The older brother of actresses Etta and Hattie McDaniel, Sam McDaniel began his stage career as a clog dancer with a Denver minstrel show. Later on, he co-starred with his brother Otis in another minstrel troupe, this one managed by his father Henry. Sam and his sister Etta moved to Hollywood during the talkie revolution, securing the sort of bit roles usually reserved for black actors at that time. He earned his professional nickname "Deacon" when he appeared as the "Doleful Deacon" on The Optimistic Do-Nut Hour, a Los Angeles radio program. During this period, Sam encouraged his sister Hattie to come westward and give Hollywood a try; he even arranged Hattie's first radio and nightclub singing jobs. McDaniel continued playing minor movie roles doormen, porters, butlers, janitors while Hattie ascended to stardom, and an Academy Award, as "Mammy" in Gone with the Wind (1939). During the 1950s, McDaniel played a recurring role on TV's Amos 'N' Andy Show.