Black First of the Day

Black Firsts 3e
ISBN: 9781578593699

Why was Hattie McDaniel's performance in Gone with the Wind significant?

  • In 2010, Geoffrey Fletcher became the first African American to win for an adapted screenplay.
  • In 1971,Isaac Hayes (1942-2008) was the first black American composer to be honored with this award.
  • Whoopi Goldberg followed her supporting footsteps in 1994.
  • In 1964, Sidney Poitier (1924-) became the first black actor to win for a starring role.


The First Black Academy Award Winner

In 1940 Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952), singer, vaudeville performer, and actress, was the first black to win an Academy Award for her supporting role Mammy in Gone with the Wind. McDaniel made her radio debut in 1915, and is said to be the first black American woman to sing on radio. Often called "Hi- Hat Hattie," she was born in Wichita, Kansas, and moved to Hollywood in 1931. She made her movie debut in The Golden West in 1932, and appeared in more than three hundred films during the next two decades. Her career was built on the "Mammy" image, a role she played with dignity. She appeared on radio with Eddie Cantor and the "Amos 'n Andy" shows. She was entered into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame posthumously in 1975.

Sources: Logan and Winston, Dictionary of American Negro Biography, pp. 414-15; Hornsby, Milestones in Twentieth-Century African-American History, p. 35; Negro Almanac, p. 1426; Smith, Notable Black American Women, pp. 703-05.

From Black Firsts: 4,000 Ground-Breaking and Pioneering Events by Jessie Carney Smith, © 2013 Visible Ink Press®. A celebration of achievement, accomplishments and pride.

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