Thursday, March 3, 2011

Passing, Hollywood-Style!

What follows are two scenes from the film adaptations of novelist Fannie Hurst's Imitation of Life (clip misspells "imitation"). The first version, made in 1934, stars African American performers Louise Beavers (Delilah) and the luminous Fredi Washington (Peola) as the mother and daughter, respectively. The second adaptation, filmed in 1959, features Juanita Moore (Delilah) as the long-suffering mother, and Susan Kohner (Sarah Jane) as her daughter. Interestingly, Susan Kohner is a white actress passing as a black woman passing as a white woman in this version.

Imitation of Life, 1934. Delilah (Louise Beavers) and Peola (Fredi Washington).

 Imitation of Life, 1959. Annie (Juanita Moore) and Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner).

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