Only 3 People in History Refused an Oscar: Here's Why They Did It
The Oscars are one of the most prestigious award ceremonies around.
Most are thrilled to be nominated for their artistic and theatrical contribution at the event, let alone win an award. Yet three of the Academy's distinguished winners have, at different times, unexpectedly refused their awards altogether. Each of them rejected the recognition for different reasons, but all of them did so to send a strong message about their personal values and beliefs. Here are the three instances it happened.
Dudley Nicholas – Best Screenplay for The Informer (1935)
Dudley Nichols, who won the Best Adapted Screenplay award for The Informer, was the first person to refuse an Oscar. Nicholas decided to boycott the ceremony and not accept the award due to a labor dispute between the Writers Guild and the studios.
Nichols was a member of the guild and believed that the studios were unfairly taking advantage of writers. He wanted to send a message that writers deserved better treatment and pay, and refusing the Oscar was one way to do so.
Three years later, after the dispute had been settled, Nicholas eventually accepted the award at the 1938 ceremony. Nichols was later elected President of the Writers Guild Of America because of his efforts to defend the guild previously. He was also nominated for three further Academy Awards during his career.
George C. Scott – Best Actor for Patton (1970)
George C. Scott was a highly respected actor known for his strong opinions about the film industry. When nominated for Best Actor for his role in Patton, he made it clear that he did not want to win.
Scott famously called the Oscars "a two-hour meat parade" and refused to attend the ceremony. When he inevitably won, he stuck to his guns and declined the award; making him the first actor to refuse an Oscar permanently.
On the night, the film's producer, Frank McCarthy, accepted the Oscar in lieu of Scott and returned it to the Academy the following day.
Marlon Brando – Best Actor for The Godfather (1972)
Marlon Brando was already a legendary actor when he won his second Oscar for his iconic performance as Vito Corleone in The Godfather. However, he chose not to attend the ceremony and instead sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Native American activist, in his place. Littlefeather used the opportunity to deliver a speech about the mistreatment of Native Americans in the film industry and declined the award on Brando's behalf.
Brando's decision to refuse the Oscar was a powerful statement about the importance of social justice and representation in Hollywood.
Critics were later divided over the relevance of Brando's actions and Littlefeather's presence at the awards. Yet it remains a crucial moment in the Academy's history and the last time anyone refused to accept an Oscar.