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Black Actress May Get Part of Wish

October 24, 1999 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Nearly 50 years after actress Hattie McDaniel’s death, the Oscar-winning co-star of ``Gone With the Wind″ will come close to getting her final wish.

McDaniel, the first black to win an Academy Award, asked in her will to be buried at the Hollywood Memorial Park Cemetery, the final resting place of Mel Blanc, Rudolph Valentino and Benjamin ``Bugsy″ Siegel, among others.

``I desire a white casket and a white shroud; white gardenias in my hair and in my hands, together with a white gardenia blanket and a pillow of red roses,″ McDaniel wrote. ``I also wish to be buried in the Hollywood Cemetery.″

But when she died in 1952 of breast cancer at age 57, the Los Angeles cemetery did not take blacks. McDaniel was buried instead at Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery.

Now, the new owners of the Hollywood cemetery, which was renamed Hollywood Forever, are installing a memorial to recognize McDaniel.

On Tuesday, the 47th anniversary of her death, they will place a gray and pink granite monument next to a lake at the cemetery in view of the landmark Hollywood sign.

``There was so much that was done wrong here,″ said Tyler Cassity, who bought the cemetery in 1998. ``It was karma where we thought clearly they made a horrible decision and it is in our power to correct it.″

The cemetery changed its policy after 1959, but only three black people are buried at the park out of 80,000 graves, Cassity said.

McDaniel won the Oscar for her role as ``Mammy″ in ``Gone With the Wind,″ released in 1939.