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Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel stamp

First African American actress to win an Academy Award and attend the award ceremonies. Born: June 10, 1895, Wichita, Kansas. Died: October 26, 1952, California.

The daughter of a Civil War veteran, Hattie McDaniel was born June 10, 1895 in Wichita. She was the thirteenth child of Henry and Susan (Holbert) McDaniel. Hattie's parents were formerly enslaved; her father was a Baptist preacher, her mother sang spirituals in church, and Hattie sang in the choir. Her family also operated a minstrel show and Hattie became a songwriter. The family moved to Colorado in 1900.

After two years at East Denver High School, Hattie entered show business. She received a gold medal from the Woman's Christian Temperance Union for a dramatic recitation of the poem, Convict Joe. By 1925 Hattie was a headliner in vaudeville. During a slow time, she took a job as a maid in a Milwaukee night club and later was a featured performer there.

Hattie moved to Hollywood in 1931 and began to appear in movies and radio programs. She received an Academy Award for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind in 1939, the first African American to win an Oscar and attend the Oscar ceremonies. Hattie made numerous films during her career, her last appearance was in 1949. She died in 1952 in California.

Entry: McDaniel, Hattie

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2009

Date Modified: February 2013

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.