Thelma "Butterfly" McQueen (January 7, 1911 – December 22, 1995) was an American actress. She was originally a dancer. McQueen first appeared on screen in 1939, as "Prissy", Scarlett O'Hara's maid in the movie Gone with the Wind. She continued as an actress in movies through the 1940s, then moving to television acting in the 1950s.
in Affectionately Yours (1941)
January 7, 1911
Tampa, Florida, U.S.
|Died||December 22, 1995 (aged 84)|
Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
|Cause of death||Burns sustained in a fire|
|Alma mater||City College of New York|
Butterfly was born Thelma McQueen in Tampa, Florida. She was planning to become a nurse until a high-school teacher suggested that she try acting. McQueen studied with Janet Collins and went on to dance with the Venezuela Jones Negro Youth Group. Around this time she received the nickname "Butterfly" because of her constantly moving hands in the Butterfly Ballet in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. She had always hated her birth name, and later legally changed her name to Butterfly McQueen. She performed with the dance troupe of Katherine Dunham. She made her professional debut in George Abbott's Brown Sugar.
She also played a small part as a sales assistant in The Women (1939). She also played "Butterfly", Rochester's niece and Mary Livingstone's maid in the Jack Benny radio program, for a time during World War II. She appeared in a small role in Mildred Pierce (1945) and played a supporting role in Duel in the Sun (1946). By 1947, she had grown tired of the ethnic stereotypes she was required to play. She then ended her movie career.
Offers for acting roles began to decline around this time, and she devoted herself to other pursuits including political study; she received a bachelor's degree in political science from City College of New York in 1975. In 1979 McQueen won a Daytime Emmy Award for her performance as Aunt Thelma, a fairy godmother in the ABC Afterschool Special episode "The Seven Wishes of Joanna Peabody." She had one more role of substance in the 1986 movie The Mosquito Coast.
In July 1983, a jury awarded McQueen US$60,000 in a judgment stemming from a lawsuit she filed against two bus-terminal security guards. McQueen sued for harassment after she claimed the security guards accused her of being a pickpocket and a vagrant while she was at a bus terminal in April 1979.
McQueen died at age 84 on December 22, 1995 at Augusta Regional Medical Center in Augusta. She died from burns she had gotten when a kerosene heater she tried to light malfunctioned and burst into flames.
|1939||The Women||Lulu - Cosmetics Counter Maid||Uncredited|
|1939||Gone with the Wind||Prissy|
|1943||Cabin in the Sky||Lily|
|1943||I Dood It||Annette||Alternative title: By Hook or by Crook|
|1945||Flame of Barbary Coast||Beulah – Flaxen's Maid||Alternative title: Flame of the Barbary Coast|
|1945||Mildred Pierce||Lottie – Mildred's Maid||Uncredited|
|1946||Duel in the Sun||Vashti||Alternative title: King Vidor's Duel in the Sun|
|1950||Studio One||Episode: "Give Us Our Dream"|
|1950 to 1953||Beulah||Oriole||4 episodes|
|1951||Lux Video Theatre||Mary||Episode: "Weather for Today"|
|1957||Hallmark Hall of Fame||Episode: "The Green Pastures"|
|1978||ABC Weekend Special||Aunt Thelma||Episode: "The Seven Wishes of Joanna Peabody"|
|1979||ABC Afterschool Special||Aunt Thelma||Episode: "Seven Wishes of a Rich Kid"|
|1981||The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn||Television movie|
|1985||Adventures of Huckleberry Finn||Blind Negress||Television movie|
|1986||The Mosquito Coast||Ma Kennywick|
|1988||The Making of a Legend: Gone With The Wind||Herself (Interview)||Television documentary|
|1989||Polly||Miss Priss||Television movie|
- JM Appel234. Butterfly McQueen. St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Jan. 1 2000.
- Hubbard Burns, Diane (1980-02-08). "Butterfly McQueen's a Character". The Palm Beach Post. p. B1. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- "Butterfly McQueen, 84, 'Gone With the Wind' Actress, Dies From Burns". Jet (Johnson Publishing Company) 89 (9): 60. 1996-01-15. ISSN 0021-5996.
- "The Seven Wishes of Joanna Peabody" – via www.imdb.com.
- Edward T. James (2004). Notable American Women: A Biographical Dictionary. Sicherman, Barbara; Wilson James, Janet; Boyer, Paul S.; Ware, Susan. Harvard University Press. p. 438. ISBN 0-674-01488-X.
- Place, John (1983-07-13). "Butterfly McQueen Wins $60,000". The Pittsburgh Press. p. A2. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
- Alvarez, Lizette (1995-12-23). "Butterfly McQueen Dies at 84; Played Scarlett O'Hara's Maid". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-03-14.
- Suman, Michael (1997). Religion and Prime Time Television. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 22. ISBN 0-275-96034-X.