The magical movie year, 1939, produced some of the most renowned films of all time. Two that certainly stand out are The Wizard of Oz and Gone With The Wind.
In this post, I simply want to recognize two of the most incredible actresses of their time, as we celebrate their day of birth today.
Hattie McDaniel (June 10, 1885 – October 26, 1952) was the first black woman nominated for an Academy Award in 1939. She took that Best Supporting Actress Oscar home for her role as “Mammy” in Gone With The Wind.
At the premiere of the film at the Loew’s Theatre in Atlanta, segregation laws barred her from attending. According to Warren G. Harris, author Clark Gable: A Biography, Gable, Ms. McDaniels’ friend and co-star, had threatened to boycott his own attendance. It was only after she encouraged him to go, that he did. When she and her companion endured segregated seating away from the rest of the GWTW cast and crew at The Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles for the Oscars, she radiated with grace, pride, glamour and grandeur as she accepted her award from Fay Bainter that night. Not only did she showcase her talents on screen, she later also took entertainment to the troops during World War II as Chairman of the Negro Division of the Hollywood Victory Committee.
Before her humble tears at the Oscars, she said she hoped to be “a credit to her race”. Well, Ms. McDaniel, you opened doors in Hollywood that are still actually opening… Thank you.
Here is her acceptance speech at the 1940 12th Annual Academy Awards:
Judy Garland (June 10, 1922 – June 22, 1969) gained her international fame as “Dorothy Gale” in The Wizard of Oz. Prior to that, she’d held her own quite well as Mickey Rooney’s co-star in several films. In 1940, the movie won the Best Visual Effects award at the Oscars as well as the Best Original Song Oscar for Judy’s goosepimpling delivery of “Over The Rainbow”. She received a Special Academy Award for her “outstanding juvenile performance” in the film. (Oscars.org)
Ms. Garland continued to bring Hollywood, Broadway and her audiences watching the screen, stage and later television to its knees with her emotional depth and immensely strong vocals. She was, in a word – Something!
See for yourself…
Here she is singing “Over the Rainbow”:
and… Lord, have mercy –
“The Man That Got Away”:
In times of trouble in Kansas and Georgia respectively, The Wizard of Oz showed us the beautiful rainbow and Gone With The Wind gave us some glorious sunsets to wallow within. These dynamic women helped bring them to light for us in so many ways.
Thinking of you both today…