythology of the United States. And there are some people who have an axe to grind for one reason or another against the United States. Coincidentally Littlefeather/Cruz was one of them. An easy way to take swipes at this country is to strike at the memory of John Wayne whether what they use to strike at that memory is accurate or not. That may demonstrate why some people are willing to embrace a fiction involving the man if it harms his image.

I am a strong believer in embracing the truth even if the truth does not make me happy. I do it in my own life and I expect others to do it in their own as well as in what they present. I expect media organizations to give me accurate information.

Ultimately though I think this has been talked about so much without question for so long that it will never go away regardless of how much or how often the facts of the situation might be discussed. And ultimately that’s a disservice to everyone.

Published by warrenwatchedamovie

Just a movie lover trying spread the love.

One thought on “Just Some Thoughts On…The Myth of John Wayne and Sacheen Littlefeather

  1. Agreed. Sick of these untrue stories stated as fact. Jean Harlow’s death, the real story of Jane Fonda and Vietnam – I could go on but it seems like no one is ever interested in facts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: