GONE WITH THE WIND
“Hattie McDaniel is best remembered today for her role in the film Gone With The Wind. She won the 1939 Academy Award for best-supporting actress for her portrayal of Mammy. She was the first African-American to be nominated for, and to win, an Academy Award. Hattie got her start in show business with her family’s traveling Baptist tent show. As a teenager, Hattie performed in the touring vaudeville outfit the Spikes Brothers Comedy Stars on the West Coast. In the early 1920s, she was singing with George Morrison’s Orchestra in Denver and toured the Pantages and Orpheum vaudeville circuit with them. She made her recording debut in 1926 but never had much of a recording career, but she was a popular live act. As the Blues craze died out in the late 1920s, Hattie started appearing in theatrical productions. She was in the touring company of Showboat from 1929 to 1930. In the early 1930s, she settled in Hollywood and began her career as a film actress. She was almost always cast as a maid, cook, nanny, or servant of some sort, these being the only types of roles available for African-Americans at the time. She appeared in over seventy movies during the 1930s.”
Hattie McDaniel in a rare TV appearance on The Ed Wynn Show. "For better or worse, she was best known at the time for her radio-sitcom "Beulah" (thus becoming the first African-American actress to star in her own radio-comedy, in which she played a Maid who ended up fixing the troubles of her white employers), and as such plays the character here. Somewhat unexpectedly, she sings a song in this 6-minute appearance."
After winning the Academy Award in 1940 she continued to be cast as the maid for the rest of her life. She famously quipped “I’d rather make $700 a week playing a maid than earn $7 a day being a maid.” Despite the poor quality of her roles Hattie continued to open doors that had previously been closed to African-American performers. In 1947, she starred on the radio in The Beulah Show. In 1951, the show moved to television, and Hattie starred in the first three episodes until she discovered she had cancer and became too ill to continue working.”
Ms. Beavers and Ms. McDaniel, two groundbreaking African American actresses who managed to have Hollywood careers in an age of seen-but-not-heard racism. They must have competed for the same roles (cook, maid, mammy). Louise got the more substantial roles, Hattie won the Oscar.
“When she signed to play the role of Mammy in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939), Hattie was put under personal contract to producer David O. Selznick, alongside the likes of Swedish actress Ingrid Bergman and British director Alfred Hitchcock, both recent arrivals to Hollywood. Selznick had championed the campaign to win Hattie her Academy Award and was determined to see her play roles more befitting her new status as an Oscar-winner. The producer was soon frustrated at the lack of prestigious opportunities for his newest contract player, however. Starring vehicles for black actors among major studio productions at the time were virtually non-existent, and Selznick eventually conceded to allowing Hattie to return to the servant roles that had made her famous. Through a special shared-contract arrangement between Selznick andWarner Bros., Hattie played Bette Davis‘ protective housemaid in THE GREAT LIE (1941), and Olivia de Havilland‘s loyal (and charmingly superstitious) southern maid Callie in THEY DIED WITH THEIR BOOTS ON (right), de Havilland‘s eighth and final co-starring vehicle with Errol Flynn. Hattie received co-star billing below the title and ample screen time in both films.”
Hattie McDaniel and Clark Gable, aka Mammy and Rhett Butler…The Atlanta premiere of Gone with the Wind was marred by the absence of Hattie McDaniel and other Black cast members, who were banned due to Georgia’s Jim Crow laws. An angry Clark Gable was on the brink of boycotting, but his friend McDaniel reportedly persuaded him to attend.