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Oscars flashback: Hats off to Hattie

February 4, 2009 |  7:48 am

Considering that there are two African-American women in the Oscars race for best supporting actress — Viola Davis ("Doubt") and Taraji P. Hanson ("Curious Case of Benjamin Button") — it's a good time to take a look back at Hattie McDaniel's breakthrough victory in 1939 for "Gone with the Wind." She beat Edna May Oliver ("Drums Along the Mohawk"), Olivia de Havilland ("Gone with the Wind"), Maria Ouspenskaya ("Love Affair") and Geraldine Fitzgerald ("Wuthering Heights").

What's notable about this clip is that it's edited to cut out the long time it took for McDaniel to get to the podium. She had been seated far in the back of the Coconut Grove at the Ambassador Hotel.

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I believe Hattie re-filmed this speech after the awards were given out. The parts where it shows her coming up the podium and exiting the podium are real-time, but then she was asked to re-film her speech, which is what this clip is. Still sad that she was seated in the back knowing that she was a winner.

On the first years, the winners for Supporting Roles received a plaque, then in the 50's the Academy replaced the plaques for statuettes, giving to the former winners their respective Oscars. Some of them even keep the old plaque.

Didn't they release the names before hand back then too in the LA Times? So they knew she was going to win and still stuck her in the back? That's lovely.

Did she receive a plaque or statue?

An effective, simple yet powerful speech. Contrast that with Halle Berry's speech many years later.



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