Happy Birthday to Classic Movie Character Actress & Film Pioneer, Hattie McDaniel, born June 10 in 1892!
Hattie McDaniel — Radio Pioneer. McDaniel started her entertainment career as a singer-songwriter in her brother’s (Otis) minstrel show. In the early-1920s, she toured with Professor George Morrison’s Melody Hounds, and by the mid-1920s she was singing with the Melody Hounds on KOA, a radio station in Denver. In 1931, she moved to LA to embark on her film career. She got a spot on a radio show called The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour as the ‘bossy’ maid ‘Hi-Hat Hattie’ (with the help of her brother Sam who was also on the show). Although the show was very popular, McDaniel’s pay was so low that she had to work as a ‘real’ maid to make ends meet. McDaniel’s debut film role was as a maid in The Golden West (1932) — and McDaniel would end up playing many maids throughout her career as an actress, most famously as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.
“I’d rather play a maid than be one.” -Hattie McDaniel
(note: I could not find any photos of Hattie McDaniel during her radio years, hence the Gone with the Wind photo)
Hattie McDaniel — Film Pioneer. Hattie McDaniel was the first African-American person to win an Academy Award. She is pictured above accepting her Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (from Fay Bainter) for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind.
Hattie McDaniel — Community Service Pioneer. Hattie McDaniel was appointed Chair of Hollywood’s Negro Division Victory Committee to provide entertainment for soldiers at military bases. She would appear at hospitals and perform at USO shows and war bond rallies to raise funds in support of the war effort.
Disclaimer: I realize that such a short blog post could never do Hattie McDaniel justice. She was a true pioneer and a true inspiration.
for Classic Movie Hub