21st Century: Query 193 (Hattie McDaniel)
“I don’t belong on this earth. I always feel out of place – like a visitor.”
~ Hattie McDaniel was an American actress of stage and screen, professional singer-songwriter, and comedian. She is best known for her role as “Mammy” in Gone with the Wind (1939), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first Oscar won by a black entertainer.
In addition to acting in many films, McDaniel recorded 16 blues sides between 1926–1929 (10 were issued), was a radio performer and television star; she was the first black woman to sing on radio in the United States. She appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only 83.
As an African-American actor of the 1930’s and 1940’s McDaniel often experienced rampant racism and prejudice in both her personal and professional life. She was typecast in domestic roles, such as her well-known “Mammy” role.
In 2020, how might an African-American entertainer experience some of the same prejudices that faced McDaniel? How is life different for modern minority actors? The same?