- “I’ve played everything
except the harp”
- “I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry”
- “Faith is the black person’s federal reserve system.”
- “In playing the part of Mammy, I tried to make her a living, breathing character, the way she appeared to me in the book.”
Actress, singer-songwriter, and comedienne Hattie McDaniel was the first African American to ever win an Oscar for her role in 1939’s Gone with the Wind. A trailblazer in every sense, she left an undeniable legacy for her work; including receiving two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and credited as the first black artist to sing on radio.
Ms. McDaniel was the first black performer to win the Oscar at the 1940 Academy Awards for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind.
Hattie McDaniel Project
Despite her trailblazing accomplishments and ubiquitous presence, much of the legacy of Oscar-winner Hattie McDaniel is unacceptably unknown. In a bold move and in partnership with some of entertainment’s leading figures, her estate has decided to share her complete story via a documentary series, accompanied by a storyboard/illustrative book, and in an official podcast.
Ms. McDaniel received the National Board of Review “Best Acting” citation for the film, In This Our Life. In 1975 she was posthumously inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2010 the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame in Denver, Colorado. She was also the 29th inductee in the Black Heritage Series by the United States Postal Service on January 25, 2006 at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library in Beverly Hills, CA.
She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. One is located at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to radio and the other at 1719 Vine Street for her contributions to motion pictures.
She participated in over 300 films but was only credited with less than 90 films. Ms. McDaniel was instrumental in sparking the housing laws in the State of California due to her Superior Court victory against housing discrimination. She was also the Chairman of the Victory Committee (Negro Division) that was responsible for entertaining the troops during WWII, while her close friend, Clark Gable, was the Chairman of the Victory Committee (Caucasian Division).
Academy Awards Acceptance Speech by Hattie McDaniel
February 29, 1940; Ambassador Hotel, Cocoanut Grove (banquet)
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science[s], 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 the awards for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything 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.
© Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences