Black history fact #26
Hattie McDaniel (1895 - 1952) was an actress, singer, and radio performer. She is the first black actor to win an Academy Award. In 1940, McDaniel won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for role as Mammy in the film "Gone with the Wind." She began singing at an early age. In high school, she started performing professionally as part of the The Mighty Minstrels. She eventually dropped out of school to focus on her performing career. At the urging of her brother and sister, McDaniel moved to Los Angeles in the early 1930s and started getting minor film roles. In 1935, she got the part of Mom Beck in "The Little Colonel," starring opposite Shirley Temple. This part was an important landmark in McDaniel's film career, as it gained her the attention of Hollywood directors and a steady stream of movie role offers. In 1939, McDaniel appeared in her award-winning role of Mammy in "Gone with the Wind." Ironically, all of the black actors in the film, including McDaniel, were barred from attending the film's 1939 premiere in Atlanta, Georgia. When her acting career started to decline, she moved to radio and took a starring role on CBS Radio's "The Beulah Show" in 1947. After her death in 1952 from breast cancer, McDaniel has been awarded posthumously two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame (in 1975), and honored with a commemorative stamp by the US Postal Service (in 2006).