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Hattie McDaniel Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (4) | Trade Mark (1) | Trivia (29) | Personal Quotes (3) | Salary (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 10 June 1892Wichita, Kansas, USA
Date of Death 26 October 1952Woodland Hills, California, USA  (breast cancer)
Nicknames Hi-Hat Hattie
The Colored Sophie Tucker
Mamie
Height 5' 2" (1.57 m)

Mini Bio (1)

After working as early as the 1910s as a band vocalist, Hattie McDaniel debuted as a maid in The Golden West (1932). Her maid-mammy characters became steadily more assertive, showing up first in Judge Priest (1934) and becoming pronounced in Alice Adams (1935). In this one, directed by George Stevens and aided and abetted by star Katharine Hepburn, she makes it clear she has little use for her employers' pretentious status seeking. By The Mad Miss Manton (1938) she actually tells off her socialite employer Barbara Stanwyck and her snooty friends. This path extends into the greatest role of her career, Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939). Here she is, in a number of ways, superior to most of the white folk surrounding her. From that point here roles unfortunately descended, with her characters becoming more and more menial. She played on the "Amos and Andy" and Eddie Cantor radio shows in the 1930s and 1940s; the title in her own radio show "Beulah" (1947-51), and the same part on TV (Beulah (1950)). Her part in Gone with the Wind (1939) won her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress, the first black to win an Academy Award.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (4)

Larry Williams (1949 - 1950) (divorced)
James Lloyd Crawford (1941 - 1945) (divorced)
Nym Lankfard (1922 - 1938) (divorced)
Howard Hickman (11 January 1911 - 15 March 1915) (his death)

Trade Mark (1)

Frequently played "maid" characters

Trivia (29)

Arguably the first African-American woman to sing on radio (1915, with Professor George Morrison's Negro Orchestra, Denver, CO); first African-American to be buried in Los Angeles' Rosedale Cemetery
The human "Mammy" character in the Tom+Jerry Cartoons was based on her. This human supporting character was best remembered for shouting "THOMAS" very loudly.
Was the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She won as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939). She became the first African-American to attend the Academy Awards as a guest, not a servant.
47 years after her death, has been memorialized by a pink-and-gray granite monument at Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Her wish to be buried in Hollywood at her death in 1952 was denied amid the racism of the era.
Sister of Sam McDaniel.
Sister of actress Etta McDaniel.
She willed her Oscar to Howard University, but the Oscar was lost during the race riots at Howard during the 1960s. It has never been found.
Her father was a slave, who was eventually freed.
When the date of the Atlanta premiere of Gone with the Wind (1939) approached, McDaniel told director Victor Fleming she would not be able to make it, when in actuality she did not want to cause trouble due to the virulent racism that was rampant in Atlanta at the time.
Despite the fact Clark Gable played a joke on her during the filming of Gone with the Wind (1939) (he put real brandy in the decanter instead of iced tea during the Bonnie Blue birth celebration scene), McDaniel and Gable were actually good friends. Gable later threatened to boycott the premiere in Atlanta because McDaniel was not invited, but later relented when she convinced him to go.
Is a honorary member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated
Lived in a middle class African American section of Los Angeles coined "Sugar Hill".
Pictured on a USA 39¢ commemorative postage stamp in the Black Heritage series, issued 25 January 2006.
Despite her substantial salaries for her various roles, her estate was valued at less than $10,000 when her will was made public. She left her last husband, Larry Williams, only $1.
Her Academy Award was presented by Fay Bainter.
McDaniel and Louise Beavers, both of whom played the title character Beulah (1950) in the 1950s TV series, died ten years apart on October 26th.
Is one of 6 African-American actresses to receive the Academy Award. The others, in chronological order, are Whoopi Goldberg for Ghost (1990), Halle Berry for Monster's Ball (2001), Jennifer Hudson for Dreamgirls (2006), Mo'Nique for Precious (2009) and Octavia Spencer for The Help (2011).
She was awarded 2 Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard and for Motion Pictures at 1719 Vine Street in Hollywood, California.
She had a one-time intimate affair with actress Tallulah Bankhead, according to chronicler of the Hollywood underground Kenneth Anger.
Profiled in book "Funny Ladies" by Stephen Silverman.
Was referenced in both George Clooney and Mo'Nique's Oscar acceptance speeches.
Although her gravestone at Rosedale Cemetery in Los Angeles and her memorial cenotaph at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery show 1895 as her year of birth, Kansas census records for her household dated March 1st, 1895 show her age as 2, confirming that the year on her funerary markers is incorrect.
When black actors and actresses couldn't find a decent place to stay in Los Angeles, Hattie opened her doors to them at her home.
Hattie's controversial career was examined in the AMC-TV documentary "Beyond Tara, the Extrordinatary Life of Hattie McDaniel" hosted by Whoopi Goldberg.
A huge vaudeville star in her day as a singer and dancer.
A popular favorite as radio's "Beulah," Hattie starred in only one TV episode of Beulah (1950) when it was transferred to the small screen due to her diagnosis of breast cancer. It was rumored there was another episode but, if there ever was one, it was never found. Ethel Waters took over the "Beulah" role and reportedly hated the job.
Attacked by the NAACP during her career for appearing in negative, stereotyped servile roles, Hattie strongly and proudly stated that she did the best she could. She went on to state that she worked not only for herself but thought she was working for future generations of African-Americans as well. She always hoped people would come around and understand what she had to go through in Hollywood and was extremely hurt at the way she was treated, for the roles she couldn't get, and how the NAACP kept pushing the image of Lena Horne on her.
Was the 13th actress to receive an Academy Award; she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Gone with the Wind (1939) at The 12th Academy Awards on February 29, 1940.
Biography in "Actresses of a Certain Character: Forty Familiar Hollywood Faces from the Thirties to the Fifties" by Axel Nissen.

Personal Quotes (3)

I'd rather play a maid than be one.
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.
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. [Her acceptance speech upon winning the Oscar for "Gone With the Wind"]

Salary (1)

Gone with the Wind (1939) $1,000 a week

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