Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1895 – October 26, 1952) was an American actress. McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Academy Award. She won the award for Best Supporting Actress for her role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind (1939).
In addition to having acted in many films, McDaniel was a professional singer-songwriter, comedian, stage actress, radio performer, and television star; she was the first black woman to sing on the radio in America. Over the course of her career, McDaniel appeared in over 300 films, although she received screen credits for only eighty or so. She gained the respect of the African American show business community with her generosity, elegance, great beauty, and charm.
McDaniel has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one for her contributions to radio at 6933 Hollywood Boulevard and one for acting in motion pictures at 1719 Vine Street. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame and in 2006 became the first black Oscar winner honored with a US postage stamp.
McDaniel died at age 57 on October 26, 1952, of breast cancer in the hospital on the grounds of the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills. She was childless and divorced from her fourth husband. McDaniel was survived by her brother, Sam McDaniel. Thousands of mourners turned out to celebrate her life and achievements. In her will, McDaniel wrote: "I desire a white casket and a white shroud; white gardenias in my hair and in my hands, together with a white gardenia blanket and a pillow of red roses. I also wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery." The Hollywood Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood is the resting place of movie stars such as Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, and others. Hollywood Cemetery refused to allow her to be buried there, because it, too, practiced racial segregation and would not accept for burial the bodies of black people. Her second choice was Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery, where she lies today.
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