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Film academy to replace Hattie McDaniel’s historic missing Oscar at Howard University

Academy to replace Hattie McDaniel’s missing Oscar

Academy to replace Hattie McDaniel’s missing Oscar


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will gift a replacement of Hattie McDaniel’s historic best supporting actress Oscar to Howard University in Washington, D.C., the organization announced Tuesday. McDaniel was the first Black person to win an Oscar for her supporting performance as Mammy in the 1939 classic “Gone with the Wind.”

The Oscar will be presented to the school’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts on Oct. 1 in a ceremony titled “Hattie’s Come Home.” 

At the segregated 12th Academy Awards ceremony in 1940 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, McDaniel and her guest sat separately from the other nominees, the academy said.  

“It has made me feel very, very humble and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything I may be able to do in the future,” McDaniel said in her acceptance speech. “I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry. My heart is too full to tell you just how I feel. And may I say thank you and God bless you.”

Hattie McDaniel with Academy Award
Actress Hattie McDaniel is shown with the Oscar plaque she received for winning best supporting actress at the Academy Awards for her portrayal in “Gone With The Wind.” March 2, 1940, in Los Angeles, California. The award was for best supporting actress, and was made at the 12th annual Academy Awards ceremony.

Bettmann via Getty Images

Instead of a statue at the time, however, McDaniel received a plaque that was customary for supporting performance winners between 1936 and 1942, according to the academy.   

Upon her death in 1952, the actress bequeathed her Oscar to Howard University, and the award was displayed in the school’s drama department up until the late 1960s, according to the academy. 

However, it has since mysteriously disappeared, and its whereabouts remain unknown, the academy said. 

“Hattie McDaniel was a groundbreaking artist who changed the course of cinema and impacted generations of performers who followed her. We are thrilled to present a replacement of Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award to Howard University,” Jacqueline Stewart, Academy Museum president, and Bill Kramer, chief executive of the academy, said in a joint statement. “This momentous occasion will celebrate Hattie McDaniel’s remarkable craft and historic win.”

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