LANA TURNER, Hollywood's "sweater girl" of the 1930s and 1940s, found her career in deep decline by the mid-1950s. That was to change overnight with the March, 1958 release of the "shocking" film PEYTON PLACE, based on the humongous best-seller by Grace Metalious. The scandalous novel and movie nearly brought the fifties to a grinding halt because of their adult subject matter. Watching the film today by today's "standards," one would wonder what the fuss was all about. But times were different then.
But PEYTON PLACE was only the beginning of Lana's run as the movies' "Queen of the Sudsers."
Other films in the genre were PORTRAIT IN BLACK, BY LOVE POSSESSED, LOVE HAS MANY FACES and MADAME X. But besides PEYTON PLACE, the biggest was the 1959 release of IMITATION OF LIFE, a remake of Fannie Hurst's novel, first filmed in 1934 and starred Claudette Colbert.
The story's "hot button" dealt with a struggling white actress with a six-year old daughter who set up housekeeping with a homeless black widow and her light-skinned eight-year-old daughter who rejected her mother by trying to pass for white.
IMITATION OF LIFE was a huge box office hit for Universal International. Besides Miss Turner, the film co-starred an up-and-coming young "property" named Sandra Dee.
IMITATION OF LIFE played local theatres twelve times:
April 19 - May 2, 1959 - CENTER THEATRE
August 21 - 25, 1959 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
May 5 - 7, 1960 - JOE'S DRIVE-IN THEATRE
September 30 - October 1, 1960 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
April 15, 1961 - 601 DRIVE-IN THEATRE
March 16 - 17, 1962 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
May 25 - 26, 1962 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
August 19 - 20, 1962 - 601 DRIVE-IN THEATRE
November 28 - 30, 1962 - 601 DRIVE-IN THEATRE
October 18 - 19, 1963 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE
February 27 - 28, 1970 - 601 DRIVE-IN THEATRE
November 29 - December 1, 1970 - SALISBURY DRIVE-IN THEATRE