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Imitation of Life (17-Apr-1959)

Director: Douglas Sirk

Writers: Eleanore Griffin; Allan Scott

From novel: Imitation of Life by Fannie Hurst

Music: Frank Skinner

Producer: Ross Hunter

Keywords: Romantic Drama

After a chance encounter, widowed actress Lora Meredith hires a black woman, Annie Johnson, to be her maid and help raise her daughter. Over the next ten years, the women are close friends and have daughter trouble: Lora's daughter suffering from inattention and Annie's daughter repudiating her race by passing for white. Weepy melodrama is Douglas Sirk's finest film. Both of the leads, Susan Kohner and Juanita Moore, received Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominations.

[watch trailer]

NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Robert Alda
26-Nov-1914 3-May-1986 Cloak and Dagger
Sandra Dee
23-Apr-1942 20-Feb-2005 Gidget
Troy Donahue
27-Jan-1936 2-Sep-2001 A Summer Place
John Gavin
8-Apr-1928   Julius Caesar in Spartacus
Mahalia Jackson
26-Oct-1911 27-Jan-1972 Queen of Gospel Music
Susan Kohner
11-Nov-1936   Imitation of Life
Juanita Moore
19-Oct-1922 31-Dec-2013 Imitation of Life
Dan O'Herlihy
1-May-1919 17-Feb-2005 The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe
Ann Robinson
1-May-1935   The War of the Worlds
Lana Turner
8-Feb-1920 29-Jun-1995 The Postman Always Rings Twice
John Vivyan
31-May-1915 20-Dec-1983 Mr. Lucky
Jack Weston
21-Aug-1924 3-May-1996 Wait Until Dark


Lana Turner   ...   Lora Meredith (hopeful actress)
John Gavin   ...   Steve Archer (photographer)
Sandra Dee   ...   Susie (age 16, Lora's daughter)
Susan Kohner   ...   Sarah Jane (age 18, passing for white)
Robert Alda   ...   Allen Loomis
Dan O'Herlihy   ...   David Edwards
and presenting
Juanita Moore   ...   Annie Johnson (housekeeper)
Karin Dicker   ...   Sarah Jane (age 8)
Terry Burnham   ...   Susie (age 6)
John Vivyan   ...   Young Man
Lee Goodman   ...   Photographer
Ann Robinson   ...   Show Girl
Troy Donahue   ...   Frankie
Sandra Gould   ...   Receptionist
David Tomack   ...   Burly Man
Joel Fluellen   ...   Minister
Jack Weston   ...   Tom (Stage Manager)
Billy House   ...   Fat Man
Maida Severn   ...   Teacher
Than Wyenn   ...   Romano
Peg Shirley   ...   Fay
Mahalia Jackson   ...   Choir Soloist


Review by Elisabeth (posted on 22-Feb-2005)

This movie is a true work of art. The cast is masterfully assembled and believable in their characters.

For 1959, the theme of the movie took on some very sensitive racial and inter-racial themes and presented them with sensitivity and conviction. The friendship portrayed between "Miss Lora" (Turner) and "Annie" (Moore) will not leave a dry eye among viewers. The pathos between Annie and her daughter, Sarah Jane (Kohner), will tug at every mother's heartstrings. As well, Susie's (Dee) struggle to come to terms with a famous and driven mother will ignite memories with parents of their own children's realizations that parents are very real people with human foibles.

John Gavin, who plays heart-throb Steve, is as handsome as ever!

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