A special showing of the 1959 film version of Hamilton-born Fanny Hurst’s novel “Imitation of Life” will be given by the Butler County Historical Society, 1 p.m., Saturday, May 7, in the Society’s Emma Ritchie Auditorium, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton.
Kathleen Stuckey Fox will introduce and discuss the film. Hurst became one of America’s most successful novelists, dramatists and screenwriters during the 1920s through the 1940s. Hurst was an acquaintance of several members of Kathleen Fox’s family and her mother, Kathleen Neilan Stuckey, was a personal friend.
“Imitation of Life” starred Lana Turner, John Gavin, and Juanita Moore in a story of a white woman and a black woman working and living together to make a good life for their children. The film was the second film adaptation of Hurst’s novel of the same name; the first was released in 1934 and starred Claudette Colbert, Warren William and Louise Beavers. It was shown at a screening at the historical society on March 5. The 1959 version was nominated for two 1960 academy awards and won a 1960 Golden Globe Best Supporting Actress Award for Susan Kohner.
Hurst (1889-1968) grew-up in St. Louis but during her childhood, she spent many summer months in Hamilton and called it her “summer palace.” As a young woman, she moved to New York City where she wrote for the Saturday Evening Post, Cosmopolitan and other popular magazines. Over the years, she wrote an autobiography, 18 novels, published over 300 short stories and wrote 12 screenplays, many of them based on her novels. Her success made her one of the highest-paid writers in America. She was also a social activist for the rights of women, homosexuals, and Jews.
The film, parking and popcorn are free to the public.
The next special Saturday program at the historical society will be at 1 p.m. May 14 when author Richard Piland will discuss his book “History’s Historic Public Schools, 1850 – 2010.”
The Butler County Historical Society, located at 327 North Second Street, Hamilton, and its Benninghofen House museum is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. Group tours of the Benninghofen House Museum can be arranged by calling 513-896-9930.