Howard University Receives Replacement for Hattie McDaniel’s Missing Oscar

'Gone With the Wind' actress Hattie McDaniel requested that Howard University be given her Oscar for best supporting actress upon her death. It disappeared several years later.
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Evan Castillo is a reporter on BestColleges News and wrote for the Daily Tar Heel during his time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He's covered topics ranging from climate change to general higher education news, and he is passiona...
Published on October 4, 2023
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  • Hattie McDaniel was the first Black person to be nominated for and win an Academy Award.
  • McDaniel was seated with her guest in a segregated area the night she won the award for best supporting actress in 1940.
  • Plaques instead of statues were commonly given to supporting performance winners at that time.
  • Howard University received the replacement award at the "Hattie's Come Home" celebration featuring panelists and performances.

Howard University celebrated the arrival of Hattie McDaniel's replacement Academy Award — 50 years ago after the original disappeared.

Howard University, a historically Black college and university in Washington, D.C., hosted the "Hattie's Come Home" ceremony Oct. 1 to celebrate McDaniel's life and career and the replacement of her Oscar by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

McDaniel was the first Black person to be nominated for and win an Oscar. She won for best supporting actress for her role as Mammy in 1939's "Gone With the Wind."

McDaniel — who appeared in over 300 films and also was a singer, songwriter, comedian, and TV actress — died in 1952. Upon her death, she had requested that her Academy Award be given to Howard University.

The university's drama department featured the award until it disappeared in the late 1960s.

"When I was a student in the College of Fine Arts at Howard University, in what was then called the Department of Drama, I would often sit and gaze in wonder at the Academy Award that had been presented to Ms. Hattie McDaniel, which she had gifted to the College of Fine Arts," said Phylicia Rashad, dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, in a press release.

"I am overjoyed that this Academy Award is returning to what is now the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts at Howard University. This immense piece of history will be back in the College of Fine Arts for our students to draw inspiration from. Ms. Hattie is coming home!"

The celebration featured a panel including filmmaker and McDaniel's great-grandnephew Kevin John Goff, musical performances, and an excerpt of LaDarrion Williams' "Boulevard of Bold Dreams."

The celebration closed with a showing of McDaniel's acceptance speech, before academy representatives presented the replacement Oscar to the university.

"Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science[s], 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 the awards for your kindness," McDaniel said in her 1940 acceptance speech.

"It has made me feel very, very humble and I shall always hold it as a beacon for anything 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."