Famous People Who’ve Turned Down Major Awards or Nominations

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The Oscars, the Grammys, and the Golden Globes are some of the most renowned annual celebrity events, where a select few artists receive awards for their exemplary work. Although the vast majority of recipients gladly accept their trophies, there are rare occasions when an honoree decides to turn down an award, as Marlon Brando famously did in 1973 when he rejected an Oscar for Best Actor, for his role in “The Godfather.”

As Brando did not attend the ceremony, Apache actress Sacheen Littlefeather refused the award in his stead, citing Brando’s desire to draw attention to Hollywood’s negative portrayals of Native Americans. (See this famous moment and more by looking back at some of the most iconic photos from the Oscars.)

To compile a list of 30 famous people who have turned down major awards or nominations, 24/7 Tempo reviewed multiple biographical and internet sources, including History.com and the Los Angeles Times, as well as entertainment industry media, and other general-interest sites.

Like Brando, many honorees have rejected their awards or nominations as a form of protest or boycott to highlight an issue they care about. Another reason people may turn down the opportunity for prestige is because they simply harbor disdain for the pageantry or commercialism of award ceremonies. Pacifism or disagreement with a government’s policies or actions are also reasons for rejecting honors. 

Nobel Peace Prizes have been rejected, as have Olympic medals. Many celebrities have said no thanks to British honors including knighthood and various Order of the British Empire (OBE) awards. (Some people, on the other hand, may deserve an award that never materializes. Here are 25 of the Oscars’ most egregious snubs.)

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