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Hattie McDaniel

From Academic Kids

Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1895October 26, 1952) was an American singer and actress.

Born in Wichita, Kansas, she made her first appearance in motion pictures in 1932. She spent much of her twenty-year career playing maids, mainly owing to the paucity of roles available to African American actresses. It was one such role, that of Mammy in Gone With the Wind (1939), opposite Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable, that she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress on February 29, 1940, making her the first African American performer to win an Oscar.

Hattie McDaniel died at age fifty-seven in the hospital on the grounds of the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills. It was her wish to be buried in the Hollywood cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, along with her fellow movie stars, but the owner, Jack Roth, refused to allow her to be interred there because she was Black. She is interred in Angelus Rosedale Cemetery, Los Angeles. In 1999, the new owner of the Hollywood Cemetery, who had renamed it Hollywood Forever Cemetery, wanted to right the wrong and have Miss McDaniel interred in the cemetery. Her family did not want to disturb her remains after all that time and declined the offer. Hollywood Forever then did the next best thing and built a cenotaph memorial on the lawn overlooking the lake in honor of McDaniel. It is one of the most popular sites for visitors to the cemetery.

Hattie McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one for her contributions to radio at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard, and one for motion pictures at 1719 Vine Street.

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