Juanita Moore may not have gained the fame that other actresses of her time did, but she was an actress that appeared in several films, and even earned an Oscar nomination.
She was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in Imitation of Life.
She died in her home in Los Angeles on Wednesday. The news was reported by actor Kirk Kellykahn, saying that she collapsed and died at the age of 99, although accounts of her age have varied over the years.
Kirk Kellykahn is Moore’s grandson, and she is survived by him in addition to her two nephews. She was the widow of Charles Buris.
The veteran actress was born in Los Angeles, and got her start in show business as a chorus girl at New York’s Cotton Club, before joining the Ebony theater.
RIP Juanita Moore, a true great. One of my favorite performances in any film was hers in Imitation of Life. If you haven't seen it, see it!
— Adam Horowitz (@AdamHorowitzLA) January 1, 2014
RIP Juanita Moore. Her work in 1959's Imitation of Life is a moving, complex moment in the history of African-Americans in Hollywood films.
— Mark Harris (@MarkHarrisNYC) January 1, 2014
Imitation Of Life, released in 1959, allowed her to become the fifth black performer to be nominated for an Oscar, a film that became a big hit, and later gained a cult following. The film tells the story of a struggling white actress’ rise to stardom, her friendship with a black woman and how they team up to raise their daughters as single mothers.
In addition to Imitation Of Life, Juanita Moore appeared in several films and television shows. Her first film appearance was as a nurse in the 1949 film Pinky.
As with other African American actresses at the time, Juanita Moore was forced to play maids in several of her early films. She also appeared in The Girl Can’t Help It, The Singing Nun, Paternity and The Kid. Her television credits included The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Adam-12, Judging Amy, and ER.
In Imitation of Life, Juanita Moore's Annie poses as her daughter's "mammy" so the girl can pass as white. Pure melodrama, pure beauty. #RIP
— Dana Stevens (@thehighsign) January 1, 2014
Juanita Moore’s last acting credit came in 2000 with the film The Kid. Although she will always be remembered for her role as a housekeeper in Imitation Of Life, she appeared in over 30 films throughout her career, and was often seen in strong supporting roles.
In Sirk's Imitation of Life, Juanita Moore was as great as Bette Davis.But she in films she 'held the door for white people' as she put it.
— mark cousins (@markcousinsfilm) January 1, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons