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Festival to honor Hattie McDaniel

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 1 (UPI) -- The Wichita Association for the Motion Picture Arts will honor Wichita-born actress Hattie McDaniel, organizers have announced.

On the closing night of its 2004 Tallgrass Film Festival on Oct. 10, the organization will present a letter from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to the Kansas African American Museum, recognizing McDaniel's contributions to the film industry. McDaniel was the first African-American to win an Academy Award, when she was named Best Supporting Actress for the 1939 epic "Gone with the Wind."

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Wichita Mayor Carlos Mayans has issued a proclamation declaring Oct. 10 Hattie McDaniel Day in the city.

McDaniel made her film debut in 1932, appearing in more than a half dozen films that year -- including "The Golden West," in which she played a maid named Mammy Lou. She was criticized by some leaders of the black community for her willingness to play those typees of characters -- which in many cases were the only roles available for black performers at the time.

When McDaniel died in 1952, she willed her Oscar to Howard University in Washington, D.C. The statuette hasn't been seen since it disappeared mysteriously during the 1960s.

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