Hattie McDaniel became the first Black actress to win an Academy Award
She was born on June 10, 1893 in Wichita, Kansas. Her parents were former slaves and she was the youngest of thirteen children. When she was a child her family moved to Denver, Colorado. Hattie dropped out of high school and started her career performing with her brother's carnival show. On January 11, 1911 she married Howard Hickman but sadly he died of pneumonia in 1915. Her career took off in vaudeville where she toured with Professor George Morrison's Melody Hounds. She became a popular radio singer and recorded several songs. Hattie married George Langford in 1922. Tragically he died from a gunshot wound soon after making her a widow for the second time. After the 1929 stock market crash she had trouble finding work and had to take a job as a maid. Then she moved to Los Angeles and made her film debut in the 1932 The Golden West. The heavy set actress appeared in dozens of films including I'm No Angel, Alice Adams, and China Seas with Jean Harlow. Unfortunately she was usually cast as a servant and many of her roles were uncredited. In 1939 she was chosen to play Mammy in the Civil War drama Gone With The Wind. Her performance got rave reviews and she won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was the first Black actress to ever win an Oscar.