Film Academy to Replace Hattie McDaniel’s Missing Oscar in Ceremony at Howard University

Actor Hattie McDaniel c. 1940 with her original Academy Award plaque for Actress in a Supporting Role for Gone with the Wind (1939). Photo by Bettmann/Getty Images

Decades after it went missing, the long-lost Oscar won by Hattie McDaniel in 1940 will finally be replaced.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced Tuesday it will present a replacement plaque to the Howard University Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts during a special ceremony on Oct. 1.

McDaniel was the first Black person to be nominated for an Oscar, and in 1940 she made history with her Best Supporting Actress win for Gone With the Wind.

Because of her race, McDaniel was forced to sit at the back of the auditorium in the Ambassador Hotel, away from the other nominees at the segregated ceremony.

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McDaniel died in the 1952, and left her Oscar statue to Howard University. The award was displayed at the university drama department until it went missing the late 1960s.

Now the Academy will recognize McDaniel’s achievement by presenting a replacement statue to Howard, in a special ceremony led by Phylicia Rashad, dean of Howard’s Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts.

“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,” Rashad said in a statement.

“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!” Rashad continued.

“Hattie McDaniel was a groundbreaking artist who changed the course of cinema and impacted generations of performers who followed her. We are thrilled to present a replacement of Hattie McDaniel’s Academy Award to Howard University,” added Jacqueline Stewart, President of the Academy Museum, and Academy CEO Bill Kramer.

The actress and singer native received a plaque, which was customary for winners in supporting categories from 1936 to 1942.

The replacement ceremony titled “Hattie’s Come Home” will take place at Howard’s Ira Aldridge Theater in Washington, D.C.

McDaniel’s acceptance speech at the 12th Academy Awards can be viewed here.