Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10th, 1893 in Wichita, Kansas. Hattie was her parents’ 13th child! Hattie’s family moved to Denver in 1901, where attended the 24th Street Elementary School. She was one of the only two black students in her class. She grew popular by her classmates when it became clear she was a natural when it came to singing.
In high school, McDaniel began professionally singing, dancing, and performing skits. It was in 1909 when she decided to drop out of school to pursue her career.
In 1902, McDaniel worked with Professor George Morrison’s orchestra and toured for several years. She was later invited to perform on Denver’s KOA radio station. Hattie decided it was time to pursue the Hollywood dream after being convinced by her brother, Sam and sister, Etta. She moved to Los Angeles and had a chance to appear on her brother’s radio show called, The Optimistic Do-Nuts. She quickly made a name for herself!
In 1931, Hattie landed her first small film role as an extra in a Hollywood musical. She continued to land parts here and there during a time where it was difficult for black actors to land roles. In 1934, Hattie landed a major role singing with the duet, Will Rogers in the film, Judge Priest. One year later, she starred opposite Shirley Temple and Lionel Barrymore in The Little Colonel. This gained the attention of many Hollywood directors!
The year 1939 came and it marked the highlight of Hattie McDaniel’s entertainment career. Hattie portrayed Mammy, a house servant in Gone with the Wind. In 1940, Hattie McDaniel became the first African American woman to win an Oscar. She was honored with the 1940 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.
Though we still celebrate Hattie’s accomplishment to this day, many people still don’t know that Hattie and the rest of the film’s black actors were barred from attending the film’s premiere in 1939 at the Loew’s Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1951, McDaniel began filming her the television version of The Beulah Show. Unfortunately, she suffered from a heart attack around that time and soon left her career after being diagnosed with breast cancer.
On October 26th, 1952, Hattie McDaniel lost her battle with breast cancer.
“I did my best, and God did the rest.” – Hattie McDaniel
All information obtained on: Biography