“I sincerely hope that I shall always be a credit to my race, and to the motion picture industry.” –Hattie McDaniel

The great Hattie McDaniel appeared in over 300 films in her long and amazing career in motion pictures.

Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10th, 1895. She first joined the Screens Actors Guild in 1934.

The film that immortalized her was ‘Gone With the Wind.’  At first Hattie McDaniel did not think she had a shot at the role.

The president’s wife, First Lady–Mrs Roosevelt actually wrote a letter to the film’s producer–David O Selznick to ask if her own maid could be given the maid role in the movie.

Clark Gable , a friend of Hattie McDaniel, stepped up and demanded that Hattie McDaniel be given the part as Mammy. Though Clark Gable wanted her in the role she still had to audition and do a screen test for the role of Mammy.

Her audition left no doubt in anyone’s mind who should be cast in this most important role. Once the film was complete the studio selected the film’s premiere to be held in Atlanta, Georgia. Fri., Dec. 15, 1939 all the stars of the film were there except McDaniel.

Prior to the film’s premiere David O Selznick fought hard to change the attitude of the White power structure in Atlanta. This fight went on for over a year. Selznick being Jewish knew full well the horrible sting of racism and it’s ugly bitter foulness.

Clark Gable upon hearing this became incensed and threatened to boycott the Atlanta Premiere unless Hattie McDaniel would be allowed to attend. Hattie McDaniel went to Gable and convinced him to attend the premiere without her.

The irony of the White Atlanta community is that black organizations performed at various events celebrating
the movie’s Atlanta premiere. A young ten year old black boy named Martin Luther King Jr. actually appeared on the stage at a charity ball dressed as a slave boy.

Hattie McDaniel was able to attend the Hollywood premiere of ‘Gone With the Wind ‘ on December 28th 1939.
In 1940 history was made yet again in the world of American Cinema; Hattie McDaniel won an Academy Award
for her role as “Mammy” she won for the Best Supporting Actress; no black actor had ever won an Oscar nor had any black actor even been nominated for such a high honor in American films.

I, Charles Micheaux have always been inspired by Artist like Hattie McDaniel because she taught us there is a way to reach your dreams, if there is the will to pursue them.

Hattie McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and she was also honored with a Black Heritage Stamp by the US Postal Service on January 29th 2006, the photo of her on the stamp is a picture of her as she received her Academy Award.

 

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.