Susan Kohner is an American former actress who worked in film and television. She is best known for playing the role of Sarah Jane in the movie ‘Imitation of Life’, a role for which she was awarded the Golden Globe, and also earned her a nomination for the Oscars. Throughout her career, she has appeared in several other films as well, such as ‘By Love Possessed’, and ‘Freud: The Secret Passion’. She has also appeared in several TV shows in guest roles. Some of them include ‘Four Star Playhouse’, ‘Matinee Theatre’, ‘Suspicion’ and ‘Wagon Train’. After her marriage to John Weitz, she decided to retire from acting so that she could devote time to her family. Both her sons Paul Weitz and Chris Weitz became filmmakers, as well as occasional actors.
Susan Kohner was first seen in the 1955 war film ‘To Hell and Back’, which was directed by Jesse Hibbs. It was based on a book of the same name by Audie Murphy. In 1956, she played the role of Jolie Normand, one of the main characters in the Western film ‘The Last Wagon’. It was directed by Delmer Daves. The story revolves around the survivors of an Indian massacre who need to rely on an accused murderer, in order to lead them out of danger. Her next work was the 1957 Western film ‘Trooper Hook’, which was directed by Charles Marquis Warren. The film is about a soldier who frees a woman from the Indians. During the captivity however, she has a son from one of the chiefs, which worsens her situation. The same year, she appeared in another film ‘Dino’.
In 1959, she appeared in the drama film ‘Imitation of Life’, which was directed by Douglas Sirk. The film dealt with several issues like race, class and gender. The film did quite well commercially, earning over $ 6 million on a budget of $ 1.2 million. The film won the Laurel Award for ‘Top Drama’. Kohner won two Golden Globe Awards for ‘Best Supporting Actress’, and ‘Best Promising Newcomer’, for her outstanding performance as Sarah Jane, and was also nominated for an Oscar in the ‘Best Supporting Actress’ category.
The same year, she was next seen in the historical drama film ‘The Big Fisherman’, which was directed by Frank Borzage. The film was a failure commercially. However, it was nominated for three Oscars. She next appeared in the biopic ‘The Gene Krupa Story’, which was directed by Don Weis.
In 1960, she played a main role in the film ‘All the Fine Young Cannibals’. It was directed by Michael Anderson. The last two films of her career were ‘By Love Possessed’ and ‘Freud: The Secret Passion’. For her performance in the latter, Kohner was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.
Susan Kohner has also appeared in many TV shows, in guest roles. Some of them include ‘Matinee Theatre’, ‘Wagon Train’, ‘Suspicion’, ‘Alfred Hitchcock Presents’, ‘Hong Kong’, ‘Route 66’ and ‘Checkmate’.
You May Like
Continue Reading Below
Family & Personal Life
Susanna Kohner was born on 11 November 1936, in Los Angeles, California,. Her father was Paul Kohner, a film producer, and her mother was Lupita Tovar, a Mexican actress. Her mother was of Irish and Mexican descent, and her father was Jewish.
She married John Weitz in 1964. He was a German novelist and fashion designer. After her marriage, she decided to retire in order to have more time for her family. She had two children with John, Paul and Chris. Both of them became filmmakers as well as occasional actors.