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Hattie McDaniel  (1895 - 1952)
Singer / actress on radio, television and film.

One of the great American character actresses, Hattie McDaniel was born in Wichita, Kansas on June 10, 1895. She dropped out of school in 1910 to join a minstrel show. She toured with minstrel shows and vaudeville (including the Shrine and Elks circuit and the Pantages circuit) until the onset of the depression. Taking a job as a bathroom attendant in a night club in Milwaukee, her vocal talents were soon discovered by the proprietor, and Hattie spent about a year singing in the club before moving to Los Angeles.

In Los Angeles, her brother found a part for her on a radio show called "The Optimistic Do-Nuts." It wasn't long before Hattie became the show's main attraction. Hattie's film debut was in 1932, and she found her first major role in the 20th Century-Fox film, Judge Priest. She sang a duet with Will Rogers in this film. She appeared in many films for the remainder of the 1930s and on through the 1940s, including Shirley Temple's The Little Colonel. Hattie was also on numerous radio shows throughout the 1930s and '40s, including the Eddie Cantor Show and Amos 'n Andy.

In 1939, Hattie won the Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for her performance as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Other significant roles include Queenie in Universal's 1936 production of Show Boat (she also toured with road companies of Show Boat) and Emily Hawkin in Selznick's Since You Went Away (1944), with Shirley Temple, Claudette Colbert and Jennifer Jones. She also played the part of Aunt Tempy in Disney's Song of the South (1946).

In 1947, she found a regular part on radio in The Beulah Show. In 1951, the show left radio in favor of television, and Hattie stayed with the show until her death; she died of breast cancer at age 57 on October 26, 1952. Hattie was married four times, but none of her marriages lasted very long.

Hattie has been immortalized by her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939) and as Queenie in Show Boat (1936). But, many of us will remember her for her jovial personality, her outspoken and spunky nature, and that unmistakable laugh.

Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel and Vivien Leigh
with Vivien Leigh, Gone with the Wind, 1939

Hattie McDaniel and Fred Stone
with Fred Stone in Quick Money, 1937

Family Honeymoon[Phyllis], Universal, 1948
The Flame[Celia], Repubic, 1948
Mickey[Bertha], Eagle-Lion, 1948
Janie Gets Married[April], Warner Bros, 1946
Margie[Cynthia], Fox, 1946
Never Say Goodbye[Cozy], Warner Bros.-First National, 1946
Song of the South[Aunt Tempy], Disney/RKO, 1946
Hi, Beautiful![Millie], Universal, 1944
Janie[April], Warner Bros, 1944
Since You Went Away[Emily Hawkin], Selznick/UA, 1944
Three Is a Family[Maid], UA, 1944
Johnny Come Lately[Aida], UA, 1943
Thank Your Lucky Stars[Gossip], Warner Bros, 1943
George Washington Slept Here[Hester], Warner Bros, 1942
In This Our Life[Minerva Clay], Warner Bros, 1942
The Male Animal[Cleota], Warner Bros, 1942
They Died with Their Boots On[Callie], Warner Bros, 1942
Affectionately Yours[Cynthia], Warner Bros, 1941
The Great Lie[Violet], Warner Bros, 1941
Maryland[Hattie], Fox, 1940
Everybody's BabyAA, [Hattie], Fox, 1939
Gone with the WindAA, [Mammy], Selznick/MGM, 1939
Zenobia[Dehlia], UA, 1939
Battle of Broadway[Agatha], Fox, 1938
Carefree[Maid], RKO, 1938
The Mad Miss Manton[Hilda], RKO, 1938
Quick Money[?], RKO, 1938
The Shining Hour[Belvedere], MGM, 1938
The Shopworn Angel[Martha the Maid], MGM, 1938
Vivacious Lady[Maid], RKO, 1938
45 Fathers[Beulah], Fox, 1937
The Crime Nobody Saw[Ambrosia], Paramount, 1937
Don't Tell the Wife[Nancy's Maid], RKO, 1937
Nothing Sacred[Mrs. Walker], Selznick, 1937
Over the Goal[Hannah], Warner Bros-First National, 1937
Racing Lady[Abby], RKO, 1937
Saratoga[Rosetta], MGM, 1937
True Confession[Ella], Paramount, 1937
The Bride Walks Out[Maime], RKO, 1936
Can This Be Dixie?[Lizzie], Fox, 1936
The First Baby[Dora], Fox, 1936
Gentle Julia[Kitty Silvers], Fox, 1936
Hearts Divided[Mammy], Warner Bros-Cosmopolitan, 1936
High Tension[Hattie], Fox, 1936
Libeled Lady[Maid in Hall], MGM, 1936
Next Time We Love[Hanna], Universal, 1936
Postal Inspector[Deborah], Universal, 1936
Reunion[Sadie], Fox, 1936
Show Boat[Queenie, Joe's Wife], Universal, 1936
Star for a Night[Hattie], Fox, 1936
Valiant Is the Word for Carrie[Ellen Hale], Paramount, 1936
We're Only Human[Molly], RKO, 1936
Alice Adams[Malena], RKO, 1935
Another Face[Maid], RKO, 1935
China Seas[Isabel McCarthy], MGM, 1935
Harmony Lane[Cook], Mascot/Republic, 1935
The Little Colonel[Mom Beck], Fox, 1935
Little MenMascot, 1935
Lost in the StratosphereMonogram, 1935
Murder by TelevisionCameo/Imperial, 1935
Music Is Magic[Amanda], Fox, 1935
The Traveling Saleslady[Black Woman], First National, 1935
Imitation of LifeUniversal, 1934
Judge Priest[Aunt Dilsey], Fox, 1934
Operator 13[Cook], MGM, 1934
Hello Sister![Woman], Fox, 1933
I'm No Angel[Maid], Paramount, 1933
The Story of Temple Drake[Minnie], Paramount, 1933
Blonde Venus[Cora, the maid], Paramount, 1932
The Golden West1932

This filmography may not be accurate nor complete. Different sources disagree on Hattie's films. Most listed here show up on two or more filmographies.

The Beulah Show, 1951 - 1952

The Beulah Show, 1951-1952
Amos 'n Andy
Eddie Cantor Show
The Optimistic Do-Nuts

"Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel" by Carlton Jackson, Madison Books, 1990 (right)

"Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood" by Jill Watts, 2005

Buy Hattie McDaniel Biographies at Amazon

Hattie: The Life of Hattie McDaniel

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Show Boat VHS

Web resources:
NPR Talk of the Nation: The Life and Struggles of Hattie McDaniel

Women in American History: Hattie McDaniel

Hattie McDaniel at Internet Movie Database


Hattie McDaniel in her AWVS uniform
Hattie McDaniel's happy in her AWVS uniform,
[American Women's Voluntary Services]
for she's a tireless worker on camp and bond-
selling shows. She's on the Cantor show.
(Movie-Radio Guide October 24-30, 1942)

See AWVS web site

Hattie McDaniel postage stamp
Hattie McDaniel commemorative postage stamp

Hattie McDaniel portrait
Hattie McDaniel portrait

Hattie McDaniel portrait
Hattie McDaniel portrait

Actors M: McDaniel, Hattie
Actors M: McDaniel, Hattie
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Orignial artwork, text and compilation ©1997-2008 Jim Johnson
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