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Susan Kohner
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Actress
    (November 11, 1936- )
    Born in Los Angeles
    Birth name was Guadalupe Susanna Kohner
    Daughter of actress Lupita Tovar and producer Paul Kohner
    Acted in 'To Hell and Back,' 'The Gene Krupa Story,' 'The Last Wagon,' 'The Big Fishermen,' 'By Love Possessed,' 'Freud: The Secret Passion,' and 'All the Fine Young Cannibals'
    Acted in stage productions of 'Love Me Little' (1958) 'Pullman Car' (1962) and 'Saint Joan' (1963)
    Best known for her Oscar-nominated role as the mixed-race Sarah Jane in the remake of 'Imitation of Life' (1959)
    Married menswear designer and writer John Weitz in 1964, retiring from acting to devote time to her family
    Mother of Hollywood film directors/producers/screenwriters, Chris Weitz and Paul Weitz
    She had a governess, as a child.
    She broke off her engagement to George Hamilton.
    She auditioned for the part of Maria in 'West Side Story.'
    Her career was probably predicated on nepotism (she met resistance from her father who wanted her to finish school, but he served as her agent anyway).
    Although by no means ugly, she lacked her mother's ravishing beauty, bearing somewhat 'flat' facial features that didn't always jive well with the camera lens.
    She initially didn't get along with two-time co-star, Sal Mineo, joking to fan magazines 'he's so interested in himself, sometimes he doesn't even know I'm talking to him!'
    Critics tend to prefer Fredi Washington's original 'mixed-race daughter' in 1934 'Imitation' film, over hers (although they tend to prefer Juanita Moore to Louise Beavers).
    This might have to do with the reality that, unlike Kohner, Washington really was half-black and came off as genuinely 'torn about passing' for a white person.
    By contrast, Kohner's version tends to strike people as bratty, spiteful, and vindictive - bordering on maniacal.
    She acted in the namesake for the band, Fine Young Cannibals (ironically alongside Louise Beavers).
    Many interpreted her beating out Juanita Moore for many of the year's awards as an 'easy out,' enabling Hollywood and New York to acknowledge 'Imitation' without necessarily honoring a black woman, herself.
    She played opposite Tyrone Power on the stage.
    At some angles, she resembled Natalie Wood (whose sister she incidentally played in 'Fine Young Cannibals').
    She remained close friends with her on-screen mother, Juanita Moore, until her death in 2014 (they made public appearances together in 2005 and 2010).
    Troy Donahue apparently clocked her so hard during the film's infamous 'beating' scene that she ended up in the hospital for close to a week.
    She won two Golden Globes in the same year, one for Best Supporting Actress and the second for Best New Actress (1959).
    Although not half-black, she was the child of a Czech-Jewish father and a Mexican-Roman Catholic mother.
    Her final scene in 'Imitation,' crying over the casket of her mother, is arguable as moving as, if not more than, Washington's.
    She explained to an interviewer years later that she drew the emotion from the thought of losing her own mother (little did she know that Mrs. Tovar was in the crowd during filming, weeping just as profusely).
    She shared Sal Mineo's first onscreen kiss, in 'Dino.'
    At four and a half minutes, it was reportedly the longest 'teenage screen kiss' up to that point; it took nine takes and over twenty technicians to complete, leading Mineo to remark 'its just like being at home, everyone's watching!'
    She and Sal Mineo evidently grew on each other, because he campaigned extensively to be cast in his next film, 'The Gene Krupa Story.' She later complimented him, saying 'I like that he looks in the eyes of the person he's talking to. I can't stand fellows who seem to avoid a girl's eyes all the time!'
    She took a serious risk, as an actress, in taking the topical role of the white daughter of a black mother during a time when there was still a major racial divide in America.

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


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