Hattie McDaniel

American actress (1895-1952)

Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1893 – October 26, 1952) was an American actress, singer-songwriter, and comedian. For her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939), she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, becoming the first African American to win an Oscar. She has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975, and in 2006 she became the first Black Oscar winner honored with a U.S. postage stamp. In 2010, she was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame. In addition to acting, McDaniel recorded 16 blues sides between 1926 and 1929 and was a radio performer and television personality; she was the first Black woman to sing on radio in the United States.

Studio publicity Hattie McDaniel in 1939


  • 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.
    • [1] Hattie speak on her funeral in 1952.
  • I’d rather play a maid than be one.
    • Frequent response to criticism she perpetuated a racist stereotype in her roles as a maid.
  • 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.
  • I knew that I could sing and dance...my mother would give me a nickel sometimes to stop.
    • [2] Hattie talk about wanting to be actress since childhood.

Quotes about McDaniel

  • I think she was quite hopeful, and she wanted to share that success with others. She supported family, friends. People talk about how people would just come to her and she'd give out the money she had, so she's quite generous in that way.
    • [3] Watts told NPR about the actress in 2005.
  • She’s an artist who’s been resisting white domination with performance — up until she becomes involved in white show business.
    • [4] historian Jill Watts describe the actress in 2018.
  • They didn’t even let her in the theater until right before she got that award. Someone came outside and brought her into the auditorium. She wasn’t even allowed to sit in there.
    • [5] Queen latifah narrate the ordeal the actress went through when she wanted to collect oscar award.
  • She had hoped for a breakthrough role and she told the press that she anticipated one coming, but it wasn’t forthcoming at all. And then on top of it, it traps her kind of in between white Hollywood and then the African-American community. She’s constantly kind of battling that, looking for a balance, to continue to serve the community but at the same time to serve her ambitions, which is to succeed in white Hollywood, and the cost is tremendous. It’s a tremendous personal price she has to pay.
    • [6] Watts speak on the actress ambitions in 2018.
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