Black History Month: Gone With the Wind's 'Prissy' Tampa native - WFLA News Channel 8

Black History Month: Gone With the Wind's 'Prissy' Tampa native

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Butterfly McQueen as Prissy Butterfly McQueen as Prissy
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - Butterfly McQueen made cinematic strides in the movie 'Gone With the Wind' at time in history when many African-Americans weren't featured in mainstream films.

Perhaps the thing she was known for most, is this line from that movie: "Oh lawdy Miss Scarlet, we got to have a doctor... I don't know nothing about birthing no babies."

That line changed her career. She was 28 when she auditioned for the role of Prissy. She hoped the film would  lead to better roles, but that never panned out. Like many others, she ended up typecast as maids and servants. 

Before acting, Butterfly McQueen was also a dancer. In fact, the name Butterfly was the nickname she was given for her performance of the Butterfly Ballet in a production of  'A Midsummer Night's Dream.'

Later she legally changed it to Butterfly, but she was actually born Thelma. And she was born here in Tampa.

Chief Hillsborough County Librarian Margaret Rials said that Butterfly McQueen was born on Jan. 7th 1911 in a house behind the (old) Beulah Baptist Church on Central Avenue.

McQueen later moved to Augusta, GA. But she never forgot her roots in Tampa.

"A number of years ago she happened to be in Tampa and visited our Ybor City branch library which is now the Robert Saunders library and our library director Joe Stines was working there and got to meet her and talk to her," Rials said.

In 1995 Butterfly McQueen died from burns sustained in a house fire in Augusta, GA. She was 84 years old.
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