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Hattie McDaniel ACTOR


Hattie McDaniel was born in Wichita, Kansas, on June 10, 1895.  The youngest of thirteen children, Hattie grew up in Colorado, where the family had moved in 1900.  Of the thirteen children, Hattie and two others, Sam (1886-1962) and Etta, would grow up to be actors.

A singer and songwriter, Hattie’s first performances were with her father’s minstrel show.  In 1920 she began appearing with Professor George Morrison’s “Melony [sic] Hounds”, a touring black performing ensemble, and in the mid-1920’s she could be heard singing with the Melony Hounds on the radio at station KOA in Denver.  She also recorded her songs on Okeh Records and Paramount Records in Chicago, beginning in 1927.

Unable to make a living by performing, Hattie worked at Club Madrid in Milwaukee as a washroom attendant and waitress, where the owner eventually allowed her to sing on stage.

Three of Hattie’s siblings had moved to Los Angeles, and in 1931 Hattie joined them there, hoping to find work in entertainment.  When she could not, she earned her living as a maid or cook.

Her brother Sam was working on a radio program called ‘The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour’ on KNX radio and it was there that she began appearing on radio, and where her ‘Hi-Hat Hattie’ character was born.  Hattie McDaniel was the first black woman to sing on the radio in America.  Even though the character and the program were popular, Hattie had to supplement her income by continuing to work as a maid.

Finally, in 1932, she was given her first role on film, appearing in “The Golden West” and then in Mae West’s “I’m No Angel” in 1933, playing a maid in both films.  Although she appeared in several other films in those early days, acting and singing, her roles were often uncredited.

1934 was a big year for McDaniel: she joined the Screen Actors Guild (SAG); she landed her first major role in a film in “Judge Priest”, starring Will Rogers and directed by John Ford; and was signed to a contract with Fox Film Corporation for her to appear in “The Little Colonel” (released in 1935) with Shirley Temple, Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson, and Lionel Barrymore.  Her increased recognition earned her further roles in 1935 in RKO’s “Alice Adams”, and a comic part in MGM’s “China Seas”, her first film with Clark Gable.

It seemed her career was launched, and she soon appeared in a series of films such as: “Show Boat” (1936), where she had a featured role and sang with Irene Dunne, Helen Morgan, Paul Robeson and the African-American Chorus; in “Saratoga” (1937) with Jean Harlow and Clark Gable; and “The Mad Miss Manton” (1938) with Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.

Unfortunately, her roles portraying maids (sometimes with a sassy attitude), earned her criticism from African-Americans because of the roles (thought to be demeaning) she was accepting, and from white Southern audiences because of the “attitude”.  Later, when she was criticized by the NAACP, she replied, “I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be one for $7."

Although she did not expect to get the role, because of her reputation as a comedic actress, she won the role she is best remembered for, as ‘Mammy’ in “Gone with the Wind” (1939) starring alongside such stars as Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, George Reeves, Thomas Mitchell, Ann Rutherford, Rand Brooks and Butterfly McQueen.  The competition for the role was fierce, and one of the reasons she was given the role was because, based on their friendship and his respect for her talent, Clark Gable recommended her.  Sadly, Hattie McDaniel was not allowed to attend the December 15th premiere of the movie in Georgia because of their segregationist laws, but she did attend the Hollywood debut of the film on December 28, 1939.  Hattie McDaniel won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first African-American to be nominated or to win.

McDaniel continued to earn roles during the pre-war and war years in films like “This is Our Life” (1942) with Bette Davis, “Thank Your Lucky Stars” (1943) with Humphrey Bogart, and “Since You Went Away” (1944) with Claudette Colbert and Joseph Cotten.

Hattie McDaniel was the star on “The Beulah Show” on CBS radio from 1947 until 1952.  She was the first African-American woman to star on a radio program.  In the earliest years of the program (originally called “Hometown Incorporated") the part of Beulah was played by Marlin Hurt, a white actor.  When Hattie took over the role the rating for the program doubled.  She would replace Ethel Waters in the role of Beulah when the show was adapted for television by ABC, but only appeared in six episodes of the second season before she became too ill to continue.

Hattie McDaniel’s last big-screen appearances were in “Mickey” (1948) with Lois Butler and Bill Goodwin, and “Family Honeymoon” (1949) with Fred MacMurray and Claudette Colbert.

It is estimated that Hattie McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, but was given screen credit for only about 80 of them.  She was a well-respected member of the entertainment industry, and well–liked for her charm and generosity.

She has been honored with two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame: one for radio; and one for motion pictures.  She was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame in 1975, and is the first black Oscar winner to be commemorated on a United States postage stamp.

Hattie McDaniel died at the age of 57 on October 26, 1952 in Woodland Hills, California.



1932              The Golden West

1932              Love Bound

1932              Impatient Maiden

1932              Are You Listening?

1932              The Washington Masquerade

1932              The Boiling Point

1932              Crooner

1932              Blonde Venus

1932              Hypnotized

1933              Hello, Sister

1933              I'm No Angel

1934              Merry Wives of Reno

1934              Operator 13

1934              King Kelly of the U.S.A.

1934              Judge Priest

1934              Flirtation

1934              Lost in the Stratosphere

1934              Babbitt

1934              Little Men

1935              The Little Colonel

1935              Transient Lady

1935              Traveling Saleslady

1935              China Seas

1935              Alice Adams

1935              Murder by Television

1935              Harmony Lane

1935              Music Is Magic

1935              Another Face

1935              We're Only Human

1936              Can This Be Dixie?

1936              Next Time We Love

1936              The First Baby

1936              The Singing Kid

1936              Gentle Julia

1936              Show Boat

1936              High Tension

1936              The Bride Walks Out

1936              Postal Inspector

1936              Star for a Night

1936              Valiant Is the Word for Carrie

1936              Libeled Lady

1936              Reunion

1937              Mississippi Moods

1937              Racing Lady

1937              Don't Tell the Wife

1937              The Crime Nobody Saw

1937              The Wildcatter

1937              Saratoga

1937              Stella Dallas

1937              Sky Racket

1937              Over the Goal

1937              Merry Go Round of 1938

1937              Nothing Sacred

1937              45 Fathers

1937              Quick Money

1937              True Confession

1938              Battle of Broadway

1938              Vivacious Lady

1938              The Shopworn Angel

1938              Carefree

1938              The Mad Miss Manton

1938              The Shining Hour

1939              Everybody's Baby

1939              Zenobia

1939              Gone with the Wind

1940              Maryland

1941              The Great Lie

1941              Affectionately Yours

1941              They Died with Their Boots On

1942              The Male Animal

1942              In This Our Life

1942              George Washington Slept Here

1943              Johnny Come Lately

1943              Thank Your Lucky Stars

1944              Since You Went Away

1944              Janie

1944              Three Is a Family

1944              Hi, Beautiful

1946              Janie Gets Married

1946              Margie

1946              Never Say Goodbye

1946              Song of the South

1947              The Flame

1948              Mickey

1949              Family Honeymoon

1949              The Big Wheel

Short subjects

1934              Mickey's Rescue

1934              Fate's Fathead

1934              The Chases of Pimple Street

1935              Anniversary Trouble

1935              Okay Toots!

1935              Wig-Wag

1935              The Four Star Boarder

1936              Arbor Day


1926              Station KOA, Denver, Melony Hounds

1931              Station KNX, Los Angeles, The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour

1947              CBS Network, The Beulah Show

Matinee Classics - Gone With The Wind starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard, Olivia de Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Evelyn Keyes, Ann Rutherford, Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson, Ward Bond, Yakima Canutt, Cliff Edwards, Rand Brooks and George Reeves
Matinee Classics - Beulah Radio Show starring Hattie McDaniel
Matinee Classics - Since You Went Away starring Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Shirley Temple, Monty Woolley,  Lionel Barrymore, Robert Walker, Hattie McDaniel, Agnes Moorehead, Nazimova, Albert Bassermann, Gordon Oliver, Keenan Wynn, Guy Madison, Craig Stevens, Lloyd Corrigan and Jackie Moran
Matinee Classics - Gone With The Wind starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia De Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Rand Brooks, George Reeves and Leslie Howard
Matinee Classics - Gone With The Wind starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia De Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Rand Brooks, George Reeves and Leslie Howard
Matinee Classics - Gone With The Wind starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Olivia De Havilland, Thomas Mitchell, Hattie McDaniel, Rand Brooks, George Reeves and Leslie Howard
Matinee Classics - Judge Priest starring Will Rogers, Tom Brown, Anita Louise, Henry B. Walthall, Stepin Fetchit and Hattie McDaniel
Matinee Classics - The Big Wheel starring Mickey Rooney, Thomas Mitchell, Mary Hatcher, Michael O'Shea, Spring Byington, Hattie McDaniel, Steve Brodie, Lina Romay, Allen Jenkins and Dick Lane
Matinee Classics - Mickey starring Lois Butler, Bill Goodwin, Irene Hervey, John Sutton, Hattie McDaniel, Skip Homeier, Beverly Wills, Rose Hobart and Leon Tyler
Matinee Classics - Johnny Come Lately starring James Cagney, Grace George, Marjorie Main, Hattie McDaniel, Marjorie Lord, Edward McNamara, Bill Henry and Robert Barrat

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