To use a Michael Caine-ism, Self-Styled Siren (aka Farren Smith Nehme) has blown the bloody doors off the urban myth about John Wayne being so angry at Sacheen Littlefeather for reading Marlon Brando‘s statement about declining the 1972 Best Actor Oscar that he had to be restrained by six security guys lest he physically assault or throw her off the stage.

Was Wayne, standing backstage, angry about the Brando statement? Yes, he was. But the rest is almost certainly bullshit, folks! Probably “never happened,” says Self-Styled Siren. It’s basically a tall tale that’s been passed along from one shady narrator to the next for decades.

So who’s at fault? Littlefeather, 75, is the most recent myth-bearer. SSS reports that Littlefeather didn’t actually witness an enraged Wayne being restrained by security guys. Or maybe she did…who knows? On 8.16.22 NPR quoted Littlefeather claiming that Wayne “attempted to assault me onstage…he had to be restrained by six security men in order to prevent him from doing exactly that.” Two days later she told Variety‘s Zack Sharf that Wayne “came forth in a rage to physically assault and take me off the stage. And he had to be restrained by six security men in order for that not to happen.”

The suspicion is that Littlefeather has primarily been repeating what she’s heard or has come to believe. Considering Wayne’s longstanding reputation as a racist conservative who once called Native Americans “greedy” for not sharing land with white settlers, Littlefeather, a Native American activist, is understandably sympathetic to any anti-Wayne narrative that comes along.

Who hatched the myth about Wayne being restrained? The original bad guys, SSS reports, are late Oscar show producer-director Marty Pasetta and (apparently) British writer Joan Sadler. But the biggest bullshitter…okay, the most questionable storyteller was Sadler, it appears. The only problem is that SSS provides no article sourcing, and that information about Sadler is quite scant.

It all started with Pasetta saying in 1974 that Wayne was “in an uproar” over the Brando-Littlefeather statement. (Uproar, in this context, refers to an angry vocal response.) And yet at the time Pasetta didn’t mention Wayne wanting to physically assault or intimidate Littlefeather.

Seven years later Sadler came along, according to SSS, with a 1981 article that (partially?) focused on the 1973 incident and which mentioned “six security men” who had allegedly restrained Wayne. SSS offers no link to the Sadler piece, but here’s the passage in question: “Backstage the late John Wayne, ever game for a scrap with the Indians, wanted to bound on stage to personally eject Littlefeather before she could speak. It took six men to hold him back.”

Seven years later, in 1988, Pasetta finally began talking about the security guys and Wayne threatening to drag Littlefeather off the stage. Why Marty hadn’t mentioned this any time previously is anyone’s guess.

So let’s just say that the mysterious Sadler did it, and that Pasetta (who was killed in 2015 by a drunk driver in Palm Desert) jumped into the pool after the water had already been warmed up by Sadler. And then, years later, Littlefeather decided that the same swimming pool water seemed inviting and so she became a proponent of the “six security men” blah blah.

This, in any event, is what SSS has concluded, and considering that she committed a fair amount of study and shoe-leather reporting, it’s fair to give her the benefit of the doubt.

If I hadn’t titled this article “Unreliable Narrators,” I would have gone with “Sadler and Pasetta Did it.”