Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood

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9780060514914: Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood

Hattie McDaniel is best known for her performance as Mammy, the sassy foil to Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind. Though the role called for yet another wide–grinned, subservient black domestic, McDaniel transformed her character into one who was loyal yet subversive, devoted yet bossy. Her powerful performance would win her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and catapult the hopes of Black Hollywood that the entertainment industry ––after decades of stereotypical characters–– was finally ready to write more multidimensional, fully realized roles for blacks.

But racism was so entrenched in Hollywood that despite pleas by organizations such as the NAACP and SAG ––and the very examples that Black service men were setting as they fought against Hitler in WWII–– roles for blacks continued to denigrate the African American experience. So rather than see her stature increase in Hollywood, as did other Oscar–winning actresses, Hattie McDaniel, continued to play servants. And rather than see her popularity increase, her audience turned against her as an increasingly politicized black community criticized her and her peers for accepting degrading roles. "I'd rather play a maid then be a maid," Hattie McDaniel answered her critics but her flip response belied a woman who was herself emotionally conflicted about the roles she accepted but who tried to imbue each Mammy character with dignity and nuance.

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About the Author:

A professor of history at California State University and the coordinator of the film studies program at California State University, San Marcos, Jill Watts has written two previous books, God, Harlem U.S.A.: The Father Divine Story and Mae West: An Icon in Black and White. She lives in San Marcos, California.

From Publishers Weekly:

In her imperfect yet fascinating biography, Watts (Mae West) unveils the largely tragic tale of Hattie McDaniel, the first African-American to win an Academy Award. Born in 1893, the youngest daughter of freed slaves, McDaniel sang and danced to help provide for her poverty-stricken family. Her early career as a comedian and singer garnered raves. She landed in Hollywood, appearing as an extra in scores of early 1930s films. Soon speaking roles in films like Stella Dallas led to her Oscar-winning performance as Mammy in the 1939 epic Gone with the Wind. This achievement marked the pinnacle of McDaniel's career—and heralded its collapse. Despite the complexity of her portrayal, McDaniel became typecast as the affable, disgruntled or tippling domestic. Although she'd educated herself , dressed elegantly and became involved in a range of political and social issues, McDaniel was hampered by studios that presented her as an eye-rolling, dialect-speaking Jemima. Watts's strength lies in her explication of the political and social conflicts in which McDaniel was embroiled. Yet her illumination of the complex actress herself is weak; she only comes alive in the book's final chapters. Nevertheless, Watts has crafted a compelling, disturbing history of blacks in early Hollywood. Photos.
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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Hattie McDaniel is best known for her performance as Mammy, the sassy foil to Scarlett O Hara in Gone with the Wind. Though the role called for yet another wide-grinned, subservient black domestic, McDaniel transformed her character into one who was loyal yet subversive, devoted yet bossy. Her powerful performance would win her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and catapult the hopes of Black Hollywood that the entertainment industry --after decades of stereotypical characters-- was finally ready to write more multidimensional, fully realized roles for blacks. But racism was so entrenched in Hollywood that despite pleas by organizations such as the NAACP and SAG --and the very examples that Black service men were setting as they fought against Hitler in WWII-- roles for blacks continued to denigrate the African American experience. So rather than see her stature increase in Hollywood, as did other Oscar-winning actresses, Hattie McDaniel, continued to play servants. And rather than see her popularity increase, her audience turned against her as an increasingly politicized black community criticized her and her peers for accepting degrading roles. I d rather play a maid then be a maid, Hattie McDaniel answered her critics but her flip response belied a woman who was herself emotionally conflicted about the roles she accepted but who tried to imbue each Mammy character with dignity and nuance. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780060514914

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . Brand New Book. Hattie McDaniel is best known for her performance as Mammy, the sassy foil to Scarlett O Hara in Gone with the Wind. Though the role called for yet another wide-grinned, subservient black domestic, McDaniel transformed her character into one who was loyal yet subversive, devoted yet bossy. Her powerful performance would win her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and catapult the hopes of Black Hollywood that the entertainment industry --after decades of stereotypical characters-- was finally ready to write more multidimensional, fully realized roles for blacks. But racism was so entrenched in Hollywood that despite pleas by organizations such as the NAACP and SAG --and the very examples that Black service men were setting as they fought against Hitler in WWII-- roles for blacks continued to denigrate the African American experience. So rather than see her stature increase in Hollywood, as did other Oscar-winning actresses, Hattie McDaniel, continued to play servants. And rather than see her popularity increase, her audience turned against her as an increasingly politicized black community criticized her and her peers for accepting degrading roles. I d rather play a maid then be a maid, Hattie McDaniel answered her critics but her flip response belied a woman who was herself emotionally conflicted about the roles she accepted but who tried to imbue each Mammy character with dignity and nuance. Bookseller Inventory # AAS9780060514914

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Hattie McDaniel is best known for her performance as Mammy, the sassy foil to Scarlett O Hara in Gone with the Wind. Though the role called for yet another wide-grinned, subservient black domestic, McDaniel transformed her character into one who was loyal yet subversive, devoted yet bossy. Her powerful performance would win her the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress and catapult the hopes of Black Hollywood that the entertainment industry --after decades of stereotypical characters-- was finally ready to write more multidimensional, fully realized roles for blacks. But racism was so entrenched in Hollywood that despite pleas by organizations such as the NAACP and SAG --and the very examples that Black service men were setting as they fought against Hitler in WWII-- roles for blacks continued to denigrate the African American experience. So rather than see her stature increase in Hollywood, as did other Oscar-winning actresses, Hattie McDaniel, continued to play servants. And rather than see her popularity increase, her audience turned against her as an increasingly politicized black community criticized her and her peers for accepting degrading roles. I d rather play a maid then be a maid, Hattie McDaniel answered her critics but her flip response belied a woman who was herself emotionally conflicted about the roles she accepted but who tried to imbue each Mammy character with dignity and nuance. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780060514914

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