timeline

born 1895

As a child Hattie McDaniel loved performing ~ she sang so continuously that her mother tried to bribe her into silence with spare change! But this daughter of emancipated slaves refused to stay quiet and became a groundbreaking radio + film actress. Plus, the first African American to win an Academy Award.

Although she's best known for her role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind, Hattie was a multi-talented vocalist, vaudeville professional, and beloved radio star whose performances are still often described as show-stopping. She faced serious discrimination throughout her career, but kept at it based on her belief ~ "You can best fight any existing evil from the inside."

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Hattie McDaniel (15)

"I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry."

Academy Award Ceremony | february 1940

"I did my best, and God did the rest."

New York Amsterdam News {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel; verified in print} | march 1940

"The entire race is usually judged by the actions of one man or woman."

"Wings Over Jordan" Radio Program {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | july 1940

"I feel no great personal pride for my contribution to the world of art. Rather, I feel that the entire fourteen million or more Negroes have all been raised a few notches higher in the estimation of the world."

"Wings Over Jordan" Radio Program {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | july 1940

"To you young people who are aspiring to succeed in some line of endeavor, in spite of the troubles that many of us have experienced, let me say this: There is still room at the top."

"Wings Over Jordan" Radio Program {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | july 1940

"I've learned by livin' and watchin' that there is only eighteen inches between a pat on the back and a kick in the seat of the pants."

Denver Post {as quoted in Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood} | april 1941

"As for those grapefruit and buttermilk diets...I'll take roast chicken and dumplings."

Modern Screen {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | february 1942

"I cannot help but feel sad when I look over a crowd of our fine young men and realize that the world has found no better way to solve its problems than by taking so many of these young lives."

letter to Ruth Dermody {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | july 1942

"Putting a little time aside for clean fun and good humor…is very necessary to relieve the tensions of our time."

Hollywood Victory Committee tour | august 1942

"It's not how much can I spare; it's how much have I?"

Hollywood Victory Committee tour {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | august 1942

"You can best fight any existing evil from the inside."

letter to George V. Byrnes {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | march 1945

"Faith is the black person's federal reserve system."

Hattie Hates Nobody {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | december 1947

"In my life, God comes first, work second, and men third."

Chicago Tribune {as quoted in Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood} | december 1947

"I'm letting no man handle my bank account."

'Beulah,' Mate Incompatible {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | october 1949

"I am proud of my standing as a woman interested in her race."

Interracial Unity Committee Awards {as quoted in Hattie: the Life of Hattie McDaniel} | february 1951
  • Quotabelle profile
  • Hattie McDaniel

curated with care by Kristen M. Fallica {february 2015}