Not only was Hattie McDaniel the first African American to win an Academy Award but she was also the first African American to sing on the radio.
Some of her movies include: The Little Colonel (1935), China Seas (1935), Alice Adams (1935), Saratoga (1937), Vivacious Lady (1938), and of course Gone With The Wind (1939). She has appeared with Jean Harlow, Clark Gable, Bela Lugosi, James Stewart, Bette Davis, and Katharine Hepburn.
Hattie McDaniel’s roles were that of sassy African American housemaids. It was her greatest role in Gone with the Wind that won her the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. Her Oscar was not the familiar golden statue, but a 5-1/2″ x 6” plaque. At the time this was the type of award given to the Best Supporting Actor and Actress.
McDaniel was not able to attend the Gone with the Wind premier in Atlanta, Georgia due to segregation. Her good friend Clark Gable threatened to boycott the premier unless McDaniel was able to attend. McDaniel talked him into attending.
For her part during WWII she was on the Hollywood Victory Committee and performed at USO shows and war bond rallies.
When Hattie McDaniel died on October 26, 1952, one of her last wishes was to be buried in Hollywood Cemetery (now Hollywood Forever). Due to segregation the cemetery refused to bury her there. Instead she is buried at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery. In 1999 Hollywood Forever dedicated a cenotaph to Hattie McDaniel overlooking the lake.
Hattie McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood walk of fame, one for film and one for radio. She also appeared on a US postal stamp in 2006.