It's been 75 years since Hattie McDaniel won for 'Gone With the Wind,' accepting her award at the Ambassador's Cocoanut Grove nightclub. Four husbands, a friendship with Clark Gable and 74 maid roles later, she died, her body refused by a segregated cemetery, her statuette now missing, but with her descendants devoted to her memory.
On a February afternoon in 1940, Hattie McDaniel — then one of the biggest African-American movie stars in the world — marched into the Culver City offices of producer David O. Selznick and placed a stack of Gone With the Wind reviews on his desk. The Civil War epic, released two months earlier, had become an instant cultural sensation, and McDaniel's portrayal of Mammy — the head slave at Tara, the film's fictional Southern plantation — was being singled out by both white and African-American critics as extraordinary. The Los Angeles Times even praised her work as "worthy of Academy supporting awards." Selznick took the hint and submitted the 44-year-old for a nomination in the best supporting actress category, along with her co-star, Olivia de Havilland, contributing to the film's record-setting 13 noms.
With the hotel's strict no-blacks policy, Selznick had to call in a special favor just to have McDaniel allowed into the building (it was officially integrated by 1959, when the Unruh Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination in California). #Integration #oscars #sameoldgame