1940 Academy Awards
The Twelfth Academy Awards took place at the Coconut Grove Restaurant of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. It was preceded by a banquet in the same room. Louella Parsons, an American gossip columnist, wrote about Oscar night, February 29, 1940:
“Hattie McDaniel earned that gold Oscar by her fine performance of ‘Mammy’ in
Gone with the Wind
If you had seen her face when she walked up to the platform and took the gold trophy, you would have had the choke in your voice that all of us had when Hattie, hair trimmed with gardenias, face alight, and dress up to the queen’s taste, accepted the honor in one of the finest speeches ever given on the Academy floor.“Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, fellow members of the motion picture industry and honored guests: This is one of the happiest moments of my life, and I want to thank each one of you who had a part in selecting me for one of their awards, for your kindness. It has made me feel very, very humble; and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything that I may be able to do in the future. 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.
— Hattie McDaniel: Acceptance Speech delivered on February 29, 1940, at the 12th Annual Academy Awards
McDaniel received a plaque-style Oscar, approximately 5 ½ x 6 inches, the type awarded to all Best Supporting Actors and Actresses at that time. McDaniel and her escort were required to sit at a segregated table for two.
Gone with the Wind was awarded ten Academy Awards, a record that stood for years, and was later named by the American Film Institute (AFI) as number four among the top 100 American films of all time.