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bansi4

"In the Spotlight"

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DANE CLARK

 

Quoted: "The only thing I want to do in films is be Mr. Joe Average as well as I know how. Of course, anyone whose face appears often enough on the screen is bound to have bobby-soxers after him for autogarphs. But what I really get a kick out of is when cab drivers around New York lean out and yell 'Hi Brooklyn' when I walk by. They make me feel I'm putting it across O.K. when I try to be Joe Average."

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Thanks very much for this fine review of Dane Clark's career, Mongo.

 

In answer to Miss Goddess' query about *Highly Dangerous* with *Margaret Lockwood*, this film _has_ been broadcast on TCM within the last six months. Sadly, it popped up on the schedule at about 4am. Early bird that I am, I caught it. It may have seemed to be deja vu for Lockwood (the milieu is very similar to *The Lady Vanishes* & Night Train to Munich), but it was fun to see Dane playing an educated man, (for once!). Perhaps it will show up again soon.

 

The film that Dane Clark made about the Harlem Globetrotters, called Go, Man, Go (1954), does show up on MSG TV occasionally. The semi-documentary feel of the movie is enhanced by the presence of several original Globetrotters, Sidney Poitier, Clark's sympathetic Abe Saperstein characterization and the cinematography of James Wong Howe--all served up on a shoestring budget. It's definitely worth a look, especially if you have youngsters in the household who might not fully understand the background of the Globetrotters.

 

Someday, I'm also hoping to find an affordable copy of the Simone Signoret-Dane Clark film that he made in France in 1950 called Gunman in the Streets (aka Le Traqu?). It usually shows up for over $125 on dvd... :-(

Until that happens, [here|http://www.noiroftheweek.com/2006/01/gunman-in-streets-1950.html] is an intriguing "noir of the week" article that features a video clip of this film. Of course, it would also be delightful if TCM could have a day of Dane Clark's films, featuring these obscure as well as his better known movies. He really did have a certain earthy something.

 

Btw, I'm psyched about Sept. 24th on TCM. One of Dane Clark's earliest appearances on film is finally going to be on TCM, featuring *Alan Ladd, Veronica Lake* and *Brian Donlevy* at their best in the adaptation of Dashiell Hammett's *The Glass Key* (1942) @ 11:30pm EDT.

 

I look forward to your next profile, Joe.

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Thank you, Moira. Glad that you found the profile of Dane Clark interesting.

I will be sure to watch for him in "The Glass Key" on TCM.

 

After tomorrow's 'In the Spotlight' profile which is a very special one, I will put the thread on hiatus for the remainder of the summer.

I will then feature a new thread titled "CANDIDS" which I believe members of the TCM board will enjoy. I will go into further details as the time progresses.

 

Mongo aka Joe

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In the Spotlight: HATTIE McDANIEL

 

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The wonderful character actress was born June 10, 1895, in Wichita, Kansas, to former slaves and Civil War soldier Henry McDaniel and Susan Holbert, a singer of religious music. She was the youngest of thirteen children.

In 1900, the family moved to Colorado, living first in Fort Collins and then in Denver, where Hattie grew up. McDaniel dropped out of East Denver High School after her sophomore year to enter show business.

She toured with her father's own Henry McDaniel minstrel show, which costarred her two brothers, Sam and Otis. In 1910, she was the only African American participant in a Women's Christian Temperance Union event in which she won a gold medal for reciting a poem entitled Convict Joe. Winning the award was what started and sparked her dream of becoming a performer.

 

In the mid-1920s she embarked on a radio career, singing with the Melony Hounds in Denver, and she also recorded many of her songs on Okeh Records.

 

When the stock market crashed in 1929, the only work McDaniel could find was as a washroom attendant and waitress at Club Madrid in Milwaukee. Despite the owner's reluctance to let her perform, McDaniel was eventually allowed to take the stage, and became a regular.

 

In 1931,she made her way to Los Angeles to join her brother Sam, sisters Etta and Orlena. When she could not get film work, she took jobs as a maid or cook. Sam was working on a radio program called The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour, and he was able to get his sister a spot. She appeared on radio as 'Hi-Hat Hattie', a bossy maid who often "forgets her place". Her show became extremely popular, but her salary was so low that she had to continue working as a maid.

Her first film appearance was in "The Golden West" (1932), as a maid, her second, was in the highly successful Mae West film, "I'm No Angel", as one of the plump black maids West camped it up with backstage at West's circus performances.

In the early years of the 1930s she received roles in several films, often singing in choruses. In 1934, McDaniel joined the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), and began to attract attention and finally landed larger film roles that began to win her screen credits. Fox Film Corporation put her under contract to appear in "The Little Colonel" (1935), with Shirley Temple, Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, and Lionel Barrymore.

 

1934's "Judge Priest", directed by John Ford and starring Will Rogers, was the first film in which she would receive a major role. She had a leading part in the film and demonstrated her singing talent, including a duet with Rogers. McDaniel and Rogers became friends during filming. McDaniel had prominent roles in 1935 with her classic hilarious performance as a slovenly maid in RKOs "Alice Adams", and a delightfully comic part as Jean Harlow's maid/traveling companion in MGM's "China Seas", the latter her first film with Clark Gable. She had a featured role as Queenie in Universal Pictures' 1936 version of "Show Boat" starring Irene Dunne, and sang a verse of 'Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man' with Helen Morgan, Paul Robeson, and the African-American chorus. She had major roles in MGM's "Saratoga" (1937), starring Jean Harlow and Clark Gable, "The Shopworn Angel" (1938) with Margaret Sullavan, and "The Mad Miss Manton" (1938), starring Barbara Stanwyck and Henry Fonda.

 

McDaniel had befriended several of Hollywood's most popular white stars, including Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda, Ronald Reagan, Olivia de Havilland and Clark Gable. It was around this time that she began to be criticized by members of the black community for roles she was choosing to take. "The Little Colonel" depicted black servants longing for a return to the Old South. Ironically, McDaniel's portrayal of Malena in "Alice Adams" angered white Southern audiences. She managed to steal several scenes away from the film's star, Katharine Hepburn. This was the type of role she would be best known for, the sassy, independently minded, and opinionated maid.

 

The competition in "Gone with the Wind" to play Mammy had been almost as stiff as that for Scarlett O'Hara. McDaniel did not think she would be chosen, because she was known for being a comic actress. Clark Gable recommended the role go to McDaniel, and when she went to her audition dressed in an authentic maid's uniform, Selznick knew he had found Mammy. Gable was delighted to be working again with McDaniel.

 

The Loew's Grand Theatre on Peachtree Street in Atlanta, Georgia, was selected as the theatre for the premiere of Gone with the Wind, Friday, December 15, 1939. When the date of the Atlanta premiere approached, all the black actors were barred from attending, and excluded from being in the souvenir program. David Selznick had at least attempted to bring Hattie McDaniel, but MGM advised him not to because of Georgia's segregationist laws, which would have required McDaniel to stay in a coloured-only hotel, and prevented her from sitting in the theater with her white peers. Clark Gable angrily threatened to boycott the Atlanta premiere unless McDaniel was allowed to attend, but McDaniel convinced him to attend anyway. She did attend the Hollywood debut on December 28, 1939.

 

It was her role as the sassy servant who repeatedly scolds her mistress, Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh), and scoffs at Rhett Butler (Clark Gable), that won McDaniel the 1939 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, making her the first African American to win an Oscar. She was also the first African American ever to be nominated. "I loved Mammy," McDaniel said. "I think I understood her because my own grandmother worked on a plantation not unlike Tara". Her role in "Gone with the Wind" had scared her Southern audience and in the South, there were complaints that in the film she had been too familiar with her white employer.

 

In her Oscar acceptance she put her heart right into those words and expressed not only for herself, but for every member of her race, the gratitude she felt that she had been given recognition by the Academy.

One of her proudest possessions is the red silk petticoat that David Selznick gave her when she finished "Gone with the Wind".

 

As the 1940s progressed, the servant roles McDaniel and other African American performers had so frequently played were subjected to increasingly strong criticism by groups such as the NAACP. In response to the NAACP's criticism, McDaniel replied, "I'd rather play a maid and make $700 a week than be one for $7."

 

In the 1940s she continued to play domestics (what else?), in "The Great Lie" starring Bette Davis, "They Died with Their Boots On", "The Male Animal", a fine turn in "In This Our Life", "Johnny Come Lately" with Cagney, "Thank Your Lucky Stars" with an all star cast, and belted out the musical number "Ice Cold Katie", and as Fidelia in the superior drama "Since You Went Away", in which her feistiness was toned down.

 

She joined Clarence Muse for an NBC radio broadcast to raise funds for Red Cross relief programs for Americans, many of them black, who had been displaced by the year's devastating floods. Within the black community, she gained a reputation for generous giving, often without question feeding and lending money to friends and stranger alike.

 

She rounded out the 1940s with "Margie", Disney's "Song of the South" and made her last film appearances in "Mickey" and "Family Honeymoon", but was still quite active in her final years on radio and television, becoming the first major African American radio star with her comedy series Beulah. She starred in the ABC television version, taking over for Ethel Waters after the first season. It was a hit, earning McDaniel $2,000 a week. After filming a handful of episodes, however, McDaniel learned she had breast cancer. By the spring of 1952, she was too ill to work and was replaced by Louise Beavers.

 

Hattie had a beautiful home in the Sugar Hill section of Los Angeles and she was maried 4 times. Her first husband died during the union, while the other 3 ended in divorce.

 

McDaniel died of breast cancer at age 57, in the hospital on the grounds of the Motion Picture House in Woodland Hills, on October 26, 1952. She was survived at the time by her brother, Sam "Deacon" McDaniel, a film actor. Thousands of mourners turned out to remember her life and accomplishments. It was her wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery on Santa Monica Boulevard in Hollywood, along with her fellow movie stars, Douglas Fairbanks, Rudolph Valentino, and others. McDaniel wrote: "I desire a white casket and a white shroud; white gardenias in my hair and in my hands, together with a white gardenia blanket and a pillow of red roses" I also wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery". The owner, Jules 'Jack' Roth, refused to allow her to be interred there, because they did not take blacks. Her second choice was Rosedale Cemetery, where she lies today.

In 1999, Tyler Cassity, the new owner of the Hollywood Cemetery, who had renamed it Hollywood Forever Cemetery, wanted to right the wrong and have Miss McDaniel interred in the cemetery. Her family did not want to disturb her remains after the passage of so much time, and declined the offer. Hollywood Forever Cemetery then did the next best thing and built a large cenotaph memorial on the lawn overlooking the lake in honor of McDaniel. It is one of the most popular sites for visitors.

 

The "Oscar" that Hattie won was placed in the keeping of Howard University in Washington, D.C. The statue disappeared during racial unrest on the Washington, D.C., campus in the late 1960s. The last will filed for probate disposed of less than $10,000 to a few relatives and friends, her estate had been eroded by medical costs.

 

Hattie has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood: one for her contributions to radio , and one for motion pictures. In 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame posthumously.

 

McDaniel was featured as the 29th inductee on the Black Heritage Series by the United States Postal Service. She was the first black Oscar winner honoured with a stamp. The 39-cent stamp was released on January 29, 2006. This stamp features a 1941 photograph of McDaniel in the dress she wore on January 25, 1940.

 

The ceremony took place at the Margaret Herrick Library of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, where the Hattie McDaniel collection includes photographs of McDaniel and other family members, as well as scripts and other documents. "She was a most special lady," McDaniel's "Gone with the Wind" co-star Ann Rutherford told AP Television News. Rutherford recalled how McDaniel thought some of her friends looked down on her for playing a maid "But (McDaniel) said, I'd rather play a maid than be a maid", Rutherford said.

 

Souces: Wickipedia; IMDb; What a Character; Who's Who in Hollywood.

 

Message was edited by: mongo

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Hattie, Shirley Temple & Bill 'Bojangles' Robinson in "The Little Colonel" (1935)

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Hattie as Malena in a hilarious scene from "Alice Adams" with

Fred MacMurray and Katharine Hepburn (1935)

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Helen Morgan, Hattie & Irene Dunne in "Show Boat" (1936)

 

Message was edited by: mongo

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Nice and informative profile on Hattie McDaniel. I'm always glad to see her in any film. She was great in *Gone With The Wind.* She does a lot with her small role in *In This Our Life.* She was very funny in films like *China Seas* and is arguably the best reason to watch *The Mad Miss Manton.* I love when she gets a chance to sing, like in *Saratoga,* *Thank Your Lucky Stars* and other films.

 

I wish she could have lived longer and perhaps have had more doors open up for her. I think she would have gained in popularity into the fifties and sixties and maybe beyond. As it stands, she left a great legacy which I will always remember.

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