Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1893 – October 26, 1952) was an American stage actress, professional singer-songwriter, and comedian. She is best known for her role as "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Academy Award won by an African American entertainer.
In addition to acting in many films, McDaniel recorded 16 blues sides between 1926-1929 (10 were issued), was a radio performer and television star; she was the first black woman to sing on radio in the United States. She appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only 80 or so.
McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to radio and one at 1719 Vine Street for acting in motion pictures. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.
McDaniel in 1941
|Born||June 10, 1893|
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
|Died||October 26, 1952 (aged 59)|
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery|
|Occupation||Actress, singer-songwriter and comedian|
|Spouse(s)||Howard Hickman (1911) (his death)|
George Langford (1922) (his death)
James Lloyd Crawford (1941–1945) (divorced)
Larry Williams (1949–1950) (divorced)
McDaniel was born to former slaves in Wichita, Kansas. She was the youngest of 13 children. Her mother, Susan Holbert (1850–1920), was a singer of gospel music, and her father, Henry McDaniel (1845–1922), fought in the Civil War with the 122nd United States Colored Troops. In 1900, the family moved to Colorado, living first in Fort Collins and then in Denver, where Hattie attended Denver East High School. Her brother, Sam McDaniel (1886–1962), played the butler in the 1948 Three Stooges' short film Heavenly Daze. Her sister Etta McDaniel was also an actress.
McDaniel was a songwriter as well as a performer. She honed her songwriting skills while working with her brother's minstrel show. After the death of her brother Otis in 1916, the troupe began to lose money, and Hattie did not get her next big break until 1920. From 1920 to 1925, she appeared with Professor George Morrison's Melody Hounds, a black touring ensemble. In the mid-1920s, she embarked on a radio career, singing with the Melody Hounds on station KOA in Denver. From 1926 to 1929, she recorded many of her songs for Okeh Records and Paramount Records in Chicago. McDaniel recorded seven sessions: one in the summer of 1926 on the rare Kansas City label Meritt; four sessions in Chicago for Okeh from late 1926 to late 1927 (of the 10 sides recorded, only four were issued), and two sessions in Chicago for Paramount in March 1929.
After the stock market crashed in 1929, McDaniel could find work only as a washroom attendant and waitress at Club Madrid in Milwaukee. Despite the owner's reluctance to let her perform, she was eventually allowed to take the stage and soon became a regular performer.
In 1931, McDaniel moved to Los Angeles to join her brother and two sisters. When she could not get film work, she took jobs as a maid or cook. Sam was working on a KNX radio program, The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour, and was able to get his sister a spot. She performed on radio as "Hi-Hat Hattie", a bossy maid who often "forgets her place". Her show became popular, but her salary was so low that she had to continue working as a maid.
She made her first film appearance in The Golden West (1932), in which she played a maid. Her second appearance came in the highly successful Mae West film I'm No Angel (1933), in which she played one of the black maids with whom West camped it up backstage. She received several other uncredited film roles in the early 1930s, often singing in choruses.
In 1934, McDaniel joined the Screen Actors Guild. She began to attract attention and landed larger film roles, which began to win her screen credits. Fox Film Corporation put her under contract to appear in The Little Colonel (1935), with Shirley Temple, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson and Lionel Barrymore.
Judge Priest (1934), directed by John Ford and starring Will Rogers, was the first film in which she played a major role. She had a leading part in the film and demonstrated her singing talent, including a duet with Rogers. McDaniel and Rogers became friends during filming.
In 1935, McDaniel had prominent roles, as a slovenly maid in Alice Adams (RKO Pictures); a comic part as Jean Harlow's maid and traveling companion in China Seas (MGM) (McDaniels's first film with Clark Gable); and as the maid Isabella in Murder by Television, with Béla Lugosi. She appeared in the 1938 film Vivacious Lady, starring James Stewart and Ginger Rogers.
McDaniel had a featured role as Queenie in the 1936 film Show Boat (Universal Pictures), starring Allan Jones and Irene Dunne, in which she sang a verse of Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man with Dunne, Helen Morgan, Paul Robeson, and a black chorus. She and Robeson sang "I Still Suits Me", written for the film by Kern and Hammerstein.
After Show Boat, she had major roles in MGM's Saratoga (1937), starring Jean Harlow and Clark Gable; The Shopworn Angel (1938), with Margaret Sullavan; and The Mad Miss Manton (1938), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda. She had a minor role in the Carole Lombard–Frederic March film Nothing Sacred (1937), in which she played the wife of a shoeshine man (Troy Brown) masquerading as a sultan.
McDaniel was a friend of many of Hollywood's most popular stars, including Joan Crawford, Tallulah Bankhead, Bette Davis, Shirley Temple, Henry Fonda, Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland, and Clark Gable. She starred with de Havilland and Gable in Gone with the Wind (1939).
Around this time, she was criticized by members of the black community for the roles she accepted and for pursuing roles aggressively rather than rocking the Hollywood boat. For example, in The Little Colonel (1935), she played one of the black servants longing to return to the Old South, but her portrayal of Malena in RKO Pictures's Alice Adams angered white Southern audiences, because she stole several scenes from the film's white star, Katharine Hepburn. McDaniel ultimately became best known for playing a sassy and opinionated maid.
The competition to win the part of Mammy in Gone with the Wind was almost as fierce as that for Scarlett O'Hara. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt wrote to film producer David O. Selznick to ask that her own maid, Elizabeth McDuffie, be given the part. McDaniel did not think she would be chosen because she had earned her reputation as a comic actress. One source claimed that Clark Gable recommended that the role be given to McDaniel; in any case, she went to her audition dressed in an authentic maid's uniform and won the part.
Upon hearing of the planned film adaptation, the NAACP fought hard to require the film's producer and director to delete racial epithets from the movie (in particular the offensive slur "nigger") and to alter scenes that might be incendiary and that, in their view, were historically inaccurate. Of particular concern was a scene from the novel in which black men attack Scarlett O'Hara, after which the Ku Klux Klan, with its long history of provoking terror on black communities, is presented as a savior. Throughout the South, black men were being lynched based upon false allegations they had harmed white women. That attack scene was altered, and some offensive language was modified, but another epithet, "darkie", remained in the film, and the film's message with respect to slavery remained essentially the same. Consistent with the book, the film's screenplay also referred to poor whites as "white trash", and it ascribed these words equally to characters black and white.
Loew's Grand Theater on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia was selected by the studio as the site for the Friday, December 15, 1939 premiere of Gone with the Wind. Studio head David Selznick asked that McDaniel be permitted to attend, but MGM advised him not to, because of Georgia's segregation laws. Clark Gable threatened to boycott the Atlanta premiere unless McDaniel were allowed to attend, but McDaniel convinced him to attend anyway.
Most of Atlanta's 300,000 citizens crowded the route of the seven-mile (11 km) motorcade that carried the film's other stars and executives from the airport to the Georgian Terrace Hotel, where they stayed. While Jim Crow laws kept McDaniel from the Atlanta premiere, she did attend the film's Hollywood debut on December 28, 1939. Upon Selznick's insistence, her picture was also featured prominently in the program.
For her performance as the house slave who repeatedly scolds her owner's daughter, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), and scoffs at Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), McDaniel won the 1939 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first black American to win an Oscar. She was the first black American to have been nominated. "I loved Mammy," McDaniel said when speaking to the white press about the character. "I think I understood her because my own grandmother worked on a plantation not unlike Tara." Her role in Gone with the Wind had alarmed some whites in the South; there were complaints that in the film she had been too "familiar" with her white owners. At least one writer pointed out that McDaniel's character did not significantly depart from Mammy's persona in Margaret Mitchell's novel, and that in both the film and the book, the much younger Scarlett speaks to Mammy in ways that would be deemed inappropriate for a Southern teenager of that era to speak to a much older white person, and that neither the book nor the film hints of the existence of Mammy's own children (dead or alive), her own family (dead or alive), a real name, or her desires to have anything other than a life at Tara, serving on a slave plantation. Moreover, while Mammy scolds the younger Scarlett, she never crosses Mrs. O'Hara, the more senior white woman in the household. Some critics felt that McDaniel not only accepted the roles but also in her statements to the press acquiesced in Hollywood's stereotypes, providing fuel for critics of those who were fighting for black civil rights. Later, when McDaniel tried to take her "Mammy" character on a road show, black audiences did not prove receptive.
While many blacks were happy over McDaniel's personal victory, they also viewed it as bittersweet. They believed Gone With the Wind celebrated the slave system and condemned the forces that destroyed it. For them, the unique accolade McDaniel had won suggested that only those who did not protest Hollywood's systemic use of racial stereotypes could find work and success there.
The Twelfth Academy Awards took place at the Coconut Grove Restaurant of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was preceded by a banquet in the same room. Louella Parsons, an American gossip columnist, wrote about Oscar night, February 29, 1940:
Hattie McDaniel earned that gold Oscar by her fine performance of 'Mammy' in Gone with the Wind. If you had seen her face when she walked up to the platform and took the gold trophy, you would have had the choke in your voice that all of us had when Hattie, hair trimmed with gardenias, face alight, and dress up to the queen's taste, accepted the honor in one of the finest speeches ever given on the Academy floor.
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting me for one of their awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel, and may I say thank you and God bless you.— From McDaniel's acceptance speech, 12th Annual Academy Awards, February 29, 1940
McDaniel received a plaque-style Oscar, approximately 5.5 inches (14 cm) by 6 inches (15 cm), the type awarded to all Best Supporting Actors and Actresses at that time. She and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table for two at the far wall of the room; her white agent, William Meiklejohn, sat at the same table. The hotel had a strict no-blacks policy, but allowed McDaniel in as a favor.
Gone with the Wind won eight Academy Awards. It was later named by the American Film Institute (AFI) as number four among the top 100 American films of all time in the 1998 ranking and number six in the 2007 ranking.
In the Warner Bros. film In This Our Life (1942), starring Bette Davis and directed by John Huston, McDaniel once again played a domestic, but one who confronts racial issues when her son, a law student, is wrongly accused of manslaughter. McDaniel was in the same studios Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), with Humphrey Bogart and Bette Davis. In its review of the film, Time wrote that McDaniel was comic relief in an otherwise "grim study," writing, "Hattie McDaniel, whose bubbling, blaring good humor more than redeems the roaring bad taste of a Harlem number called Ice Cold Katie". McDaniel continued to play maids during the war years for Warners in The Male Animal (1942) and United Artists' Since You Went Away (1944), but her feistiness was toned down to reflect the era's somber news. She also played the maid in Song of the South (1946) for Disney.
She made her last film appearances in Mickey (1948) and Family Honeymoon (1949), where that same year, she appeared on the live CBS television program The Ed Wynn Show. She remained active on radio and television in her final years, becoming the first black American to star in her own radio show with the comedy series Beulah. She also starred in the ABC television version of the show, replacing Ethel Waters after the first season. (Waters had apparently expressed concerns over stereotypes in the role.) Beulah was a hit, however, and earned McDaniel $2,000 a week. But the show was controversial. In 1951, the United States Army ceased broadcasting Beulah in Asia because troops complained that the show perpetuated negative stereotypes of black men as shiftless and lazy and interfered with the ability of black troops to perform their mission. After filming a handful of episodes, however, McDaniel learned she had breast cancer. By the spring of 1952, she was too ill to work and was replaced by Louise Beavers.
McDaniel was the most famous of the black homeowners who helped to organize the black West Adams neighborhood residents who saved their homes. Loren Miller, an attorney and the owner and publisher of the California Eagle newspaper, represented the minority homeowners in their restrictive covenant case. In 1944, Miller won the case Fairchild v Rainers, a decision in favor of a black family in Pasadena, California, who had bought a nonrestricted lot but was sued by white neighbors anyway.
Time magazine, in its issue of December 17, 1945, reported that:
Spacious, well-kept West Adams Heights still had the complacent look of the days when most of Los Angeles' aristocracy lived there. ...
In 1938, Negroes, willing and able to pay $15,000 and up for Heights property, had begun moving into the old eclectic mansions. Many were movie folk — Actresses Louise Beavers, Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters, etc. They improved their holdings, kept their well-defined ways, quickly won more than tolerance from most of their white neighbors.
But some whites, refusing to be comforted, had referred to the original racial restriction covenant that came with the development of West Adams Heights back in 1902 which restricted "Non-caucasians" from owning property. For seven years they had tried to enforce it, but failed. Then they went to court. ...
Superior Judge Thurmond Clarke decided to visit the disputed ground—popularly known as "Sugar Hill." ... Next morning, ... Judge Clarke threw the case out of court. His reason: "It is time that members of the Negro race are accorded, without reservations or evasions, the full rights guaranteed them under the 14th Amendment to the Federal Constitution. Judges have been avoiding the real issue too long."
Said Hattie McDaniel, of West Adams Heights: "Words cannot express my appreciation."
McDaniel had purchased her white, two-story, seventeen-room house in 1942. The house included a large living room, dining room, drawing room, den, butler's pantry, kitchen, service porch, library, four bedrooms and a basement. McDaniel had a yearly Hollywood party. Everyone knew that the king of Hollywood, Clark Gable, could always be found at McDaniel's parties.
As her fame grew, McDaniel faced growing criticism from some members of the black community. Groups such as the NAACP complained that Hollywood stereotypes not only restricted blacks to servant roles but often portrayed blacks as lazy, dim-witted, satisfied with lowly positions, or violent. In addition to addressing the studios, they called upon actors, and especially leading black actors, to pressure studios to offer more substantive roles and at least not pander to stereotypes. They also argued that these portrayals were unfair as well as inaccurate and that, coupled with segregation and other forms of discrimination, such stereotypes were making it difficult for all blacks, not only actors, to overcome racism and succeed in the entertainment industry. Some attacked McDaniel for being an "Uncle Tom"—a person willing to advance personally by perpetuating racial stereotypes or being an agreeable agent of offensive racial restrictions. McDaniel characterized these challenges as class-based biases against domestics, a claim that white columnists seemed to accept. And she reportedly said, "Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn't, I'd be making $7 a week being one."
McDaniel may also have been criticized because, unlike many other black entertainers, she was not associated with civil rights protests and was largely absent from efforts to establish a commercial base for independent black films. She did not join the Negro Actors Guild of America until 1947, late in her career. McDaniel hired one of the few white agents who would represent black actors at the time, William Meiklejohn, to advance her career. Evidence suggests her avoidance of political controversy was deliberate. When columnist Hedda Hopper sent her Richard Nixon placards and asked McDaniel to distribute them, McDaniel declined, replying she had long ago decided to stay out of politics. "Beulah is everybody's friend," she said. Since she was earning a living honestly, she added, she should not be criticized for accepting such work as was offered. Her critics, especially Walter White of the NAACP, claimed that she and other actors who agreed to portray stereotypes were not a neutral force but rather willing agents of black oppression.
McDaniel and other black actresses and actors feared that their roles would evaporate if the NAACP and other Hollywood critics complained too loudly. She blamed these critics for hindering her career and sought the help of allies of doubtful reputation. After speaking with McDaniel, Hedda Hopper even claimed that McDaniel's career troubles were not the result of racism but had been caused by McDaniel's "own people".
During World War II, she served as chairman of the Negro Division of the Hollywood Victory Committee, providing entertainment for soldiers stationed at military bases. (The military was segregated, and black entertainers were not allowed to serve on white entertainment committees.) She elicited the help of a friend, the actor Leigh Whipper, and other black entertainers for her committee. She made numerous personal appearances at military hospitals, threw parties, and performed at United Service Organizations (USO) shows and war bond rallies to raise funds to support the war on behalf of the Victory Committee. Bette Davis was the only white member of McDaniel's acting troupe to perform for black regiments; Lena Horne and Ethel Waters also participated. McDaniel was also a member of American Women's Voluntary Services.
She joined the actor Clarence Muse, one of the first black members of the Screen Actors Guild, in an NBC radio broadcast to raise funds for Red Cross relief programs for Americans that had been displaced by devastating floods, and she gained a reputation for generosity, lending money to friends and strangers alike.
McDaniel married Howard Hickman on January 19, 1911, in Denver, Colorado. He died in 1915.
Her second husband, George Langford, died of a gunshot wound in January 1925, soon after she married him and while her career was on the rise.
She married James Lloyd Crawford, a real estate salesman, on March 21, 1941, in Tucson, Arizona. According to Donald Bogle, in his book Bright Boulevards, Bold Dreams, McDaniel happily confided to gossip columnist Hedda Hopper in 1945 that she was pregnant. McDaniel began buying baby clothes and set up a nursery in her house. Her plans were shattered when she suffered a false pregnancy and fell into a depression. She never had any children. She divorced Crawford in 1945, after four and a half years of marriage. Crawford had been jealous of her career success, she said. 
She married Larry Williams, an interior decorator, on June 11, 1949, in Yuma, Arizona, but divorced him in 1950 after testifying that their five months together had been marred by "arguing and fussing." McDaniel broke down in tears when she testified that her husband tried to provoke dissension in the cast of her radio show and otherwise interfered with her work. "I haven't gotten over it yet," she said. "I got so I couldn't sleep. I couldn't concentrate on my lines."
In August, 1950, McDaniel suffered a heart ailment and entered Temple Hospital in semi-critical condition. She was released in October to recuperate at home, and she was cited by United Press on Jan. 3, 1951, as showing "slight improvement in her recovery from a mild stroke."
McDaniel died of breast cancer at age 59 on October 26, 1952, in the hospital on the grounds of the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, California. She was survived by her brother Sam McDaniel. Thousands of mourners turned out to celebrate her life and achievements. In her will, McDaniel wrote, "I desire a white casket and a white shroud; white gardenias in my hair and in my hands, together with a white gardenia blanket and a pillow of red roses. I also wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery"; Hollywood Cemetery, on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, is the resting place of movie stars such as Douglas Fairbanks and Rudolph Valentino. Its owner at the time, Jules Roth, refused to allow her to be buried there, because, at the time of McDaniel's death, the cemetery practiced racial segregation and would not accept the remains of black people for burial. Her second choice was Rosedale Cemetery (now known as Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery), where she lies today.
In 1999, Tyler Cassidy, the new owner of the Hollywood Cemetery (renamed the Hollywood Forever Cemetery), offered to have McDaniel re-interred there. Her family did not wish to disturb her remains and declined the offer. Instead, Hollywood Forever Cemetery built a large cenotaph on the lawn overlooking its lake. It is one of Hollywood's most popular tourist attractions.
McDaniel's last will and testament of December 1951 bequeathed her Oscar to Howard University, where she had been honored by the students with a luncheon after she had won her Oscar. At the time of her death, McDaniel would have had few options. Very few white institutions in that day preserved black history. Historically, black colleges had been where such artifacts were placed. Despite evidence McDaniel had earned an excellent income as an actress, her final estate was less than $10,000. The IRS claimed the estate owed more than $11,000 in taxes. In the end, the probate court ordered all of her property, including her Oscar, sold to pay off creditors. Years later, the Oscar turned up where McDaniel wanted it to be: Howard University, where, according to reports, it was displayed in a glass case in the university's drama department.
The whereabouts of McDaniel's Oscar are currently unknown. In 1992, Jet magazine reported that Howard University could not find it and alleged that it had disappeared during protests in the 1960s. In 1998, Howard University stated that it could find no written record of the Oscar having arrived at Howard. In 2007, an article in the The Huffington Post repeated rumors that the Oscar had been cast into the Potomac River by angry civil rights protesters in the 1960s. The assertion reappeared in The Huffington Post under the same byline in 2009.
In 2010, Mo'Nique, the winner of the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress in Precious, wearing a blue dress and gardenias in her hair, as McDaniel had at the ceremony in 1940, in her acceptance speech thanked McDaniel "for enduring all that she had to so that I would not have to". Her speech revived interest in the whereabouts of McDaniel's Oscar. In 2011, J. Freedom duLac reported in The Washington Post that the statuette had disappeared in the 1960s.
In November 2011, W. B. Carter, of the George Washington University Law School, published the results of her year-and-a-half-long investigation into the Oscar's fate. Carter rejected claims that students had stolen the Oscar (and thrown it in the Potomac River) as wild speculation or fabrication that traded on long-perpetuated stereotypes of blacks. She questioned the sourcing of The Huffington Post stories. Instead, she argued that the Oscar was likely returned to Howard University's Channing Pollack Theater Collection between the spring of 1971 and the summer of 1973 or had possibly been boxed and stored in the drama department at that time. The reason for its removal, she argued, was not civil rights unrest but rather efforts to make room for a new generation of black performers. If neither the Oscar nor any paper trail of its ultimate destiny can be found at Howard today, she suggested, inadequate storage or record-keeping in a time of financial constraints and national turbulence may be blamed. She also suggested that a new generation of caretakers may have failed to realize the historic significance of the award.
McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to radio and one at 1719 Vine Street for motion pictures. In 1975, she was inducted posthumously into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.
In 1994, the actress and singer Karla Burns launched her one-woman show Hi-Hat-Hattie (written by Larry Parr), about McDaniel's life. Burns went on to perform the role in several other cities through 2002, including Off-Broadway and the Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre in California.
In 2002, McDaniel's legacy was celebrated in American Movie Classics's (AMC) film Beyond Tara, The Extraordinary Life of Hattie McDaniel (2001), produced and directed by Madison D. Lacy and hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. This one-hour special depicted McDaniel's struggles and triumphs in the presence of rampant racism and brutal adversity. The film won the 2001–2002 Daytime Emmy Award, presented on May 17, 2002, for Outstanding Special Class Special.
McDaniel was the 29th inductee in the Black Heritage Series by the United States Postal Service. Her 39-cent stamp was released on January 29, 2006, featuring a 1941 photograph of McDaniel in the dress she wore to accept the Academy Award in 1940. The ceremony took place at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where the Hattie McDaniel collection includes photographs of McDaniel and other family members as well as scripts and other documents.
In 2004 Rita Dove, the first African-American U.S. poet laureate, published her poem "Hattie McDaniel Arrives at the Coconut Grove" in The New Yorker and has since presented it frequently during her poetry readings as well as on YouTube.
|1941||Gulf Screen Guild Theatre||No Time for Comedy|
Hattie McDaniel recorded infrequently as a singer. In addition to the musical numbers over her long career in films, she recorded for Okeh Records, Paramount, and the small Kansas City, Missouri label Merrit. All of her known recordings (some of which were never issued) were recorded in the 1920s.
|Merrit Records||"Brown-Skinned Baby Doll" / "Quittin' My Man"||06/26||Unissued||Merrit 2202|
|Okeh Records||"I Wish I Had Somebody" /" Boo Hoo Blues"||11/10/26||78 rpm||Okeh 9899/9900|
|"Wonderful Dream/ "Lonely Heart"||11/17/26||Unissued||Okeh W80845/W80846|
|"Sam Henry Blues" / "Poor Boy Blues"||05/10/27||Unissued||Okeh W80852/W80853|
|"I Thought I'd Do It" / "Just One Sorrowing Heart"||12/14/27||78 rpm||Okeh W82061/W82062|
|"Sam Henry Blues" / "Destroyin Blues"||12/14/27||Unissued||Okeh W82063/W82064|
|Paramount Records||"Dentist Chair Blues Part 1" / "Dentist Chair Blues Part 2" (with Papa Charlie Jackson)||03/??/29||78 rpm||Paramount 12751 A/12751 B|
|"That New Love Maker Of Mine" / "Any Kind Of Man Would Be Better Than You"||03/??/29||78 rpm||Paramount 17290|
Hattie McDaniel, movie actress, singer, radio and television personality, and the first African American to win an Academy Award today became the 29th honoree in the U.S. Postal Service's long-running Black Heritage commemorative stamp series
The 12th Academy Awards ceremony, presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS), honored the best in film for 1939. The ceremony was held on February 29, 1940, at a banquet in the Coconut Grove at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was hosted by Bob Hope (in his first of nineteen turns as host).
David O. Selznick's production Gone with the Wind received the most nominations of the year with thirteen. Other films receiving multiple nominations included: Mr. Smith Goes to Washington; Wuthering Heights; Goodbye, Mr. Chips; Stagecoach; Love Affair; The Wizard of Oz; The Rains Came; The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex; Ninotchka; Of Mice and Men; and Dark Victory.
This was the first year in which an Academy Award (also known as an Oscar) was awarded in the category of special effects. (Previously, however, "special achievement" awards for effects had occasionally been conferred.) This was also the first time that two awards for cinematography were presented (one for a color film and another for a black-and-white film).
Hattie McDaniel became the first African-American to receive an Academy Award, winning in the Best Supporting Actress category for Gone with the Wind.African-American representation in Hollywood
The presence of African Americans in major motion picture roles has stirred controversy since Hattie McDaniel played Mammy, the house servant, in Gone with the Wind. "Through most of the 20th century, images of African-Americans in advertising were mainly limited to servants like the pancake-mammy Aunt Jemima and Rastus, the chef on the Cream of Wheat box." The roles the African-American community were generally offered usually fell into three themes; a tale of rags to riches, thug life, or segregation. "Many researchers argue that media portrayals of minorities tend to reflect whites' attitudes toward minorities and, therefore, reveal more about whites themselves than about the varied and lived experiences of minorities". Producing films in the way is what leads to a singular perspective and opinion
(in this case white peoples) to dominate mainstream media.Even in today’s movies the roles for an African-American performer often fall under similar typecast roles, the biggest movie with African-American leads in 2011 was The Help. In the 2012 Academy Awards The Help was nominated for several categories: Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role Octavia Spencer also nominated for the same category was Jessica Chastain, Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Viola Davis, and Best Motion Picture of the Year. The movie walked away with one win for Best Supporting Actress Octavia Spencer, leaving Viola Davis to lose to Meryl Streep, a 20-time nominee and three-time winner. Octavia Spencer was the only African American to win an award that night, which for the Academy Awards is not a rare occasion.
Writing 8 years ago, the NY Times said:
Race in American cinema has rarely been a matter of simple step-by-step progress. It has more often proceeded in fits and starts, with backlashes coming on the heels of breakthroughs, and periods of intense argument followed by uncomfortable silence. Beulah (radio and TV series)
Beulah is an American situation-comedy series that ran on CBS Radio from 1945 to 1954, and on ABC Television from 1950 to 1952. The show is notable for being the first sitcom to star an African American actress. The show was controversial for its caricatures of African Americans.Can This Be Dixie?
Can This Be Dixie? is a 1936 American film featuring child star Jane Withers.
Withers plays Peg Gurgle, who, with her uncle Robert E. Lee Gurgle, runs a traveling musical patent medicine show through the deep south. When they encounter a plantation owner named Colonel Robert E. Lee Peachtree, their luck picks up when the Colonel buys a bottle of their elixir for each one of his plantation field hands. When the sheriff impounds their wagon, the Gurgles stay on with the Colonel and helps defend his mansion against Yankees and bankers.
In 1937 and 1938 Withers became one of the top 10 box-office stars in the United States, despite her status as Fox's second-tier child star (behind Shirley Temple). On a shooting schedule that allowed 21 to 24 days per picture, she acquired the nickname "One-Take Withers", and produced four or five films a year.
The level of comedy can be assessed by the names of the characters, the names of the musical numbers ("Pick, Pick, Pickaninny," "Uncle Tom's Cabin is a Cabaret Now"), and the fact that Withers appeared in blackface. Some even more racially offensive material was challenged by co-star Hattie McDaniel and successfully removed from the picture.China Seas (film)
China Seas is a 1935 American adventure film starring Clark Gable as a brave sea captain, Jean Harlow as his brassy paramour, and Wallace Beery as a suspect character. The oceangoing epic also features Lewis Stone, Rosalind Russell, Akim Tamiroff, and Hattie McDaniel, while humorist Robert Benchley memorably portrays a character reeling drunk from one end of the film to the other.
The lavish MGM epic was written by James Kevin McGuinness and Jules Furthman from the book by Crosbie Garstin, and directed by Tay Garnett. This is one of only four sound films with Beery in which he did not receive top billing.Don't Tell the Wife
Don't Tell the Wife is a 1937 American comedy film directed by Christy Cabanne using a screenplay by Nat Perrin adapted from the play, Once Over Lightly, written by George Holland. The film stars Guy Kibbee, Una Merkel, and Lynne Overman, with Lucille Ball, William Demarest, and Academy Award winner Hattie McDaniel in supporting roles. Produced by RKO Radio Pictures, it premiered in New York City on February 18, 1937, and was released nationwide on March 5.Erna Sellmer
Erna Elisabeth Dorothea Sellmer (June 19, 1905 – May 13, 1983) was a German film actress. She was best known in the English-speaking world for her role as housekeeper Frau Gerber in the 1970s Swiss-Canadian television series George about a St. Bernard dog and its owners. In 1939 Sellmer provided the German language voiceover for Hattie McDaniel in her Academy award-winning role in Gone with the Wind.George Washington Slept Here
George Washington Slept Here is a 1942 comedy film starring Jack Benny, Ann Sheridan, Charles Coburn, Percy Kilbride, and Hattie McDaniel. It was based on the 1940 play of the same name by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, adapted by Everett Freeman, and was directed by William Keighley.
Warner Archives released the film on DVD in November 2013. George Washington Slept Here was in the John Wayne film Operation Pacific (1951) when two American submarines traded films at sea.Hi, Beautiful
Hi, Beautiful is a 1944 American comedy film directed by Leslie Goodwins and written by Dick Irving Hyland. The film stars Martha O'Driscoll, Noah Beery Jr., Hattie McDaniel, Walter Catlett, Tim Ryan, Florence Lake, Grady Sutton, Lou Lubin and Virginia Sale. The film was released on December 18, 1944, by Universal Pictures.Judge Priest
Judge Priest is a 1934 American comedy film starring Will Rogers. The film was directed by John Ford, produced by Sol M. Wurtzel in association with Fox Film, and based on humorist Irvin S. Cobb's character Judge Priest. The picture is set in post-reconstruction Kentucky and the supporting cast features Henry B. Walthall, Hattie McDaniel and Stepin Fetchit. It was remade in 1953 as The Sun Shines Bright.Mickey (1948 film)
Mickey is a 1948 coming-of-age comedy drama film starring Lois Butler, Bill Goodwin, Skip Homeier and Academy Award-winning actress Hattie McDaniel. The film was based on the novel Clementine by Peggy Goodin and was filmed in Cinecolor.Murder by Television
Murder by Television (1935) is an American mystery film starring Bela Lugosi, June Collyer, and Huntley Gordon. The film is also known as The Houghland Murder Case. The cast also includes Hattie McDaniel.Sam McDaniel
Samuel Rufus "Sam" McDaniel (January 28, 1886 – September 24, 1962) was an American actor who appeared in over 210 television shows and films between 1929 and 1950. He was the older brother of actresses Hattie McDaniel and Etta McDaniel.Saratoga (film)
Saratoga is a 1937 American romantic comedy film written by Anita Loos and directed by Jack Conway. The film stars Clark Gable and Jean Harlow in their sixth and final film collaboration, and features Lionel Barrymore, Frank Morgan, Walter Pidgeon, Hattie McDaniel, and Margaret Hamilton.
Jean Harlow died before filming was finished, and it was completed using stand-ins. Saratoga was MGM's biggest moneymaker of 1937.The Big Wheel (film)
The Big Wheel is a 1949 American drama sport film directed by Edward Ludwig starring Mickey Rooney, Thomas Mitchell, Mary Hatcher and Michael O'Shea. It includes the final screen appearance of Hattie McDaniel.
This film is now in the public domain.The Little Colonel (1935 film)
The Little Colonel is a 1935 American comedy drama film directed by David Butler. The screenplay by William M. Conselman was adapted from the children's novel of the same name by Annie Fellows Johnston, originally published in 1895. It focuses on the reconciliation of an estranged father and daughter in the years following the American Civil War. The film stars Shirley Temple, Lionel Barrymore, Evelyn Venable, John Lodge, Bill Robinson, and Hattie McDaniel.
The Little Colonel was the first of four cinematic pairings between Temple and Robinson, and features the duo's famous staircase dance. The film was well received, and, in 2009, was available on videocassette and DVD in both black-and-white and computer-colorized versions.The Shining Hour
The Shining Hour is a 1938 American romantic drama film directed by Frank Borzage, based on the 1934 play
The Shining Hour by Keith Winter, and starring Joan Crawford and Margaret Sullavan. The supporting cast of the MGM film features Robert Young, Melvyn Douglas, Fay Bainter and Hattie McDaniel.Vivacious Lady
Vivacious Lady is a 1938 American black-and-white romantic comedy film directed by George Stevens and starring Ginger Rogers and James Stewart. It was released by RKO Radio Pictures. The screenplay was written by P.J. Wolfson and Ernest Pagano and adapted from a short story by I. A. R. Wylie. The music score was by Roy Webb and the cinematography by Robert De Grasse.
The film features supporting performances by James Ellison, Frances Mercer, Beulah Bondi, Franklin Pangborn, and Charles Coburn, as well as an uncredited appearance by Hattie McDaniel.Zenobia (film)
Zenobia (also known as Elephants Never Forget (UK) and It's Spring Again) is a 1939 comedy film starring Oliver Hardy, Harry Langdon, Billie Burke, Alice Brady, James Ellison, Jean Parker, June Lang, Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel. The source of the film was the 1891 short story Zenobia's Infidelity by H.C. Bunner and was originally purchased by producer Hal Roach as a vehicle for Roland Young