Hattie McDaniel Controversial Stereotypes

February 1, 2012 by staff 

Hattie McDaniel Controversial Stereotypes, Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1895 – October 26, 1952) was the first African-American actress to win an Academy Award. She won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939).

In addition to having acted in many films, McDaniel was a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer, and television star. Hattie McDaniel was in fact the first black woman to sing on the radio in America.

Over the course of her career, McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only about 80. She gained the respect of the African American show business community with her generosity, elegance, and charm.

McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one for her contributions to radio at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for motion pictures at 1719 Vine Street. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.

Hattie McDaniel was born June 10, 1895, in Wichita, Kansas, to former slaves. She was the youngest of 13 children. Her father, Henry McDaniel, fought in the Civil War with the 122nd USCT and her mother, Susan Holbert, was a singer of religious music.

In 1900, the family moved to Colorado, living first in Fort Collins and then in Denver, where Hattie graduated from Denver East High School. Her brother, Sam McDaniel (1886-1962), played the butler in the 1948 Three Stooges’ short film Heavenly Daze. Another acting sibling of Hattie and Sam was actress Etta McDaniel.

In addition to performing, Hattie was also a songwriter, a skill she honed while working with her brother’s minstrel show. After the death of her brother Otis in 1916, the troupe began to lose money, and it wasn’t until 1920 that Hattie received another big opportunity. During 1920-25, she appeared with Professor George Morrison’s Melody Hounds, a touring black ensemble, and in the mid-1920s she embarked on a radio career, singing with the Melody Hounds on station KOA in Denver. In 1926-1929 she also recorded many of her songs on Okeh Records and Paramount Records in Chicago. In total, McDaniel recorded 7 sessions; 1 in summer of 1926 for the rare Kansas City label Meritt, 4 sessions in Chicago for OKeh (late 1926-late 1927) – of the 10 sides, only 4 were issued, and 2 sessions in Chicago for Paramount (both in March, 1929).

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