June 10: Happy Birthday to Legendary Entertainer, Hattie McDaniel

0 Posted by - August 20, 2021 - Birthdays, Black History, BLACK WOMEN, History, LATEST POSTS


Hattie McDaniel was an actress. She was the 1st African American to win an Academy Award. She won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939).

In addition to acting in many films, McDaniel was a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer, and television star; she was the 1st black woman to sing on the radio in America.

During her career, McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only 80 or so. McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to radio and one at 1719 Vine Street for acting in motion pictures. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the 1st black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.

The whereabouts of the McDaniel Oscar are currently unknown. In 1992, Jet Magazine ran a story reporting that Howard University could not find it and alleged that it had disappeared in the 1960s during the protests.

In 1998, Howard University stated that it could find no written record of the Oscar having arrived at Howard.

In 2007, an article in the Huffington Post repeated rumors that the Oscar had been cast into the Potomac River by angry civil rights protesters in the 1960s. The assertion reappeared in the Huffington Post under the same byline in 2009.

In 2010, attention focused on the McDaniel Oscar again. In her acceptance speech, Best Supporting Actress winner Mo’Nique paid tribute to McDaniel by wearing the blue dress with gardenias in her hair that McDaniel had worn to the ceremony in 1940.

In 2011, J. Freedom duLac of The Washington Postagain reported that the plaque had disappeared during the ’60s.

In November 2011, Prof. W. B. Carter of the George Washington University Law School published the results of her year-and-a-half-long investigation into the Oscar’s fate. Professor Carter rejected claims that students had stolen the Oscar (and/or thrown it in the Potomac River) as wild speculation or pure fabrication that traded on long-perpetuated stereotypes of blacks. She questioned the sourcing of the Huffington Post stories. Instead, she argued that the Oscar was likely returned to Howard University’s Channing Pollack Theater Collection between the spring of 1971 and the summer of 1973 or had possibly been boxed and stored in the drama department at that time. The reason for its removal, she argued, was not civil rights unrest but rather efforts to make room for a new generation of black performers. If neither the Oscar nor any paper trail of its ultimate destiny can be found at Howard today, she suggested, inadequate storage and/or record-keeping in a time of financial constraints and national turbulence may be blamed. She also suggested that a new generation of caretakers may have failed to realize the historic significance of the 5 1/2″ x 6″ plaque.

?McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard for her contributions to radio and one at 1719 Vine Street for motion pictures.
?In 1975, she was inducted posthumously into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame.

?In 1994, actress and singer Karla Burns launched her one-woman show, Hi-Hat-Hattie (written by Larry Parr), about McDaniel’s life. Burns went on to perform the role in several other cities through 2002, including Off-Broadway and the Long Beach Playhouse Studio Theatre in California.

?In 2002, Hattie McDaniel’s legacy was celebrated in American Movie Classics’s (AMC) film Beyond Tara, The Extraordinary Life Of Hattie McDaniel (2001), produced and directed by Madison D. Lacy, Ph.D., and hosted by Whoopi Goldberg. This one-hour special depicted McDaniel’s struggles and triumphs in the presence of rampant racism and brutal adversity. The film won the 2001–2002 Daytime Emmy Award, presented on May 17, 2002, for Outstanding Special Class Special.

?McDaniel was the 29th inductee in the Black Heritage Series by the United States Postal Service. Her 39-cent stamp was released on January 29, 2006, featuring a 1941 photograph of McDaniel in the dress she wore to accept the Academy Award in 1940. The ceremony took place at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where the Hattie McDaniel collection includes photographs of McDaniel and other family members as well as scripts and other documents.

?Rapper Nas pays tribute to McDaniel in his song, “Blunt Ashes,” from his eighth studio album, released December 15, 2006.

?”Hattie McDaniel Day” was celebrated August 16, 2011, by the national GLBT radio station Sirius OUTQ 108 on the Frank Decaro Show.

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