Hattie McDaniel, born on June 10, 1895, in Wichita, Kansas, would’ve been 120 years old today, were she still alive.
In 1925, she became one of the first African American women on the radio. In 1934, she landed her on-screen break in “Judge Priest.” In 1940, she became the first African American to win an Oscar for her role as Mammy in “Gone with the Wind.” In 1947, she starred on CBS radio’s “The Beulah Show.” She died on October 26, 1952, in Los Angeles, California.
A film based on her life has long been in the air, with Mo’Nique revealing in 2010 that she owns the rights to McDaniel’s life story, and she planned to star in the biopic. Recall that at the time, she said she wanted Lee Daniels to direct it. However, as of today, it doesn’t look like much progress has been made since the initial announcement 5 years ago.
Last fall, almost 80 years after the publication of Margaret Mitchell’s best-selling novel “Gone With The Wind,” it was announced that the character we all know as Mammy, as played by McDaniel in the film adaptation, would be finally getting her own back story – although in book form… at least for now.
“Mammy is one of the truly powerful figures in the book and movie and, oddly enough, one of the figures nobody tends to think much about,” said McCaig in a press statement. “When people say what is Gone With the Wind about, they say it’s a love story between Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara. But Mammy is almost a third party.”
He added: “I was interested in how an African American slave could play such a tremendously important part in a well-to-do white family. I wondered where she came from, had she ever been in love, had she had a child.”
Of course, with McCaig being a 70-something-year-old white man, his quest to “give Mammy a voice” and tell her story has been, and will continue to be met with concern and criticism for what should be obvious reasons.
A question that immediately came to mind when the book was announced, was whether a film adaptation would also follow – especially as movies set during the particular era during which the novel takes place, are seemingly in favor right now.
Finally, did you know that, in the history of the Academy Awards, more than a few Oscars statuettes have either gone missing or were stolen?
55 disappeared from a Los Angeles loading dock just days before the ceremony in 2000. All but two were recovered.
In 1938, an unidentified man jumped onstage to accept an award on behalf of Best Supporting Actress winner Alice Brady, who was too ill to attend. The man was never seen again — and neither was Brady’s award.
In 2002, UPS lost Whoopi Goldberg’s Best Supporting Actress Oscar when it was sent out for cleaning. It was later found in a trash can.
And then there’s the case of Hattie McDaniel, and her Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her role as Mammy in “Gone With the Wind” – an award that has been missing for decades!
In the audio report below, NPR investigates… “The Curious Case Of Hattie McDaniels’ Missing Oscar”