You may know the name Hattie McDaniel from her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. McDaniel’s performance was so memorable that she won an Oscar for “Best Supporting Actress” for it in 1940 — making her the first Black woman to win an Oscar. McDaniel, the daughter of freed slaves, has an incredible life story that needs to be told. Before entering Hollywood, she was a renowned vaudeville performer. And on top of that, she was also one of the first Black women to be on the radio.
Now, Hattie McDaniel is getting her own biopic, and deservedly so. Variety reports that it will be produced by Alysia Allen and Aaron Magnani. Allen acquired the film rights to Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, a biography by Jill Watts. Magnani will produce the biopic with Allen.
When Hattie McDaniel won her Oscar, she was 44 years old. The 12th Academy Awards ceremony was held at the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Los Angeles. Due to segregation at the time, the hotel had a no-Blacks policy, but McDaniel was allowed inside thanks to producer David O. Selznick, who “had to call in a special favor,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Here’s Hattie McDaniel with her Academy Award.
However, though McDaniel was allowed inside the awards ceremony, she wasn’t allowed to sit at the Gone with the Wind table with Selznick, Vivien Leigh, and Clark Gable, the latter both nominated for the film, too. Instead, McDaniel was led to a table against a far wall, according to THR. There, she sat with her escort, F.P. Yober, and her agent, William Meiklejohn.
Here’s Hattie McDaniel with Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind.
Her Oscar acceptance speech is incredibly powerful.
We’re so glad that Hattie McDaniel is getting the recognition she deserves.