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Imitation of Life (1934)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  26 November 1934 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 2,575 users  
Reviews: 55 user | 23 critic

Bea Pullman and her daughter Jessie have had a hard time making ends meet since Bea's husband died. Help comes in the form of Delilah Johnson, who agrees to work as Bea's housekeeper in ... See full summary »



(novel), (screenplay), 10 more credits »
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Title: Imitation of Life (1934)

Imitation of Life (1934) on IMDb 7.6/10

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »



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Complete credited cast:
Ned Sparks ...
Louise Beavers ...
Fredi Washington ...
Juanita Quigley ...
Martin, the Furniture Man
Henry Armetta ...
The Painter
Wyndham Standing ...
Jarvis, Beatrice's Butler


Bea Pullman and her daughter Jessie have had a hard time making ends meet since Bea's husband died. Help comes in the form of Delilah Johnson, who agrees to work as Bea's housekeeper in exchange for a room for herself and her daughter Peola. Bea comes up with a plan to market Delilah's pancake recipe. The two soon become wealthy and as the years go on, their friendship deepens. Their relationships with their daughters, however, become strained. Ashamed of her mother, Peola seeks a new life by passing for white. Bea's love for her daughter is tested when she and Jessie fall for the same man. Written by <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Brought Back to thrill you again! Fannie Hurst's stirring drama of a mother and a daughter in love with the same man. (re-release) See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

26 November 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Imitación de la vida  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Although cast as the daughter of Louise Beavers (Delilah), 'Fredi Washington' (Peola, age 19) was in reality less than two years younger than her onscreen mother. She was, however, considerably slimmer than the matronly Beavers, which enabled the pair to "pass" as mother and daughter. See more »


Baby Jessie Pullman, Age 3: I want my quack-quack!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Reissue prints of this film, issued after Carl Laemmle's ouster and retirement from Universal, read "The New Universal Presents [Claudette Colbert and Warren William in 'Imitation of Life']" rather than "Carl Laemmle Presents [Claudette Colbert and Warren William in 'Imitation of Life']" See more »


Featured in Ebert Presents: At the Movies: Episode #2.21 (2011) See more »


Nobody Knows de Trouble I've Seen
Traditional Negro Spiritual
Lyrics by Henry Thacker Burleigh
Played and sung by an offscreen chorus during the opening credits
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

There isn't a black person who hasn't seen this movie and cried
13 May 2005 | by (United states) – See all my reviews

This film is a part of growing up black in America. I saw it as a kid and I don't know anyone who hasn't cried. But, it is what it is, a true testament to the times. There is not much you can say. Lana turner did a great job on the remake but to me this is a bit earthier and I prefer to see the original and then see the 57 version. However, the pancake recipe bit is a bit ludicrous i mean how many secret ingredients can you put into pancakes. geesh Louise! Wonderful, keep it in your library at home and show it to your kids. I haven't seen a teenager yet that isn't fasinated and somewhat appalled by this movie. Its like listening to Billie Holidays Strange fruit. You are shocked but find yourself listening over and over again. To assure you have not missed anything.

20 of 25 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Does Peola have a white father? xomimiox
anybody else find this movie very offensive? chris-e-lee
Is the 1934 version better? vanjac12
20% of profits for a black woman in 1939.... unlikely_protagonist
I'm confused about Jesse's comment... lyndadavis_07
AM I THE ONLY ONE....? dadbowen-1
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