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Bob Fosse had a tough act to follow when he accepted his best director Oscar for Cabaret in 1973.
A few minutes before, the best actor award had been announced, and The Godfather star Marlon Brando had sent Apache actress Sacheen Littlefeather to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion to decline the honor because of the “treatment of American Indians today by the film industry.” The Hollywood Reporter said the moment “blew the top off the TV set.” THR felt that until then, “the Oscar show was not one of the better ones we have seen.”
The Godfather and Cabaret each entered the night with 10 nominations, and it ended with Fosse’s Cabaret winning eight times and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather three. After he accepted his statuette from George Stevens, Fosse, then 45, said, “Being characteristically a pessimist and cynic, this and some of the other nice things that have happened to me in the past couple days may turn me into some sort of hopeful optimist and ruin my whole life.” The ceremony offered a number of other interesting moments. Michael Jackson, then 14, sang the nominated theme from Ben (a film about a boy and his pet rat), and Charlie Chaplin, who did not attend, won his only competitive Oscar for the score to Limelight, a film he had completed two decades earlier. Best picture went to The Godfather.
This story first appeared in a January stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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