Popular but Panned - Fannie Hurstby Julie Oreskovich
Fannie Hurst (1889 - 1968) was an American novelist who enjoyed her heyday during the post-World War 1 era. Although almost all of her titles are out-of-print and are not well remembered today, Hurst's books were translated into dozens of languages at the time and were considered bestsellers.
What Hurst is most famous for is not the books per se, but the fact that 30 of her works were made into movies. The author commanded huge sums of money for the rights to her works and some have said that she received a million dollars from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer for Great Laughter. Other titles of hers which were box office success stories include Back Street, Imitation of Life (starring Lana Turner in the 1959 remake), and Humoresque.
Fannie Hurst led an interesting and varied life which not only included being an author, she also hosted a talk show based in New York in 1958 called Showcase. Hurst also fought for women's rights and supported the cause for women to preserve their maiden names. She was friends with Eleanor Roosevelt as well as with leading figures of the Harlem Renaissance and befriended and employed Zora Neale Hurston (who in her own right was a very successful author) as her chauffeur, secretary and confidante.
Unfortunately for Hurst, some of her books were panned by reviewers and literary types. A character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's, This Side of Paradise speaks about literature of the day and cites "Fanny" Hurst to be one of several authors "not producing among 'em one story or novel that will last 10 years." Although she was accused of careless writing and her books have moved into obscurity, Hurst made her mark and will be remembered for the film versions of her stories.
Fannie Hurst's Works
A President is Born
Five and Ten
Imitation of Life
The Hands of Veronica
The Man with One Head
God Must Be Sad
Fool, Be Still