All articles and pages may contain affiliate links. You can read our disclosure policy here.

Hattie McDaniel

Best known for playing a sassy and opinionated maid like her Academy Award winning performance in Gone With The Wind.

Embed from Getty Images

Filmography

1932      

Love Bound

Impatient Maiden 

Are You Listening? 

The Washington Masquerade 

The Boiling Point 

Crooner

Blonde Venus 

The Golden West 

Hypnotized 

 

1933      

Hello, Sister 

I’m No Angel 

Goodbye Love 

 

1934      

Merry Wives of Reno 

City Park 

Operator 13

King Kelly of the U.S.A. 

Judge Priest 

Imitation of Life 

Flirtation

Lost in the Stratosphere 

Babbitt 

Little Men 

 

1935      

The Little Colonel

Transient Lady 

Traveling Saleslady 

China Seas 

Alice Adams 

Harmony Lane 

Murder by Television

Music Is Magic

Another Face 

We’re Only Human 

 

1936      

Next Time We Love

The First Baby

The Singing Kid 

Gentle Julia 

Show Boat

High Tension

The Bride Walks Out 

Postal Inspector 

Star for a Night

Valiant Is the Word for Carrie

Libeled Lady 

Can This Be Dixie?

Reunion 

 

1937      

Racing Lady 

Don’t Tell the Wife

The Crime Nobody Saw 

The Wildcatter 

Saratoga 

Stella Dallas 

Sky Racket 

Over the Goal 

Merry Go Round of 1938 

Nothing Sacred 

45 Fathers 

Quick Money

True Confession 

Mississippi Moods 

 

1938      

Battle of Broadway 

Vivacious Lady 

The Shopworn Angel 

Carefree 

The Mad Miss Manton 

The Shining Hour 

 

1939      

Everybody’s Baby

Zenobia 

Gone with the Wind

 

1940      

Maryland

 

1941      

The Great Lie 

Affectionately Yours 

They Died with Their Boots On 

 

1942      

The Male Animal

In This Our Life

George Washington Slept Here 

 

1943      

Johnny Come Lately 

Thank Your Lucky Stars 

 

1944      

Since You Went Away 

Janie 

Three Is a Family

Hi, Beautiful

 

1946      

Janie Gets Married 

Margie 

Never Say Goodbye 

Song of the South 

 

1947      

The Flame 

 

1948      

Mickey 

Family Honeymoon

 

1949      

The Big Wheel 

Awards

Best Actress in a Supporting Role Academy Award for Gone with the Wind (1939)

Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to be nominated for and win an Oscar.

Why should I complain about making $700 a week playing a maid? If I didn’t, I’d be making $7 a week being one. ~ Hattie McDaniel

 Hattie McDaniel was born to former slaves on June 10, 1895, in Wichita, Kansas. She was the youngest of 13 children. In 1900, the family moved to Colorado, living first in Fort Collins and then in Denver, where Hattie graduated from Denver East High School.

At age 15, McDaniel married Howard Hickman on January 19, 1911, in Denver, Colorado. He died in 1915.

McDaniel was a songwriter as well as a performer. She honed her songwriting skills while working with her brother’s minstrel show. After the death of her brother Otis in 1916, the troupe began to lose money, and Hattie did not get her next big break until 1920. From 1920 to 1925, she appeared with Professor George Morrison’s Melody Hounds, a black touring ensemble. In the mid-1920s, she embarked on a radio career, singing with the Melody Hounds on station KOA in Denver.

Her second husband, George Langford, died of a gunshot wound in January 1925, soon after she married him and while her career was on the rise.

From 1926 to 1929, she recorded many of her songs for Okeh Records and Paramount Records in Chicago. McDaniel recorded seven sessions: one in the summer of 1926 on the rare Kansas City label Meritt; four sessions in Chicago for Okeh from late 1926 to late 1927 (of the ten sides recorded, only four were issued), and two sessions in Chicago for Paramount in March 1929.

After the stock market crashed in 1929, McDaniel could find work only as a washroom attendant and waitress at Club Madrid in Milwaukee. Despite the owner’s reluctance to let her perform, she was eventually allowed to take the stage and soon became a regular performer.

In 1931, McDaniel moved to Los Angeles to join her brother Sam and her sisters Etta and Orlena. When she could not get film work, she took jobs as a maid or cook. Sam was working on a KNX radio program, The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour, and was able to get his sister a spot. She performed on radio as “Hi-Hat Hattie”, a bossy maid who often “forgets her place”. Her show became popular, but her salary was so low that she had to continue working as a maid.

She made her first film appearance in The Golden West (1932), in which she played a maid. Her second appearance came in the highly successful Mae West film I’m No Angel (1933), in which she played one of the black maids with whom West camped it up backstage. She received several other uncredited film roles in the early 1930s, often singing in choruses.