Hattie McDaniel

Actor, Singer, Dancer
She was the first black actor to win an Academy Award, but Hattie McDaniel paid a price to cross Hollywood's color line. Schooled in minstrelsy in the years leading up to the Depression, during which time she developed ... Read more »
Born: 06/10/1895 in Wichita, Kansas, USA


Actor (48)

Margie 1946 (Movie)

Cynthia (Actor)

Janie 1944 (Movie)

April - Conway's Maid (Actor)

Three Is a Family 1944 (Movie)

Maid (Actor)

Johnny Come Lately 1942 (Movie)

Aida (Actor)

Thank Your Lucky Stars 1942 (Movie)


They Died With Their Boots On 1940 (Movie)

Callie (Actor)

Gone With the Wind 1939 (Movie)

Mammy (Actor)

Nothing Sacred 1936 (Movie)

Mrs Walker (Actor)

Show Boat 1936 (Movie)

Queenie (Actor)

Valiant Is the Word For Carrie 1935 (Movie)

Ellen Belle (Actor)

Alice Adams 1934 (Movie)

Malena (Actor)

Imitation of Life 1933 (Movie)


Blonde Venus 1932 (Movie)

Maid (Actor)

I'm No Angel 1932 (Movie)


Affectionately Yours (Movie)

Cynthia (Actor)

Babbitt (Movie)


Beulah (TV Show)


Can This Be Dixie? (Movie)

Lizzie (Actor)

Everybody's Baby (Movie)

Hattie (Actor)

Family Honeymoon (Movie)

Phyllis (Actor)

George Washington Slept Here (Movie)

Hester (Actor)

Harmony Lane (Movie)

Cook (Actor)

Hearts Divided (Movie)

Mammy (Actor)

Hypnotized (Movie)


In This Our Life (Movie)

Minerva Clay (Actor)

Janie Gets Married (Movie)

April (Actor)

Judge Priest (Movie)

Aunt Dilsey (Actor)

Lost in the Stratosphere (Movie)


Maryland (Movie)

Hattie (Actor)

Merry-Go-Round of 1938 (Movie)


Murder by Television (Movie)


Operator 13 (Movie)

Cook (Actor)

Over the Goal (Movie)

Hannah (Actor)

Saratoga (Movie)

Rosetta (Actor)

Since You Went Away (Movie)

Fidelia (Actor)

Song of the South (Movie)

Aunt Tempy (Actor)

The Big Wheel (Movie)

Minnie (Actor)

The Bride Walks Out (Movie)

Maime (Actor)

The Great Lie (Movie)

Violet (Actor)

The Little Colonel (Movie)

Mom Beck (Actor)

The Mad Miss Manton (Movie)

Hilda (Actor)

The Male Animal (Movie)

Cleota (Actor)

The Shining Hour (Movie)

Belvedere (Actor)

The Shopworn Angel (Movie)

Martha the Maid (Actor)

The Story of Temple Drake (Movie)

Minnie (Actor)

The Traveling Saleslady (Movie)

Black Woman (Actor)

True Confession (Movie)

Ella (Actor)

Zenobia (Movie)

Dehlia (Actor)


She was the first black actor to win an Academy Award, but Hattie McDaniel paid a price to cross Hollywood's color line. Schooled in minstrelsy in the years leading up to the Depression, during which time she developed the stock character of a sassy black housemaid who refused to kowtow to her white employers, McDaniel arrived in Hollywood after the 1929 stock market crash and was soon earning more money playing servants than most stockbrokers were seeing from their investments. Billed low in the credits, McDaniel more than measured up to the likes of Clark Gable, Bette Davis, Jean Harlow and Barbara Stanwyck, often stealing one or two scenes in such films as John Ford's "Judge Priest" (1934), Tay Garnett's "China Seas" (1935), and George Stevens' "Alice Adams" (1935) from their A-list players. Gable recommended McDaniel to producer David O. Selznick for the role of Scarlett O'Hara's nursemaid Mammy in "Gone with the Wind" (1939); Selznick was so impressed with the actress that he had the screenplay rewritten to accommodate her. Though segregation precluded McDaniel from attending the film's Atlanta premiere, vindication came with an Oscar win for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. If her films declined in quality in the years before her death in 1952, Hattie McDaniel had long since proved her point that being one of the first successful African-American actresses was a groundbreaking achievement and that no matter the criticism, she always lived by her credo, "I'd rather play a maid than be one."



James Crawford


Henry McDaniel

former slave headlined his own minstrel show in the early 1900s retired from performing in 1916

Susan McDaniel


Etta McDaniel


Larry Williams



dropped out of school at age 15



Starred in the CBS sitcom version of "Beulah"; only appeared in a handful of episodes before suffering a heart attack that caused her to withdraw


Last film appearances, "Mickey" and "Family Honeymoon"


Co-starred in the Disney film "Song of the South"


Acted in "Since You Went Away"


Once again played a domestic in "In This Our Life", starring Bette Davis and directed by John Huston; character confronts racial issues as her law student son is wrongly accused of manslaughter


Appeared in the Western "They Died with Their Boots on"


Cast in most famous role of Mammy in "Gone With the Wind"; barred from attending the film's premiere in Atlanta because of racial segregation in the South; became first black performer to win an Academy Award


Was briefly glimpsed as a maid in "The Women"


Had featured role in "Nothing Sacred", starring Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray


Reprised her stage part of Queenie in film version of "Show Boat"


Appeared in "Alice Adams" and "The Littlest Colonel"


Had small role in "Imitation of Life"


First garnered attention as the washerwoman Aunt Dilsey in "Judge Priest", directed by John Ford; performed duet with Will Rogers in film


Played the maid to Mae West in "I'm No Angel"


First film appearance, "The Golden West"


Appeared alongside Marlene Dietrich in "Blonde Venus"


Moved to L.A. to pursue acting career in films; worked as a dishwasher to support herself


After TOBA went bankrupt, left stranded in Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Made radio debut singing with Morrison's group in Denver


Joined the Melody Hounds, a musical ensemble led by George Morrison; toured USA appearing in vaudeville houses operated by the Theater Owners Booking Association (TOBA)


Won gold medal at an elocution contest sponsored by the Woman's Christian Temperance Union for reciting poem "Convict Joe" (date approximate); dropped out of school and toured with minstrel shows, including one featuring members of her family (date approx


Joined a local black minstrel show in Denver (date approximate)


Family moved to Denver, Colorado from Kansas

During 1940s, criticized by NAACP for perpetuating the stereotype of a subservient domestic

During WWII, organized entertainments for black soldiers and sailors serving in the military

Worked as a ladies' room attendent at Sam Pick's Suburban Inn in Milwaukee; when owner heard her sing, gave her headliner spot

Cast in title role of the radio comedy "Beulah"

Appeared on radio as 'Hi-Hat Hattie', a bossy maid who often "forgets her place"

Bonus Trivia


When McDaniel was criticized in the 1940s by the NAACP for her penchant for playing servants in films, she reportedly replied: "I'd rather play a maid on film than be force to work as one in real life." (Another version of her response: "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be a maid and make $7.")