- Before she became famous, she worked as a bathroom attendant and a traveling minstrel performer.
- Portrayed Queenie in the touring production of Show Boat; reprised the role in the film version starring Irene Dunne.
- Was one of the first African-American women to be broadcast on radio.
- Was the first African-American to win an Academy Award, for her performance in Gone with the Wind (1939); won the award over her costar, Olivia de Havilland.
- When criticized for constantly portraying domestic servants, she replied, "I'd rather play the part than be one."
- Has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
- 1939, Oscar — Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role: Winner
- Susan McDaniel — Mother
- Howard Hickman — Ex-husband
- James Lloyd Crawford — Ex-husband
- George Langford — Ex-husband
- Larry Williams — Ex-husband
- Henry McDaniel — Father