BUTTERFLY MCQUEEN Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Butterfly McQueen                                                               
Born: 7 January 1911                                                                   
Died: 22 December 1995                                                                 
Butterfly McQueen (January 7, 1911 – December 22, 1995) was a American film and     
television actress best known for the role of "Prissy" in Gone With the Wind.         
Born Thelma McQueen in Tampa, Florida, she trained as a dancer and took her           
stage name from the "Butterfly Dance" after performing it in a production of A         
Midsummer Night's Dream. She performed with the dance troupes of Katherine             
Dunham and Janet Collins before making her professional debut in George Abbott's       
Brown Sugar.                                                                           
McQueen made her first film in 1939 in what would become her most identifiable         
role—as Prissy, the young maid in Gone with the Wind, uttering the famous words:     
"I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies!" She also played an uncredited bit       
part as a sales assistant in The Women, filmed after Gone with the Wind but           
released before it. Around this time McQueen also modeled for the Mrs.                 
Butterworth bottle. She also played Butterfly, Mary Livingstone's maid in the         
Jack Benny radio program, for a time during World War II. But by 1947 she had         
grown tired of the ethnic stereotypes she was required to play and ended her           
film career.                                                                           
By 1950 she had played another racially-stereotyped role for two years on the         
television series Beulah, which reunited her with her Gone with the Wind co-star       
Hattie McDaniel.                                                                       
Her acting roles, one of them in 1970 was the Shady Grove Music Fair post             
Broadway production of THE FRONT PAGE, after this were very few, and she devoted       
herself to other pursuits including study, and received a bachelor's degree in         
political science in 1975. In 1979 McQueen won a Daytime Emmy award for her           
performance as Aunt Thelma, a fairy godmother in the ABC After school special, 'Seven 
Wishes of a Rich Kid'. She had one more role of some substance in the 1986 film       
The Mosquito Coast.                                                                   
McQueen lived in New York in the summer months and lived in Augusta, Georgia in       
the winter months. She died in Augusta, Georgia as a result of burns received         
when a kerosene heater she was attempting to light malfunctioned and burst into       
flames. A lifelong atheist, she donated her body to medical science and               
remembered the Freedom From Religion Foundation in her will.