Boomers Watched the Academy Awards Show in 1973

The 45th Annual Academy Awards presentation was held on March 27, 1973. Fifty years ago, the youngest boomer was aged nine, and probably saw at least part of the telecast. The program honored films that were released in 1972, many of which are now considered classics of American cinema.

The Best Picture award went to The Godfather. Best Directing was given to Bob Fosse for Cabaret. Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor awards went to Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey, respectively, for Cabaret.

But, the telecast is forever memorable for another reason, and that is when Sacheen Lightfeather (Maria Cruz) appeared in Native American dress in place of Marlon Brando when he was announced the winner for Best Actor. In announcing Brando would not accept the award, she gave the reason he had sent her there was because of “the treatment of American Indians today in the film industry…” Ms. Lightfeather added, “I beg at this time that I have not intruded upon this evening,” … and that … “in the future, our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity.”

Though the audience reaction was mixed, Lightfeather, also an actress, was blacklisted and said years later that J. Edgar Hoover personally told people in the industry not to hire her. On September 17, 2022, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences issued a formal apology for the manner in which she was treated during the speech and the following years, acknowledging the incident ended her film career. Lightfeather died on October 2, 2022, after a long battle with breast cancer.

Certainly, Mister B did watch the memorable telecast of the 1973 Academy Awards. While there have been many years when Mister Boomer saw few, if any, Academy Award-nominated films, in 1973 he was of adult age and had seen several that had been nominated in various categories. Movies were often reserved for a date night. Aside from The Godfather (though to this day he has not seen either sequel) and Cabaret, he went to the movies to see The Candidate, Sleuth, The Poseidon Adventure and Deliverance.

For other boomers, there was a host of amazing nominated movies made in 1972 to see, including 1776, The Ruling Class, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoise, Butterflies Are Free, Fat City, Young Winston, Travels with My Aunt, Sounder, Lady Sings the Blues and The Heartbreak Kid.

Did you watch the Academy Awards telecast in 1973, boomers?