The Golden Age of Hollywood

Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel

Today during philosophy class we were asked by our teacher to talk about a person that influenced something important. While everybody else was picking Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Hitler, I chose the great Hattie McDaniel. Of course no one knew who she was.

Well, Hattie McDaniel was the first African-american to win an Academy Award. Most of you might remember her for her role as Mammy in "Gone With The Wind". She was born in Kansas on the 10th of June, 1892 and frequently played "the bossy maid" on 30's/40's flicks.
She was "the first black" to do many things, such as being buried in Los Angeles' Rosedale Cemetery and attending the Academy Awards as a guest (not a servant).
Although she played several roles on motion pictures, she was not very rich. When she passed, in 1952, she left her husband with only US$1.
Hattie, besides being married 4 times, also had an affair with bon vivant Tallulah Bankhead.
She delivered one of the most famous and touching Oscar speech:
"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."
But unfortunatelly her Oscar was lost during the 60's. It has never been found.

Now let's talk about Sidney Poitier. While doing a research of important facts that happend on my birthday (April 13), I found this note at Wikipedia: "1964 – At the Academy Awards, Sidney Poitier becomes the first African-American male to win the Best Actor award for Lilies of the Field". My first thought was "WOW!That's so cool!". And it really is.

The first movie I saw with Poitier was "Guess Who's Coming To Dinner" (will air tonight on brazilian TCM, by the way). I thought he was a very nice gentleman and was glad that his character, Dr. Prentice, dealed with the problems he faced with calm and cleverness.
Sidney was born in 1927, raised in poverty and with little education. He was mistreated and suffered from segregation, which made him want to fight back and prove people that he was worth it. He acted and directed and until this day he is still one of the greatest and most respected actors in the showbiz.

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