From Marlon Brando to Patricia Arquette, Hollywood stars have often used their moments on the stage to make political pleas. Some inspire change, some polite applause and some are simply mocked for trying to get serious about a personal cause at a ritzy gala.
Meryl Streep’s acceptance speech about President-elect Donald Trump and his policies at Sunday night’s Golden Globes was different in many ways from previous such speeches. As the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement honoree, she was afforded a large chunk of time and so she didn’t have to blurt out a sentence or two before an orchestra played her off. Few, too, can match her talent as a performer and speaker.
Streep’s speech, which led to Trump on Monday dismissing her as “overrated,” has already joined the colorful history of awards show podiums transformed into passionate pulpits. Here are some of the most famous ones:
— Marlon Brando, 1973. The actor didn’t accept his 1973 Academy Award for best actor for his performance in “The Godfather.” Instead he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, president of the National Native American Affirmative Image Committee. Littlefeather said Brando could not accept the award because of “the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns.” She said: “I beg at this time that I have not intruded on this evening, and that … in the future our hearts and our understandings will meet with love and generosity.”
— Bert Schneider, 1975. Accepting the Oscar for best documentary for his Vietnam War documentary “Hearts and Minds,” producer Schneider read a telegram from the North Vietnamese ambassador at the Paris peace talks. Schneider said, “It’s ironic that we’re here at a time just before Vietnam is about to be liberated.” Frank Sinatra, the show’s host, later in the broadcast apologized for “any political references on this program.”
— Michael Moore, 2003. When Moore accepted the Oscar for best documentary in 2003 for “Bowling for Columbine,” the war in Iraq had begun just days earlier. Moore condemned President George W. Bush for the invasion. “We live in the time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president,” Moore said. “We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons.” He concluded: “We are against this war, Mr. Bush. Shame on you, Mr. Bush, shame on you.”
— Sally Field, 2007: Accepting her Emmy Award for the series “Brothers and Sisters,” Field’s words protesting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were partly censored by Fox. “Surely this belongs to all the mothers of the world. May they be seen, may their work be valued and raised and to especially the mothers who stand with an open heart and wait, wait for their children to come home from danger, from harm’s way and from war,” Field said. “Let’s face it, if the mothers ruled the world, there would be no goddamn wars in the first place.”
— Sean Penn, 2009: Just months before Penn won the best actor Oscar for the gay rights activist Harvey Milk biopic “Milk,” California passed Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state. (It was overturned in 2015.) Said Penn, noting the Prop 8 protesters at the ceremony: “For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren’s eyes if they continue that way of support.” He added: “We’ve got to have equal rights for everyone.”
— Patricia Arquette, 2015. Winning the best supporting actress at the Oscars for “Boyhood,” Arquette took aim at the wage gap and gender equality. “To every woman who gave birth to every taxpayer and citizen of this nation, we have fought for everybody else’s equal rights,” said Arquette. “It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”