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Roanne Edwards

Hattie McDaniel appeared in more than 300 films and, despite her considerable talent, was limited to mainly housemaid roles, as were the majority of black actresses of the 1930s and 1940s, including Louise Beavers, Ethel Waters, and Lillian Randolph. Although McDaniel's housemaid roles often exemplified the Racial Stereotypes that blacks abhorred, she transformed many of these roles into sassy, independent-minded characters. In a Hollywood that enshrined white stars at the expense of black performers, she became the first black ever to win an Academy Award—as Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mammy in the 1939 film Gone with the Wind.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, Hattie McDaniel grew up in Denver, Colorado, the thirteenth child of Baptist preacher Henry McDaniel and church singer Susan Holbert McDaniel Hattie s talents for singing and drama were apparent from an early age Encouraged by a teacher she ...


Steven J. Niven

film actress and singer, was born in Wichita, Kansas, the youngest daughter of Henry McDaniel, an itinerant preacher, carpenter, and entertainer, and Susan Holbert. The McDaniels moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1901, where Hattie enjoyed a more settled childhood than her seven older siblings had. Five other children had died in infancy. At home, at school, and at church, McDaniel sang spirituals and recited passages from the Bible. Usually she enchanted, though not always. She later recalled: “My mother would say, ‘Hattie, I'll pay you to hush,’ and she'd give me a dime. But in a few minutes I'd be singing and shouting again” (Jackson, 9). By 1910 McDaniel was already an accomplished singer and dancer, appearing in several minstrel shows in Denver. She later toured with her father and her brothers Sam and Otis in the Henry McDaniel Minstrel Show a troupe popular throughout ...


Monique M. Chism

A woman of strong character, committed to the uplift of the black community, and willing to fight for the causes she believed in, Hattie McDaniel is best remembered for her Academy Award-winning performance as Mammy in the 1939 production of Gone With the Wind McDaniel was the first African American to win this distinguished honor in fact her career included many notable firsts in vaudeville radio and film In many respects her life exemplified the burden an individual is faced with when called upon to represent an entire race of people While McDaniel was celebrated for her Hollywood success she was just as often criticized for taking roles that perpetuated racist stereotypes of African Americans Although her portrayal as subservient maids may have infuriated some black activists she knew how to pick her battles and contributed to the fight for equal rights on many fronts often without public recognition ...


Barry Kernfeld

vaudeville singer, was born Irene Gibbons in St. Louis, Missouri, the daughter of Frank Gibbons and Julia Evans. Her father died when she was fifteen months old and her mother had difficulty providing for her, and so her career in show business began as a toddler, dancing and singing with Josephine Gassman and her Pickaninnies, a vaudeville act headed by a former opera singer. In this capacity she toured America annually and also visited Hawaii, Australia, and New Zealand from around 1904 to 1906, Europe in 1906, and Australia again from 1914 to 1915.

Gibbons met the songwriter and publisher Clarence Williams while performing in Chicago. Married in New York in 1921, they had three children; their daughter Joy, using the stage name Irene Williams, later became an actress and singer, touring in Porgy and Bess Having grown too old ...