In a monumental moment in cinema history, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in collaboration with the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, is set to replace the long-lost Academy Award of actor Hattie McDaniel, honoring her remarkable contributions to the film industry.
A Tribute to Hattie McDaniel’s Legacy
The Academy’s Announcement and Celebration
In a recent statement, CEO Bill Kramer and Jacqueline Stewart, the director and president of the Academy Museum, paid homage to Hattie McDaniel, recognizing her as a “groundbreaking artist who changed the course of cinema and impacted generations of performers who followed her.”
A Pioneering Oscar Win
McDaniel’s Trailblazing Victory in 1940
Hattie McDaniel made history in 1940 when she became the first Black person to win an Oscar, securing the Best Supporting Actress award. However, it’s worth noting that she received a plaque instead of the traditional Oscar statuette, which was the Academy’s practice from 1936 to 1942.
Hattie McDaniel’s long-lost Academy Award is finally being replaced at a ceremony this weekend after it disappeared in the late 1960s. McDaniel was the first African American to win an Oscar for her supporting role in “Gone with the Wind.” pic.twitter.com/kw1MSiANrk
Upon her passing in 1952, McDaniel bequeathed her Oscar to Howard University. However, sometime in the late ’60s, the award mysteriously disappeared from the university’s collection, leaving her legacy incomplete.
A Symbolic Replacement
The Academy’s Gesture of Respect
As a symbol of respect and recognition for Hattie McDaniel’s enduring impact on cinema, the Academy has decided to replace the missing plaque with one of its iconic gold statuettes.
Honoring Hattie McDaniel
Howard University’s Celebration Event
To commemorate Hattie McDaniel’s legacy, Howard University will host a special ceremony titled “Hattie’s Come Home” at the university’s Ira Aldridge Theater on Oct. 1, 2023.
Notable Figures Pay Tribute
The event will feature distinguished speakers, including actor Phylicia Rashad, the current dean of Howard’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, Howard professor Khalid Long, and Jacqueline Stewart, president and director of the Academy Museum.
Carrying the Torch of Legacy
Hattie McDaniel’s Great-Grandnephew Speaks
Filmmaker and actor Kevin John Goff, Hattie McDaniel’s great-grandnephew, will also address the audience. He expressed his sentiments about this long-awaited honor, saying, “This was something my father wanted to see happen, but he passed in June 2012. I pick up the baton (so to speak) of the mission he had for furthering Hattie’s legacy.”
A Historic Moment Revisited
Remembering the 12th Annual Academy Awards
It’s essential to remember that during the 12th annual Academy Awards, Hattie McDaniel was segregated from her colleagues at the Ambassador Hotel. Nevertheless, when she took the stage to accept the award, she left an indelible mark with her words, saying, “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.”