Imitation of Life Overview:

Imitation of Life (1934) was a Drama - Romance Film directed by John M. Stahl and produced by Carl Laemmle Jr. and Henry Henigson.


The first adaptation of Hurst's famous melodrama of two hardworking women and their daughters. Widowed Colbert strives to provide for her daughter, translating a pancake recipe into a chain of restaurants. Her success in the business world, however, drives her away from her daughter. Beavers's daughter, meanwhile, discovers she can pass for white.

(Source: available at Amazon AMC Classic Movie Companion).


Imitation of Life was inducted into the National Film Registry in 2005.

Academy Awards 1934 --- Ceremony Number 7 (source: AMPAS)

Best PictureUniversalNominated

BlogHub Articles:

Imitation of Life (1934): Stahl Vs. Sirk

By 4 Star Film Fan on May 11, 2021 From 4 Star Films

The opening shot of Imitation of Life is memorable for its sheer novelty and the very simplicity of the space. It’s not an establishing shot of a place or a person. Instead, it’s of a rubber duck bobbing in the bathwater as a little girl whines about wanting her “Quack Quack”... Read full article


By Terry on Nov 6, 2018 From Stardust and Shadows

Film making of this style requires that something new be added to a story, not just in terms of CGI, but material not previously used from a source. Better yet, bring a story forward to today?s audience without sacrificing its integrity. The 1934 version of IMITATION OF LIFE with Claudette Colbert a... Read full article

Imitation of Life (1959)

By 4 Star Film Fan on Aug 22, 2018 From 4 Star Films

When I was watching the film I distinctly remember one instance I threw my head back in the air and just smiled to myself. How I love Douglas Sirk. He gives us something seemingly so superficial?and decadent that plays so perfectly into those expectations and simultaneously?steamrolls them with a no... Read full article

Imitation of Life (1959)

By Beatrice on Nov 24, 2016 From Flickers in Time

Imitation of Life Directed by Douglas Sirk Written by Eleanore Griffin and Allan Scott from a novel by Fannie Hurst 1959/USA Universal International Pictures First viewing/Netflix rental For 50’s Technicolor eye-candy and glamor, this can’t be beat. ?For substance, I’ll take the... Read full article

Than Wyenn, Character Actor Known For ‘Twilight Zone,’ ‘Imitation of Life,’ Dies at 95

By Rhonda0731 on Feb 1, 2015 From Smitten Kitten Vintage

Originally posted on Variety: Than Wyenn, a character actor whose long list of film and TV credits ranged from ?Imitation of Life? and ?Being There? to ?Twilight Zone? and ?Quincy, M.D.,? has died. He was 95. Wyenn died Jan. 30 at the Motion Picture and Television Fund home in Woodland Hills, Calif.... Read full article

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Quotes from

Delilah Johnson: What's my baby want?
Peola Johnson, Age 19: I want to be white, like I look.
Delilah Johnson: Peola!
Peola Johnson, Age 19: [gesturing to mirror] Look at me. Am I not white? Isn't that a white girl?

Delilah Johnson: [to Peola] Bow your head! You got to learn to take it!

Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman: Don't you want your own house?
Delilah Johnson: No. How am I to take care of you and Miss Jessie if I aint here?

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Facts about

Fredi Washington (Peola, Aged 19) was a light-skinned African-American. After playing this role, she was criticized by some in the black community who labored under the misconception that the actress herself practiced self-hatred and would rather 'pass' herself off as white. Ms. Washington was, in fact, an avid civil rights activist.
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.
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Best Picture Oscar 1934

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National Film Registry

Imitation of Life

Released 1934
Inducted 2005

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Also directed by John M. Stahl

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Also produced by Carl Laemmle Jr.

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Also released in 1934

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