Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel

Wichita, Sedgwick County, Kansas, USA
Death 26 Oct 1952 (aged 57)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Section D, immediately after entrance from Washington Blvd. McDaniel rests under three tall palm trees next to each other.
Memorial ID 1367 · View Source
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Actress. She made Hollywood history as the first African-American to win an Academy Award, for Best Supporting Actress in "Gone With the Wind" (1939). The daughter of a Civil War veteran from Wichita, Kansas, she started out as a band vocalist and made her screen debut in 1932. Stout and matronly, with a deep and slightly gravelly voice, she was sadly typecast from the beginning as a maid or mammy. But she strove to bring dignity, intelligence, and even hints of dissent to those parts, and through sheer presence managed to steal every scene she was in. As Mammy in "Gone With the Wind" she was a genius of common sense, providing the film with its voice of reason. "She's one person whose respect I'd like to have", muses Clark Gable's Rhett Butler, and the moral authority McDaniel gave the character leaves us no reason to doubt him. She richly deserved the Oscar she won for her performance. Her nearly 100 other films include "Blonde Venus" (1932), "I'm No Angel" (1933), "Judge Priest" (1934), "Babbitt" (1934), "The Little Colonel" (1935), "Alice Adams" (1935), "Show Boat" (1936), "Stella Dallas" (1937), "Nothing Sacred" (1937), "They Died with Their Boots On" (1941), "In This Our Life" (1942), "Since You Went Away" (1944), and "Song of the South" (1946). McDaniel's fame made her a lightning rod for controversy. Some black critics felt her superior acting ability transcended the role she had to play again and again, while others (notably the NAACP) accused her of reinforcing negative stereotypes. Not that she had many options in the matter. As McDaniel ruefully quipped, "I'd rather play a maid for $700 a week than be one for $7 a week". And her "Gone With the Wind" triumph did nothing to shield her from the segregationist attitudes of her time. (She was not allowed to attend the film's Atlanta premiere, and at the Academy Award ceremony she and her husband had to sit in the back of the room, at a table just for them). Despite the sinful limits placed on her life and her talent, McDaniel did blaze a few trails. In 1945 she helped organize a class-action lawsuit against housing discrimination in her Los Angeles neighborhood; the case went to the U. S. Supreme Court, and race-based restrictions on owning property were ruled unconstitutional. She was the first black woman to sing on American radio (in 1931) and the first to star in her own radio and television series, "Beulah" (1947 to 1952). When McDaniel died of breast cancer at 57, 3000 mourners attended the funeral and 125 limousines accompanied her body to Rosedale. Racism literally dogged her to the grave. McDaniel's dying wish, to be buried at Hollywood Memorial Park, was denied because at the time that cemetery did not permit burials for African-Americans. In 1999, a memorial cenotaph for the actress was finally placed there by McDaniel's relatives and by Tyler Cassity, owner of the now-renamed Hollywood Forever cemetery.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 31 Dec 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 1367
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Hattie McDaniel (10 Jun 1895–26 Oct 1952), Find a Grave Memorial no. 1367, citing Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .