Thelma “Butterfly” McQueen was born on 7 January 1911 in Tampa Florida (no birth time available). She is most famous for her role as squeaky voiced Prissy, (the house slave in Gone with the Wind who claimed to know everything about birthing babies but was reduced to a quivering wreck when Melanie went into a difficult labour). McQueen was born with Jupiter in Scorpio and Saturn in Aries.
She had planned to be a nurse but was encouraged to give acting a try. Her stage nickname came from a dance performance in Midsummer Night’s Dream.
During the filming of Gone with the Wind, transiting Jupiter made a series of single-shot conjunctions to her natal planets in Capricorn. Although the movie would make her famous, she did not enjoy the part because it was demeaning to African Americans. She also found herself typecast as a maid–which she came to resent. “I didn’t mind being funny,” she said “But I didn’t like being stupid.”
A few years later, as Jupiter made a series of squares to the same natal planets, Gone with the Wind was released in cinemas, garnering an unprecedented number of awards. The entire cast was catapulted to stardom. Unfortunately for the Black actors, they were subjected to the segregation laws of Atlanta. They were not permitted to enjoy the same red carpet treatment as the white cast members.
There is a slight comfort in that Hattie McDaniel won Best Supporting actress as “Mammy”. Also a young Martin Luther King sang in the youth choir that evening.
Sadly, Butterfly McQueen died in 1995 from burns sustained in a kerosene heater accident.
Podcast for “Gone With the Wind: The Zodiacal Parade” here
Full “The Search For Scarlett” article here
Copyright: Alex Trenoweth, 2014