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Hattie McDaniel : Black ambition, White Hollywood

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First edition

Hattie McDaniel is perhaps best known for her performance as Mammy, the sassy foil to Scarlett O'Hara in Gone With the Wind, one of Hollywood's most revered -- and controversial -- films. McDaniel's Oscar win raised hopes that the entertainment industry was finally ready to create more respectful, multidimensional roles for blacks. But under the aegis of studio heads eager to please Southerners, screenwriters kept churning out roles that denigrated the African-American experience. Where McDaniel's stature and popularity should have increased after Selznick's masterpiece cameout, as was the case for her white counterparts, hers declined, as an increasingly politicized black audience turned against her. "I'd rather play a maid than be a maid," is how McDaniel answered her critics. Yet her flippant response belied a woman whose hardscrabble background rendered her emotionally conflicted about the roles she accepted. Here, at last, in a finely tuned biography by Jill Watts, is her story.

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Geneva Public Library 921 MCDANIEL (Text)
Second Floor Nonfiction
 DONATION: Given in Memory of Dortha Nester, an avid Gone with the Wind fan

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