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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hattie McDaniel (1895-1952) will be known forever for her role as "Mammy" in "Gone With the Wind" (1939). She received the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that role but not much else as far as recognition or respect. When the film premiered in Atlanta in December of 1939, neither Hattie or her black co-stars were invited since Atlanta was still segregated. A commemorative program that was printed to honor the event had to be destroyed and re-printed because of the complaints of southerners over the use of Hattie’s picture on the back page. Even at the Academy Awards presentation in 1940, where she received her Best Supporting Actress award, she and her husband were not seated with the GWTW party, but were placed in the far away reaches of the room. It was a long walk to the stage when her name was called.
Hattie went on to play basically domestic help in a few more movies and the television show, "Beulah" before she died in 1952. Once again, like Lena Horne, one wonders what Hattie McDaniel might have accomplished in another era.

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