Fascinating facts about Hamiltonian whose books were made into 5 movies


An Ohio Historical Marker in honor of Fannie Hurst will be dedicated April 15 in Hamilton.

Kathleen Fox has a lot of pride in the accomplishments of fellow Hamiltonians throughout history, and she has worked to hard to make sure that those who have made major contributions to society get honored appropriately.

Her latest effort surrounds getting an Ohio Historical Marker placed in Armstead Park to honor Fannie Hurst, a World War I and World War II era writer and activist that spoke on behalf of social justice organizations and causes supporting feminism and civil rights.

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The Ohio Historical Marker to honor famed Hamiltonian Fannie Hurst.

The Ohio Historical Marker to honor famed Hamiltonian Fannie Hurst.

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The Ohio Historical Marker to honor famed Hamiltonian Fannie Hurst.

The Ohio Historical Marker dedication ceremony honoring Hurst will be at 2 p.m. April 15 at Armstead Park on the corner of Main and D streets.

Here are 7 things to know about Hurst:

1. Famous friends

“She was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt’s and Amelia Earhart, among so many others, and FDR’s,” Fox said.

Fox and her friend Diana Royer penned a book about Hurst’s accomplishments, “Fannie Hurst, In Her Own Words, 1952-1968: Love Notes to Her Deceased Husband, Jacques S. Danielson,” detailing the life and times of the famous Hamiltonian.

2.Her books were made into movies

A prolific writer, Hurst’s most famous novels, “Back Street” and “Imitation of Life,” were made into a total of five motion pictures. “Imitation of Life” received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture in 1934.

“Throughout her lifetime, Fannie’s books were translated into over a dozen languages. Her short stories became syndicated throughout American newspapers and magazines, which further led to her popularity,” Fox said.

3. Hamilton was her ‘summer palace’

Hurst, daughter of Jewish immigrants from Bavaria, Samuel Hurst and Rose Koppel Hurst, was born on October 19, 1885, in Hamilton.

Fox said that as soon as Hurst was born in Hamilton, she moved to St. Louis where she spent her entire childhood.

When Hurst was growing up, she would spend part of her summers in Hamilton with her maternal grandparents according to Fox.

“She called Hamilton her ‘Summer Palace,’ ” Fox said.

Fannie would actually never live in Hamilton for any period of time, but she always considered Hamilton her birth place. When ahe visited during the summers with her mother, her Aunt Betty would take her to the market around the Butler County Court House Square on High Street, according to Fox.

4. An ‘only child’ with a love for reading

Hurst’s younger sister, Edna, died of diphtheria in 1891.

“So basically Fannie grew up an only child,” Fox said.

Her parents observed their Jewish religion very little, so when Fannie asked about her heritage, they sent her to the library, according to Fox. That is where she developed her love for reading and writing.

“Fannie’s penchant for reading led her to knock on her neighbors’ doors so she could ask permission to rummage through their home libraries,” Fox said.

5. A unique view on marriage

Hurst’s marriage to Jacques S. Danielson, a Russian pianist living in New York, made for great writing fodder. Their marriage was kept secret for five years, and she maintained her maiden name, which was highly unusual in those days, according to Fox.

She added that the couple had no children, kept separate residences, conveniently often in the same building, and would renew their marriage vows every five years if both agreed.

Fox explained that Hurst considered marriage to be “sordid endurance tests, overgrown with the fungi of familiarity and contempt, and that by living separately from her husband, she was able to keep her most sacred relationship a high-sheen damask rather than a ‘breakfast cloth, stale with soft-boiled egg stains.”

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