By Stephen Bourne
Butterfly McQueen will constantly be remembered for her first reveal role―as Scarlett O'Hara's hysterical servant lady, Prissy, in Gone With the Wind (1939)―and for her most renowned line within the Civil struggle epic: "I do not know nuthin' 'bout birthin' babies!" although many criticized her for taking part in an offensive sketch of black womanhood, movie student Donald Bogle claims her functionality is "a designated blend of the comedian and the pathetic." uninterested in taking part in what she known as "stupid maids," even though, Butterfly grew to become her again on Hollywood within the Nineteen Forties and spent the subsequent fifty years in obscurity. On numerous events she attempted to restore her theatrical profession, yet her id with Prissy made it tricky for her to be taken heavily by means of manufacturers and casting brokers. more often than not she supported herself through taking menial jobs.
In the Seventies she used to be energetic in social paintings tasks in Harlem, and used to be offered a level via the town collage of recent York. In 1989, as one of many final surviving individuals of the forged of Gone With the Wind, Butterfly fortunately participated within the film's fiftieth anniversary celebrations. on the time of the celebrations she acknowledged: "Now i'm chuffed I did Gone With the Wind. I wasn't while i used to be 28, yet it really is a part of black historical past. you don't have any notion how difficult it truly is for black actors, yet issues swap, issues blossom in time."
In Butterfly McQueen Remembered, writer Stephen Bourne, who corresponded with Butterfly for a few years, attracts upon 20 years of analysis to rfile her existence and profession. From her memorable function in a single of Hollywood's maximum movies to her final substantial reveal visual appeal contrary Harrison Ford in The Mosquito Coast, the main points of McQueen's existence are captured during this intimate portrait. Bourne chronicles the ups and downs of this proficient and beneficiant woman's lifestyles, either in entrance of the digicam and much from its obtrusive highlight.
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Extra resources for Butterfly McQueen Remembered
What historians might explore, in this particular instance, is whether black audiences saw these characters as tricksters; their own words, actions, and gestures reinterpreted as subversive acts in which white folks become the target of ridicule. —Robin D. G. Kelley, “Notes on Deconstructing ‘The Folk,’” American Historical Review For me, it was not enough to dismiss Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen as mere mammy and pickaninny. Anyone who had seen them in 21 22 Chapter 3 Gone With the Wind and left the theater with no more than that impression really missed or ignored the strength of the performances, and at the same time denied black America a certain cultural heritage.
In the script, Rhett Butler refers to Prissy as a “simple-minded darkie,” a term Butterfly found insulting and unnecessary. Her objections were overruled and the line remained in the script. And while the script called for Prissy to have her hair wrapped in a head scarf in the traditional “slave girl” style, Butterfly insisted on substituting colorful bows. Again, her objections were overruled. She voiced her objections when all the black actors were forced to travel in one car to the set, while the white actors rode in several limousines.
20 Chapter 2 12. Lawrence J. Quirk and William Schoell, Joan Crawford: The Essential Biography (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2002), 102. 13. “Butterfly McQueen: Who Knew Her Mind Before ‘Stereotype’ Discovered,” Variety, November 24, 1971. 14. Pam Fessler, “Butterfly’s Flights of Fancy,” The Record, April 2, 1978, 21. 15. Tinkerbelle, “McQueen for a Day,” Andy Warhol’s Interview 4, no. 11, November 1974, 18–19. 16. Stephen B. Oates, Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, Jr.