A struggling young actress with a six year-old daughter sets up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight year-old daughter who rejects her mother by trying to pass for white.
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Aspiring actress Lora Meredith meets Annie Johnson, a homeless black woman at Coney Island and soon they share a tiny apartment. Each woman has an intolerable daughter, though, Annie's little girl Sarah Jane, is by far the worse. Neurotic and obnoxious, Sarah Jane doesn't like being black; since she's light-skinned (her father was practically white), she spends the rest of the film passing as white, much to her mother's heartache and shame. Lora, meanwhile, virtually ignores her own daughter in a single-minded quest for stardom. Written by
"If we should ever pass on the street, please don't recognize me."
Lora Meredith, an attractive widow with theatrical aspirations, has lost her 6-year-old daughter, Susie, in the crowded beaches of Coney Island... She finally finds her in the care of Annie Johnson, a black woman, and her very light-skinned daughter, Sarah Jane, who had been playing with Susie Before long Annie goes to work as a maid for Lora and the two women become fast friends
Encouraged by an agent (Robert Alda), Lora gets a good role in a play by David Edwards In the years that follow, she becomes a successful Broadway actress and appears in one Edwards enormous hit But fame means work and work means neglecting Susie, now sixteen, who must bear the loneliness of a teenager whose mother is too busy being a star
A handsome photographer, Steve Archer (John Gavin), is the resolute, admiring love of Lora's life but he too must wait and suffer for her affection Meanwhile, Annie has big problems with her daughter Sarah Jane rejects her race, and refuses to accept she is black She disclaims her mother to camouflage her ancestry and eventually takes a decision with extremely drastic effect
"Imitation of Life" was an ideal tearjerker/soap opera for the major talents of Juanita Moore and Susan Kohner... Moore shined as the self-sacrificing mother so loving, honest and sincere Cleverly enough, Kohner projected unafraid sensuality Both stars won Academy Award nominations as Best Supporting Actress
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