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Sun, 01.08.1911

Butterfly McQueen, Actress born

Butterfly McQueen

On this date we celebrate the birth of Butterfly McQueen in 1911.  She was a Black actress.

Thelma McQueen (her birth name) was the daughter of a stevedore and a domestic worker.  She was an only child from Tampa, Florida and got the name Butterfly after appearing in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, in which she danced in the Butterfly Ballet.   Her most known acting role was portrayed as Scarlett O’Hara’s squeaky-voiced maid, Prissy in Gone With The Wind.

Although Gone With The Wind went on to become a huge success, McQueen found it difficult finding work as an actress. She was often typecast in roles as maids and said, “I didn’t mind playing a maid the first time, because I thought that was how you got into the business. But after I did the same thing over and over, I resented it. I didn’t mind being funny, but I didn’t like being stupid.”

McQueen could not attend Gone With The Wind’s premiere because it was held in a whites only theater, but she was a guest of honor at its 50th anniversary celebration in 1989. In 1975 at age 64 McQueen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from New York’s City College.  In 1980 she won an Emmy for her performance in a children’s production, The Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid.

Butterfly McQueen McQueen died at age 84 on December 22, 1995, at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, from burns sustained when a kerosene heater she attempted to light malfunctioned and burst into flames.  McQueen donated her body to medical science and remembered the Freedom From Religion Foundation in her will.

Reference:
Black Women in America An Historical Encyclopedia
Volumes 1 and 2, edited by Darlene Clark Hine
Copyright 1993, Carlson Publishing Inc., Brooklyn, New York
ISBN 0-926019-61-9

To become an Actor or Actress

Reference:

Black-Face.com

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