Black Excellence In History: Hattie McDaniel

Actress Hattie McDaniel was born into a family of entertainers on June 10, 1895 in Wichita, Kansas.

In 1910, McDaniel’s family moved to Denver, Colorado where she began to perform in her father’s minstrel troupe. In 1925, she was invited to perform on Denver’s KOA radio station, making her the first African-American woman to sing on the radio in the United States.

After her radio debut, McDaniel moved to Los Angeles where she landed small film roles as housekeepers, as roles for blacks were hard to come by. In 1939, McDaniel landed the role as Mammy, Scarlett O’Hara’s maid in Gone with the Wind. This role would mark the highlight of McDaniel’s career. She earned the 1940 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, becoming the first black actress to win an Oscar.

In 1947, after her acting career started to decline, she returned to radio with a starring role on CBS radio’s The Beulah Show until succumbing to breast cancer on October 26, 1952.

Since her death McDaniel has been awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Source: | Image via Google

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