She was the first African American actress to receive an Academy Award, which she won for her supporting role as Mammy in Gone with the Wind. Her other credits include Beulah and Family Honeymoon.
She could not attend the Academy Awards ceremony to receive her Best Supporting Actress Award for Gone with the Wind because of segregation laws.
Clark Gable costarred with her in Gone with the Wind.
She worked as a maid, a washroom attendant, and a cook when she couldn't get acting jobs.
She married George Langford in 1922, but he died shortly after the marriage. Her brother Sam McDaniel played the butler in the Three Stooges film, Heavenly Daze.