On February 29th, 1940, Hattie McDaniel earned the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her role as Mammy in Gone With the Wind, becoming the first African American to win an Oscar.
Yet on the night McDaniel became the first black American to be honored by the motion picture industry, she could not escape being reminded of how far the industry and the country had yet to go to overcome racism: McDaniel and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table, apart from both her Gone with the Wind colleagues and those in the motion picture industry.
The 12th Academy Awards were held at the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub in The Ambassador Hotel. When McDaniel arrived she was lead to a small table set against a far wall, where she took a seat with her escort, F.P. Yober, and her white agent, William Meiklejohn. With the hotel’s strict no-blacks policy, producer David O. Selznick had to call in a special favor just to have McDaniel allowed into the building (it was officially integrated by 1959, when the Unruh Civil Rights Act outlawed racial discrimination in California). (via)
"Conceited, spoiled, and arrogant- all of those things, of course, are true to the character. But she had courage and determination, and that, I think, is why women must secretly admire her." -Vivien Leigh
"No one can remain a lady after saying and doing what I have just overheard. However, ladies have seldom head any charm for me. I know what they are thinking, but they never have the courage or lack of breeding to say what they think. And that, in time, becomes a bore." -Rhett Butler
Five minutes after they’d met,’ Clarence Sinclair Bull recalled, ‘she wrapped him round her little finger…she really had charm.’ Charm, but not as far as Gable was concerned the sexiness that might have fired their on-screen romance. He was more curious about this woman than amorous towards her. Above all, he was wary of her…Vivien, for her part, was not sexually attracted to Gable. Just as she could not see Olivier as Rhett Butler, now she could not visualize Gable as a substitute for Olivier. Both men were dedicated to different art forms and belonged to different romantic traditions.” -Alexander Walker