Oscar’s First Black Winner Accepted Her Honor in a Segregated ‘No Blacks’ Hotel in L.A.

“On a February afternoon in 1940, Hattie McDaniel — then one of the biggest African-American movie stars in the world — marched into the Culver City offices of producer David O. Selznick and placed a stack of Gone With the Wind reviews on his desk. The Civil War epic, released two months earlier, had become an instant cultural sensation, and McDaniel’s portrayal of Mammy — the head slave at Tara, the film’s fictional Southern plantation — was being singled out by both white and African-American critics as extraordinary. The Los Angeles Times even praised her work as "worthy of Academy supporting awards.” Selznick took the hint and submitted the 44-year-old for a nomination in the best supporting actress category, along with her co-star, Olivia de Havilland, contributing to the film’s record-setting 13 noms.“  

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David O. Selznick (producer), Joan Fontaine (actress), Alfred Hitchcock (director), and Judith Anderson (actress) at the 13th Academy Awards, 1941. All 4 were up for Oscars for Rebecca, which had eleven nominations but only won for Best Picture (Selznick) and Best Cinematography (George Barnes).

Alida Valli, 1947

An Italian star, she signed a contract with David O. Selznick - he thought she would be “a second Ingrid Bergman” - and made several successful films for him (The Paradine Case, The Third Man, The Miracle of the Bells), but she was not happy in Hollywood and returned to her native Italy in 1950.