Kay Bourne Arts Report – Issue #10

Contents

HATTIE MCDANIEL HONORED ONCE AGAIN

“BROAD COMEDY” TAPS LOCAL COLLEGE TALENT

THE LIFE OF BARBARA JORDAN SHINES THROUGH IN “VOICE OF GOOD HOPE”

TIME TO JAZZ IT UP! SHE’S A GEM

ONE LOVE DVD & CD

THE FIRST WEEKEND CLUB – NOW IN BOSTON

CIRCLE OF SONG’s “MEETING” THIS SATURDAY

UPCOMING EVENTS


HATTIE MCDANIEL HONORED ONCE AGAIN

by Kay Bourne

4095701389a1713cff193106ad135fd3.124.62 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #10 HATTIE McDANIEL, the first African American to win an Academy Award, was honored by the U.S. Postal Service, as the 29th inductee into the 2006 Black Heritage Series, with a stamp in her likeness. Appropriately, the 39 cent stamp was first issued from the Beverly Hills’ post office.

McDaniel is, undoubtedly, best known as the out- spoken ‘Mammy’ in the 1938 epic motion picture, “Gone With The Wind,” about white, plantation life, for which she won the Academy Award. The story, written from a racist perspective, focuses on how white Southerners suffered during the Civil War, and how they recovered their dignity.

McDaniel, however, had begun her show business career as a comedienne and Blues singer. A new biography by Jill Watts energetically tells McDaniel’s story in wonderful detail, “Hattie McDaniel/ Black Ambition, White Hollywood” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2005).

Ironically, in those early years on the stage, McDaniel was a great favorite with black audiences because the skits she wrote and starred in attacked the character so favored by white racists, the plantation Mammy. She exposed the stereotype as utterly ridiculous by exaggerating it to grotesque extremes. African American audiences loved her parody of the foolish, silly, and asexual Mammy.

The daughter of slaves, Hattie McDaniel was close to her father who had not only liberated himself by fleeing to a “contraband camp” protected by Union soldiers marching into the South, but joined up as a soldier himself. He was wounded, but kept in the fight, and throughout his life proudly wore his medal of honor. He suffered for the rest of his life from wounds he received at the Battle of Nashville, but like many black veterans, he got inequitable treatment from the government although he petitioned continually for the benefits he was due. Hattie McDaniel grew up in want but knew about persistence and strength in family loyalty.

Once McDaniel began getting roles in films, she wanted the biggest career she could maneuver. She went after the role of Mammy in “Gone With The Wind,” based on the best selling novel by Margaret Mitchell which saw the antebellum South as an era of greatness.

McDaniel collaborated with white racism in the harsh and unforgiving world of Hollywood, in order to advance her career, but her interpretation of Mammy was not the fantasy servant Mitchell had written. When David O. Selznick saw the final cut, he unexpectedly discovered Mammy had emerged as one of the film’s strongest characters. “A performance,” he wrote, “if merit alone rules, would entitle her practically to co-starring.”

As Watts writes, “she was hardly the slow, elderly and ‘lumbering’” character Mitchell had in mind, “indeed loyal and devoted, but also bossy, intelligent, loud, and opinionated.”

Moreover, if you look closely in some scenes, Mammy wears a large, expensive-looking ring and has nicely manicured nails.

Order McDANIEL US Postal stamps


“BROAD COMEDY” TAPS LOCAL COLLEGE TALENT

by Kay Bourne

8c435551e96f7c27b3de93ba2b2c4857.124.93 Kay Bourne Arts Report   Issue #10MFONISO UDOFIA says that being “a little bit of a leftie” puts her at ease with the feminist and politically liberal “Broad Comedy”skits. “I love the material!” says the newest addition to the cast and the show’s only local performer.

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