- Mini Bio
- Name: Butterfly McQueen
- Born: 7th January 1911, Tampa, Florida, U.S.
- Died: 22nd December 1995, Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
- Resting place: She donated her body to medical science
- Alma mater: City College of New York
- Occupation: Dancer and actress
- Famous for: Playing Scarlett O' Hara's maid in the 1939 blockbuster Gone With The Wind
- Trivia: She was a life long member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and she made no secret of her atheist leanings
"As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion"Butterfly McQueen
"I didn't mind playing a maid the first time, because I thought that was how you got into the business. But after I did the same thing over and over, I resented it. I didn't mind being funny, but I didn't like being stupid"Butterfly McQueen
"I'm an atheist, and Christianity appears to me to be the most absurd imposture of all the religions, and I'm puzzled that so many people can't see through a religion that encourages irresponsibility and bigotry"Butterfly McQueen
"I told them, if you really slap me, I won't scream, but if you pretend to slap me, I'll make the best scream you ever heard" [about the scene when Scarlett had to slap Prissy across the face]Butterfly McQueen
"I don't mind playing maid parts occasionally, but I feel that I would be disgracing my race by always accepting parts as a menial to be not only laughed at but looked down upon"Butterfly McQueen
"I don't think you should strip people of their prejudice - that's all they have, some of them. We should just leave them alone until they mature"Butterfly McQueen
"I hated that role. I thought the movie was going to show the progress black people had made, but Prissy was lazy and stupid and backward"Butterfly McQueen
"I had imagined that since I am an intelligent woman, I could play any kind of role"Butterfly McQueen
"The part of Prissy was so backward. I was always whining and complaining"Butterfly McQueen
"Oh, Miss Scarlett! I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' babies"Butterfly McQueen
"Now I am happy I did Gone with the Wind. I wasn't when I was 28, but it's part of black history"Butterfly McQueen
"You have no idea how hard it is for black actors, but things change, things blossom in time"Butterfly McQueen
"They say the streets are going to be beautiful in Heaven. Well, I'm trying to make the streets beautiful here"Butterfly McQueen
"I would probably do the same thing again, if I had it to do all over"Butterfly McQueen
"Show business is only my hobby. My main job is community work"Butterfly McQueen
"We were born to improve ourselves as human beings"Butterfly McQueen
"I think America is heaven. And some people are hell"Butterfly McQueen
"I’d rather play a maid than be one"Butterfly McQueen
Great quotes are not where you find great wisdom. It's where you share this knowledge that counts
Sharing Is Caring
Butterfly McQueen Biography
Butterfly McQueen was originally a dancer that later progressed to acting roles on the silver screen and eventually to television. She was a member of the world renowned Katherine Dunham dance troupe and she remained good friends with Katherine for her entire life.
She was born Thelma McQueen but she did not like the name so she had it legally changed to Butterfly, Butterfly was a nickname she earned because of the rapid hand movements she used during dance routines.
Her most famous role was that of Prissy in Gone With The Wind where her high pitched voice stood out as she played a maid to Scarlett O' Hara. In this epic movie she shared the screen with Hollywood legends such as Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh and Olivia de Havilland and although she accrued critical acclaim, it did not lead to the glittering subsequent roles her acting prowess deserved as they never materialised in an era shamed by the skin colour being a major factor in securing box office dollars.
Butterfly McQueen appeared in another 1939 hit movie called The Women where she played the role of Lulu, a perfume counter maid. This was an unusual movie because the entire cast was female and although it did not receive any academy nominations it is still highly regarded as one of the best movies in a year that was one of the golden era of Hollywoods best ever.
McQueen never married or had children and she died alone in tragic circumstances in a fire at her home in Augusta in 1995 aged 84. Butterfly McQueen was a modest actress and kept her private life to herself as no one in her community realised about her acting past, despite this she did come out with some memorable one liners and I have compiled this list of 18 of the best Butterfly McQueen quotes.
Quotes About Butterfly McQueen
The critic Wesley Morris wrote of her GWTW role of Prissy:
"Butterfly McQueen is giving the same high-strung performance as Vivien Leigh. To see McQueen falling down and squawking is to think there really isn’t a huge difference between her dithering emotionalism and Scarlett’s, except that Prissy is written as a fool and Scarlett as a superhero"
The film historian Donald Bogle shared this observation:
"Her comedic gifts were too special and delicate, too unique a blending of the comic and the pathetic, to be effective. With her large, expressive eyes, her bewildered and perplexed stare, and her quivering tremor of a voice, she seemed almost otherworldly"
The author Michele Wallace was quoted as saying:
"McQueen never got the work nor the credit she deserved"