For day 5 of Black History Month, I would like to turn your attention to the first African American to win an Oscar in 1940 for her role in Gone With the Wind.
Hattie McDaniel was born in Wichita, KS on June 10, 1893. She was the 13th child. McDaniel and her family moved to Denver, CO. in 1901. She attended the 24th Street Elementary school and was one of the only two black students in her class.
She gained popularity in school from her singing. She started professionally singing and dancing in high school. She decided to drop out of school in 1909 to focus on her career. She was married in 1911, started an all ladies minstrel show and began working in radio.
McDaniel earned her first small film role in 1931 as an extra in a musical. A year later, she was featured as a housekeeper in the Golden West. Movie roles were hard to come by so she had no choice but to take on odd jobs to support herself.
McDaniel returned to radio due to not finding a movie role. She took over the starring role on the Beulah Show in 1947. In 1951, she started filming a television version of the Beulah Show.
She faced controversy for her role in The Little Colonel. She was attacked by the black media because some of them felt that her role was negative and stereotypical. She was often criticized for the slave and servant roles.
McDaniel had to step away from her career after being diagnosed with breast cancer and suffering a heart attack. She passed away on October 26, 1952. After her passing, she was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and was introduced into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975.
For more information on Hattie McDaniel visit: https://www.biography.com/people/hattie-mcdaniel-38433