Freeze Frame: Hattie McDaniel, the first-ever black Oscar winner, was separated from white participants at the 12th Academy Awards

Moviegoers will remember the 1939 classic carried away by the wind for his famous one-liner: “Frankly my darling, I don’t care.”

But the Oscar-winning film made history for more than its critical and box office success. The film, adapted from the 1936 novel of the same name, also starred iconic black actress Hattie McDaniel.

McDaniel was 46 when she starred as the maid “Mammy” in carried away by the windand his performance earned him one of the 13 film in the film Oscars.

The talented actress made Hollywood history at the 12th Academy Awards on February 29, 1940 when she became the first person of color to receive an Oscar.

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Hattie McDaniel pictured with her historic Oscar in 1940. (Getty)

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She received the Best Supporting Actress gong for her role as a slave maid in the instant classic.

Back then carried away by the wind First, there was still a climate of extreme racism and segregation laws in the United States, especially in the South. Black men were being lynched en masse based on false allegations that they had harmed white women.

McDaniel, an African American woman, was not immune to the pervasive and ugly racism that still haunts America.

“I sincerely hope that I will always bring honor to my race and to the film industry.”

She was banned from her own movie premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, due to segregation laws that still existed. Star Clark Gable threatened to boycott the screening if McDaniel was not invited, but she convinced him to still attend.

At first, pioneer McDaniel wasn’t even allowed to attend the Oscars, which were held at the famed Coconaut Grove Nightclub at the Ambassador Hotel in Boston.

The hotel had a strict “no blacks” policy at the time. McDaniel’s producer on the film was forced to call a “favor” for the actress to even be allowed into the building.

McDaniel played Mammy in Gone with the Wind. (MGM)

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Despite the horrific racial discrimination, McDaniel defied the odds and won the only Oscar she was nominated for during the night. In her speech, she remained stoic and thanked the academy for this honor.

“This is one of the happiest times of my life, and I want to thank each and every one of you who helped select me for one of the kindness awards,” McDaniel said onstage.

“It made me feel very, very humbled and I will always consider it a beacon for whatever I may do in the future. I sincerely hope that I will always bring honor to my race and to the film industry .

“My heart is too full to tell you exactly how I feel. And can I say thank you and God bless you.”

After giving her speech, McDaniel was taken to a separate table for two in the far corner of the room, where she sat with her white agent, William Meiklejohn.

She was not allowed to sit at the same table as her white co-stars, including Gable and actress Olivia De Hallivand. She was both celebrated and treated as an outcast on the same evening.

Hattie McDaniel, Oliva De Havilland and Vivien Leigh
Hattie McDaniel, Oliva De Havilland and Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind. (Mondadori via Getty Images)

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McDaniel’s segregation was further intensified when her co-stars attended an after party at a “no blacks” club.

Usually, a gong at the Oscars is a guaranteed boost to an actor’s career. Leading roles are pouring in, with producers desperate to have Oscar-winning talent in their books.

For McDaniel, however, his historic price opened no doors. It instead left the actress wondering “if I had done something wrong,” The Washington Post reports.

She never won another Oscar, but starred in a number of films – many about black slavery in America – until her final acting credit as Beulah in the eponymous series.

McDaniel died at the age of 59 on October 26, 1952, her award paving the way for other black actors to step onto the same Oscars stage.

An African-American actor didn’t win another Oscar until 1962, when Sidney Poitier won Best Actor.

Then Halle Berry was the first woman of color to win Best Actress. Whoopi Goldberg was the second black actress to win the Best Supporting Actress gong for her role in Phantom in 1991.

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