Lori Henriksen

author of The Winter Loon


Zippity Do Dah



When I chose Zippity Do Dah for my Z post, I thought it was just a song to sing when you are happy. But in reading about the origins and lyrics of the song, I learned it is surrounded by controversy. So much for singing Zippity Do Dah and doing the dance of joy because we have all reached the end of the A to Z Challenge. Some facts I didn’t know:

~ The song is from a Disney movie called Song of the South about Br’er Rabbit and Uncle Remus.

~ The movie was released in 1946 and criticized by the NAACP: “the production helps to perpetuate a dangerously glorified picture of slavery . . . [the film] unfortunately gives the impression of an idyllic master-slave relationship which is a distortion of the facts.”

~ The stars of the movie and others disagreed. Actress Hattie McDaniel who played the character Tempy in Song of the South and sang Sooner or Later said: “If I had for one moment considered any part of the picture degrading or harmful to my people I would not have appeared therein.”

~Hattie McDaniel is better remembered as the first black actress to win an Oscar in 1939 for her role of Mammy in Gone With the Wind. Her roles portraying hard-working black women were often criticized as stereotypes, and she was criticized for not being politically active. She is loosely quoted as saying, “I can play a maid in the movies for $700 a week or work as a maid downtown for $7 a week.”

~ Hattie McDaniel lost her battle with breast cancer in Los Angeles, California, on October 26, 1952. Since her death, McDaniel has been posthumously awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Additionally, in 1975, she was inducted into the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame. A well-received biography on her life was published in 2005—Hattie McDaniel: Black Ambition, White Hollywood, by Jill Watts.

~ You can watch her Oscar acceptance speech and read 5 more facts about her here:




~ James Baskett who sang Zippity Do Dah in the film, Song of the South, agreed with Hattie McDaniel, saying, “I believe that certain groups are doing my race more harm in seeking to create dissension than can ever possibly come out of the Song of the South.”

I end with James Baskett  in a You Tube video singing  Zippity Do Dah:



Have a beautiful day and thanks for stopping by the A to Z Challenge. You can see other bloggers participating in the Challenge:







 Movies were not just cheap entertainment. Movies influenced women’s place in society and perceptions of themselves and others.

Movies of the 1930s can be divided into the before and after of the Production Code of 1934. Until the Production Code went into effect between 1933 and 1934, Censorship was lax with few strict regulations on sex, vice, violence and morals.

Looking back to movies produced before the Code, feminist movie critic, Molly Haskell observes, “Women were conceived of as having sexual desire without being freaks or villains . . . Women were entitled to initiate sexual encounters, to pursue men, even to embody certain ‘male’ characteristics without being stigmatized as ‘unfeminine’ or predatory.”

Marlene Dietrich in Morocco, Blonde Venus and She Done Him Wrong. Miriam Hopkins in Design for Living, Greta Garbo in Susan Lenox, Her Rise and Fall, and Queen Christina portray some of the pre-code, liberated heroines. Mae West played characters in She Done Him Wrong and I’m No Angel who openly exploited men for her own pleasure.

The Production Code of 1934 changed the landscape of movies. No more passionate embraces or Mae West steamy sexuality. No exposure of sex organs (the chimp in Tarzan wore a body stocking). No revealing clothing. Twin beds even for married couples. Crime punished. Traditional roles and marriage sacred.

After the Production Code, there were films of young working women making it on their own terns who seemed to gladly give in when the right man came along. Ginger Rogers starred in Gold Diggers. She also starred with Katharine Hepburn, Andrea Leeds and Lucille Ball in Stage Door where men make only token appearances.

And movies with comic relief were popular. Claudette Colbert in It Happened One Night. Katharine Hepburn in Bringing up Baby and Holiday. Rosalind Russell in His Girl Friday. Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth. In these and other comedies, women were somewhat wacky, but with brains of their own.

There were many strong women played by Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis and other talented actresses throughout the 1930s. The moral code clamped down and attempted to conceal what simmered under the surface, but could not stop Hollywood from expressing human nature. The Code was in effect for thirty years.


Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Claudette Colbert, Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, Marlene Dietrich, Mae West and Ginger Rogers.

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