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50th Anniversary: IMITATION OF LIFE Screening with Paul Weitz, Juanita Moore, and Susan Kohner

Susan Kohner Juanita Moore todayJuanita Moore and Susan Kohner photos: ‘Imitation of Life’ 50th anniversary screening

The 50th anniversary screening of Douglas Sirk’s 1959 weepie blockbuster Imitation of Life, starring Lana Turner, Sandra Dee, John Gavin, Troy Donahue, Dan O’Herlihy, Robert Alda, Mahalia Jackson, and Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominees Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner, was presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Friday, August 21, 2009, at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. The event was hosted by film critic Stephen Farber. (Photo: Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner at the Academy’s screening of Imitation of Life 1959. Scroll down to check out more photos from the event.)

Susan Kohner’s film family

In Imitation of Life, white Susan Kohner plays black Juanita Moore’s daughter (hey, that’s Hollywood). In real life, however, Kohner doesn’t have a black mom. Her mother is Lupita Tovar, 98, known as "Mexico’s Sweetheart" back in the early 1930s and the star of the Spanish-language version of Dracula. Her father was producer Paul Kohner, among whose credits was the Margaret Sullavan movie Next Time We Love and German actor-director Luis Trenker’s Depression Era drama The Prodigal Son. Paul Kohner was also a powerful Hollywood agent, among whose clients was Lana Turner.

Susan Kohner, who retired from films after marrying fashion designer John Weitz in 1964, also happens to be the mother of screenwriter-directors Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz; the latter was also present at the Academy’s Imitation of Life presentation. Among the Weitz brothers’ film credits are American Pie, About a Boy, In Good Company (Paul Weitz only), and The Twilight Saga: New Moon and The Golden Compass (Chris Weitz only).

Juanita Moore continued making sporadic film appearances until 2000, when she was featured in a small role in the Disney movie The Kid, starring Bruce Willis.

‘Imitation of Life’ 1934

Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers were featured in the 1934 version of Imitation of Life, based on Fannie Hurst’s novel. Directed by John M. Stahl, the Best Picture Academy Award-nominated film also featured Fredi Washington (an actual part-black actress) as Beavers’ daughter, in addition to Warren William and Rochelle Hudson.

Juanita Moore Stephen FaberJuanita Moore and film critic Stephen Farber at ‘Imitation of Life’ 1959 Academy screening

Susan Kohner Paul WeitzSusan Kohner and her son, Paul Weitz

Paul Weitz Susan KohnerPaul Weitz and Susan Kohner

Paul Weitz Susan Kohner Stephen FaberSusan Kohner, Paul Weitz, and Stephen Farber

Stephen Farber, Paul Weitz, Juanita Moore, and Susan Kohner Imitation of Life 1959 screening photos: Matt Petit / © Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

Continue Reading: Behind the Motion Picture Canvas: MANHATTAN, THE BLACK STALLION Screenings

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23 Comments to Juanita Moore, Susan Kohner, Paul Weitz Photos

  1. VERONICA RIVERO

    TUVE LA OPORTUNIDAD DE VER HACE DOS MESES LA PELICULA ME ENCANTO ME HIZO LLORAR TANTO Q NO QUERIA MOVERME DE MI ASIENTO ESPECTACULAR LUEGO DE ESO QUISE AVERIGUAR SI NO SE GANARON OSCARS PORQUE LAS ACTUACIONES ESTUVIERON ESPECTACULARES, PAZ EN LA TUMBA DE JUANITA EXCELENTE ACTRIZ

  2. Fran woodard

    May you rest in peace Mrs. Moore . I saw the movie at age 10 in 1959, everyone was talking about what a great movie it was and how they cried. Well,when Ms. Mahalia Jackson sang “Soon I will be finished with the troubles of this world” I lost control and wept. My prayers to the family.

  3. t.w.6 sugas

    At age 5 my whole family sat and watched i.o.l. 1967. At that young age i could’nt take my eyes off the t.v. screen. Over the years, each time it is on, i am there. My cousin bought me the dvd a few years ago now(wow wow wow wow)the most precious gift(other than my life) i have ever recieved. Juanita Moore is the spitting image of my aunt, who was just as elegant, warm, caring, she was juanita on the screen. The film touched me so deeply.I have recently made the same floral blanket for my aunts casket 16th dec 13. Mahalia jackson juanita Hutchinson- Brown, is the name we’ve chosen for my new grandaughter, (which both daughte & partner , after wathing the film, are happy with). Mahalia jacksons performance is just her, PERFECTION. The letter to the milkman.WOW. I could go on forever. Juanita Moore Rest in Divine Eternal Peace.

  4. Mary margaret

    What a beautiful film, I remember my dad taking me to this film as a young child and how sad I felt not realizing that there was such a thing as not being liked because of the colour of your skin, I am now 57 and still do not understand this behaviour, I still pray for equality of all kind in our world.: :-)

  5. A Fan

    R.I.H. Ms. Juanita Moore, one of the best actresses of her time.

  6. V.E.G.

    Boy, I watched the Imitation of Life, I wept (no joke)!
    Once you see it, you will never forget it, no matter how hard you try.

  7. DEBBIE GRAUF

    my family is of a wide mixed race,
    the Imitation of life was heart wrenching…one of our family’s favorite movie .
    we are so thankful to Juanita moore, lana turner, to all the actors,to the crew…
    to everyone who supported this movie and others like it .
    we hope they will perhaps see this message and know we are fans of their acting !
    Debe & Linda .

  8. Jane Doe

    You talked about Susan and didn’t talk about Juanita?

  9. Jane Doe

    Truly one of the greatest films that was ever made in movie history. I am now 53 having watched it many times. When a film can make you cry each time you watch it, that kind of power defines classic.

  10. Lori Beth Hirsberg

    I have watched this movie over 30 times! I am 47 yrs old and started watching it at around the age of 10. It is my ALL TIME favorite movie. I tell everyone about it. Whenever it is on, my dad calls me to tell me to record it and then I call everyone I know to tell them that they HAVE to watch it. It is truly a classic and I will forever love it and link it to my childhood. Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner were my two favorite actresses in the film. They were so real to me- the acting so genuine. The funeral scene always ripped me apart, it still does. There is no way possible to watch that and not be overcome with tears.

  11. Craig

    Dear Deborah, In the article while mentioning that Susan (white) played the daughter of a black mother, you then said “hey, its Hollywood”. I know two unrelated people who could pass for white while both of their sets of parents are black. Perhaps you’ve never met anyone like that but I just thought you should know that’s not a Hollywood thing, it’s a biological thing.

    Thanks for the article.

  12. Gary Holt

    Juanita and Susan, thank you both for realistically portraying those characters in the “Imitation of Life”. As a sixteen year old I watched this movie late one Sat. night in 1969. That night God used this movie to speak to my heart. My parents had recently divorced and my father did things while intoxicated that embarrassed me in front of my friends. I wanted to run away where no one knew my father. I didn’t like the way I felt and when Juanita talked about how God loved her daughter and she would be alright, I believed that for myself. As far as I can remember, that night I prayed for the first time; “God, if you are real like this lady believes you are, I want you to take over my life.” I slept so peacefully that night. The next day I walked to a church that i had visited with a friend. I went forward, filled out a little card and answered a few questions. Two weeks later I was dunked under water (baptized). I didn’t understand much about God or Jesus but there was a major change in my life. I started loving my father and in general my life took a turn. Thank you again for being a conduit for God’s love to redeem this young man now sixty.

  13. S rush

    She (Susan Kohner) should have the the Oscar . One of the best film of all time.

  14. JustTheFacts

    Am watching I/o/L right now on TCM….Wow. Can’t stop the tears!
    It’s always been a great classice. Never tire of seeing this movie.

    6/12/13

  15. carlos

    imitacion a la vida una pelicula que necesitan los jovenes de hoy tienes unos valores de ayuda al otro como nunca mas alla de los problemas que todos podemos tener lana turner y juanita moore unica amo a juanita moore

  16. Shelbra Traywick

    I WATCHED THIS MOVIE AS A LITTLE GIRL AND I CRIED. NOW IM WATCHING IT AS A ADULT. AND IM STILL CRYING
    I DON’T THINK I WILL EVER RUN OUT OF YEARS WHEN IT COMES TO THIS MOVIE.
    THERE. IS SO MUCH. TRUTH IN THIS STORY TILL IT’S. BREATH TAKING. THE CAST WAS ALL GREAT. LANA TURNER WAS JUST FABULOUS. AFTER WATCHING THIS MOVIE IT BE DAYS OF REALITY SEARCHING. THANK YOU GOD FOR ALL OF THE CAST IN THIS MOVIE. AND LANA TURNER IS THE FAR GREATEST. ACTRESS THAT EVER LIVED. JUANITA MOORE WAS SO GOOD….SUSAN KOHNER WAS GREAT AND SANDRA DEE..DONT FORGET LITTLE SUSIE AMD LITTLE SARAH JANE THEY WERE GREAT ALSO.
    THIS IS A CLASSIC MOVIE OF A. LIFETIME.
    I HAVE MY OWN PERSONAL COPY ..THE BEST MOVIE YET

  17. Billie Jean webster

    Imitation of Life is my favorite movie of all times. I always cry when I watch the movie. One day it came on and I said I wasn’t going to cry and I didn’t, but later it came on and “guess what” I cried. The movie has a good story-line. Lana Turner is breath taking, very beautiful. Her blonde hair, blue eyes and she is wearing that long white gown with that blue scarf drape around her chest, just beautiful. John Cavin is tall dark and handsome.

  18. Geraldine Peters

    I’am glad to that both Ms.Moore and Ms.Kohner are still around and you both look great! I just saw the movie last night and I was telling my granddaughter about it. And that everytime I saw it I cried. I told her I’am older now and wouldn’t cry. But of course I cried a little. The part when Sarah Jean came to the funeral and cried on the coffin. This movie was so emotional at the end you couldn’t just stay dried eyed. You both were excellent actors. I was only 5 when the movie was made. Thank You so much Channel One for choosing Imitation Of Life. God Bless You All,G.Peters,Las Vegas,Nv.

  19. One of my favorite movies. I watch it everytime it’s on!

    Both ladies look wonderful!

  20. darren amos

    one of the best films ever made

  21. Maria Nilsson

    Good to see Juanita Moore who was so great in “Imitation of Life.”
    It’s really sad that Lana and Sandra couldn’t be there as well.

  22. Linette

    Great photos!
    Imitation of Life is one my favorite movies.
    Susan Kohner and Ms. Juanita Moore were simply marvelous in it.
    Lana Turner was the most glamorous movie star EVER!!!!

  23. Dan Erdman

    Wow, I had no idea that Kohner and Moore - let alone Lupita Tovar! - were still around. Good stuff.







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