McDaniel was born in 1895. She was a native of Wichita, Kansas. She was known for her acting and singing/songwriting. When she was 5, her family moved to Colorado. She graduated from Denver East High School. Her brother was also an actor. He was the butler in a shot film in 1948, Heavenly Daze. McDaniel had appeared in a black ensemble called Melody Hounds from 1920-1925. She recorded her congs with 2 different recording companies between 1926 and 1929. All together she had 7 recording sessions. In 1929, she took a job as a waitress at a Milwaukee club where she had then became a performing regular. She set out for Los Angeles in 1931 but could not find work as a performer and took a job as a maid. Eventually she got a job with her brother on a radio program and was known as Hi-Hat Hattie. In 1932, she finally had her first appearance as an actrees in The Golden West. After joining the Screen Actors Guild in 1934, she began landing major roles in larger film companies. She later won an Academy Award for her acting in Gone With the Wind. This caused her to be the first African American to receive one. She had died at 57 in California due to breast cancer.