The first African American
to be honored with an Academy Award
. MacDaniel won the award for best supporting actress for her role as "Mammie" in Gone With the Wind
. Although the role was sterotypical in nature and MacDaniel was criticized by the Black community for taking the part, she still managed to infuse some level of dignity
in the role that made her memorable with audiences. She was once quoted as saying, "I'd rather play a maid than be one." It was said that GWTW co-star and co-nominee Olivia de Havilland was so insulted that a black woman was nominated in the same category as she, that she burst into tears when Hattie won.
Hattie was born in 1895 and raised in Denver. It was there
that she discovered her talent for comedy and performing. She left school to join a travelling minstrel act in 1910. When work dried up for road show during the Great Depression, Hattie worked at a supper club and later found woek as a bit-player on a radio show.
Her first film break came in 1932's Judge Priest where she sang a duet with notorious racist and American hero, Will Rogers. She continued to work in films, playing maids in over 40 features.
After awhile, Hattie grew tired of the roles she was being offered and lobbied to have stereotype roles ended. Her work dropped off substancially because of her stand. In 1947, she agreed to star in a national radio show becoming the first African American woman to star in such a show. Unfortunately, soon after production began, Hattie had a heart attack and soon after died of breast cancer.