Hattie McDaniel

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Hattie McDaniel may be best remembered for her Academy Award-winning role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind, but she got her start as a singer, traveling as a teenager with her family's Baptist tent show…
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Hattie McDaniel may be best remembered for her Academy Award-winning role of Mammy in Gone with the Wind, but she got her start as a singer, traveling as a teenager with her family's Baptist tent show and the vaudeville group the Spikes Brothers Comedy Stars. Her big break came in 1920 when "Professor" George Morrison, a popular Denver musician, hired her to star in his traveling Melody Hounds. She later toured with the Pantages vaudeville circuit and in 1926 made her recording debut. McDaniel began performing on-stage and toured with the Showboat company from 1929-1930. She ended up as a bathroom attendant at a Milwaukee nightclub, where the proprietor began using her as a singer. McDaniel moved to Los Angeles, and starred in the radio show The Optimistic Do-Nuts. She then began acting in films, and went on to appear in more than 70. In 1947, she began starring on radio in The Beulah Show. The show moved to TV in 1951, but McDaniel made only three episodes before discovering she had cancer. She died in 1952.