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In the News: Hattie McDaniel
Hattie McDaniel made the news in Scholastic News Edition 5/6 on March 27, 2006.
By Tiffany Chaparro

Actress Hattie McDaniel
Actress Hattie McDaniel is shown with the statuette she received for her work in Gone With The Wind. The award was for the Best Supporting Role by an Actress.
(Photo: Bettmann/Corbis)
As a young girl growing up in Wichita, Kansas, Hattie McDaniel dreamed of becoming a performer—a dream that came true. McDaniel went on to become the first African-American to win an Oscar, awarded in 1940 for her supporting role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind. That year was also the first year that a black actor was a guest at the Oscars.

McDaniel was born in 1895, the youngest of 13 children. Her father, who was born into slavery, was a Baptist preacher. In 1910, McDaniel was the only black participant in a Women's Christian Temperance Movement, where she won a gold medal for reciting a poem. After winning, McDaniel knew she wanted to do with her life—perform.

McDaniel quit high school after her sophomore year and began touring with her father's singing group. By 1925, she was singing on a radio station in Denver, Colorado called KOA. Unfortunately, following the stock market crash in 1929, McDaniel could only find work as a maid in a nightclub.

Things turned around in 1931. McDaniel continued to work in nightclubs, only this time as a performer. Her act soon began to draw a crowd, and a short time later she moved to Los Angeles with her siblings. There she was given her own radio show, and she also began to do small parts in films. However, many of the films did not give her credit.

Although best known for her performance in Gone With the Wind, McDaniel appeared in many other films. She also starred in the TV series Beulah, as a family housemaid. McDaniel died in 1952. She now appears on a U.S. postage stamp dedicated in her honor.