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Hattie McDaniel, Award Winner – MovieActors.com

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McDaniel in GONE WITH THE WIND.

Hattie McDaniel: Best Supporting Actress 1939: MovieActors.com

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Gone With The Wind (Drama – Rating)

Hattie McDaniel won her Supporting Oscar for playing Scarlett O'Hara's devoted Mammy.




About Hattie McDaniel (1892 – 1952)

Hattie McDaniel was born in Kansas to a Civil War veteran, Henry McDaniel, and church singer, Susan Holbert. She is the sister of actors Etta McDaniel and Samuel McDaniel. Hattie McDaniel broke many color barriers in her career, distinguishing herself as the first African-American to win an Academy Award.

Hattie McDaniel began her entertaining career as a singer and songwriter. In the 20's, she toured as a singer, was a recording artist with Okeh and Paramount Records and was the first African American singer to be heard on the radio.

At one point while touring with a vaudeville show,Hattie was stranded in Chicago, right after the stock market crash, in 1929. She headed up to Milwaukee, where she took a survival job in the mob-owned The Club Madrid Nightclub as the ladies' room matron, as black performers outside of the vaudeville venue were not hired for regular stage performances;It was the dark age for race equality and relations.

Hattie didn't care, and sang anyway as she worked, giving impromtu concerts to the women who came to use the restroom. Her singing talents eventually broke the color barrier in the club, because of her many female fans who urged the club owner, Sam Pick to give her a chance on stage.

Sam Pick was a bit of a societal rebel himself, and agreed. He believed in giving people what they wanted, even if society had said no to people's wishes. She had the honor of being the first person of color to sing on stage in Milwaukee at the Club Madrid, and was well-received by all.

Later criticized by some thick-headed, non-thinking dolts in the 60's for playing servant roles in films; (which were basically the only ones available to her), McDaniel quipped, "I'd rather play a maid than be one."

Hattie McDaniel began her film career by playing a long series of uncredited often maid-type roles. In the 1934, John Ford movie, JUDGE PRIEST, McDaniel sang a duet with Will Rogers. She played the role of Queenie in the film adaptation of the musical SHOWBOAT, singing two songs in the film, with Paul Robeson.

In 1935, she appeared with Shirley Temple and Bill Bo Jangles Robinson in the film, THE LITTLE COLONEL, with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable in SARATOGA; [1937] and with Katherine Hepburn in ALICE ADAMS; [1935], in which she began playing the comic, sassy, opinionated character which became her trademark.

As a result of her outstanding performance in the 1939 classic, GONE WITH THE WIND as "Mammy", a scolding, scoffing, yet lovable slave, Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, breaking her biggest color barrier.

When the film opened in Atlanta Georgia, none of the African American actors in the film were able to attend the world premiere, because of Jim Crow laws which barred them from the whites-only theater. GONE WITH THE WIND swept the Academy Awards, with 10 Oscars.

In 1942, Hattie McDaniel played in the John Huston film, IN THIS OUR LIFE, starring Bette Davis. McDaniel portrayed a mother whose son, a law student, is accused of manslaughter. McDaniel continued working in film through 1949.

She then became a radio star on her comedy series, "The Beulah Show," and broke another color barrier by being the first African-American actress to star in a radio program. She later played the role on television briefly, in 1951, but had to give it up, because her health was failing. She died of breast cancer the following year.

Hattie McDaniel's notable movie credits include...

SHOWBOAT (1936)
NOTHING SACRED (1937)
THE GREAT LIE (1941)
THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS (1943)
MARGIE (1946)
SONG OF THE SOUTH (1946)
FAMILY HONEYMOON (1948)
THE BIG WHEEL (1949)



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Hattie McDaniel in THE GREAT LIE (1941).

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Hattie McDaniel in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939).