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Academy replaces Hattie McDaniel's Oscar that's been missing for 50 years

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Decades after it went missing, Hattie McDaniel's Academy Award is replaced.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

McDaniel was awarded best supporting actress in 1940 for playing Mammy in "Gone With The Wind."

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "GONE WITH THE WIND")

HATTIE MCDANIEL: (As Mammy) No use to try and sweet talk me Miss Scarlett, I knows you ever since I put the first pair of diapers on you. I says I was going to Atlanta with you, and going I is.

MARTÍNEZ: She was the first Black person to be awarded an Oscar.

(SOUNDBITE OF 12TH ACADEMY AWARDS)

MCDANIEL: 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, 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.

FADEL: Following McDaniel's death in 1952, her Oscar was donated to Howard University, but 20 years later, it went missing.

MARTÍNEZ: Last night, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave Howard a replacement. Here's the dean of the Chadwick A. Boseman College of Fine Arts, Phylicia Rashad.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PHYLICIA RASHAD: Today we celebrate not only the restoration of this treasure, but the power of intention.

FADEL: But the milestone Oscar win was not universally celebrated. The director of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Jacqueline Stewart, noted that last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JACQUELINE STEWART: The audience reception of the film ranged from high praise for her performance to sharp criticism for taking a role in a film that romanticizes periods of slavery and Reconstruction from a white supremacist point of view.

MARTÍNEZ: With that role, however, a daughter of formerly enslaved Americans broke a Hollywood color barrier. It would be half a century before another Black actress would follow her.

FADEL: In 1990, Whoopi Goldberg took home the Oscar for her supporting role in "Ghost."

(SOUNDBITE OF JERRY GOLDSMITH'S "GONE WITH THE WIND") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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