Juanita Moore, Oscar Nominee for ‘Imitation of Life’, Dies at 99

January 4th, 2014

Juanita Moore, who earned an Academy Award nomination in 1960 for the single major movie role she ever landed, then fell by way of the cracks of a Hollywood program with small to offer a black actress in addition to modest parts as maids and nannies, died on Tuesday in Los Angeles. She was ninety nine.

Her dying was verified by her grandson, Kirk Kelleykahn, an actor and dancer.

Ms. Moore gained a best supporting actress nomination for her part in the 1959 movie “Imitation of Daily life,” in which she played opposite Lana Turner in a tale about two single mothers, a single black and a single white. It was only the fifth time an African-American performer experienced been nominated for an Oscar.

The two females commence ostensibly as social equals dwelling underneath the same roof, but their lives diverge alongside racial and class traces. Ms. Turner’s character becomes a popular actress Annie Johnson, performed by Ms. Moore, turns into her housemaid.

The final film that the filmmaker Douglas Sirk directed in Hollywood, “Imitation of Life” was widely dismissed as campy melodrama at the time. Its therapy of the extreme suffering triggered by racial bias, which includes a subplot in which Annie’s mild-skinned daughter renounces her to reside as a white particular person, was witnessed as unbelievable. (“If by incident we should move in the road,” the daughter, played by Susan Kohner, tells her, “please do not recognize me.” Ms. Kohner was also nominated for a best supporting actress Oscar.)

But the movie has given that been re-evaluated and offered higher marks by many movie historians and critics for the subtlety of its social criticism and psychological perception.

Ms. Moore’s overall performance, in specific, has attained her generations of new supporters, stated Foster Hirsch, a professor of film at Brooklyn University who has organized a number of tutorial conferences on “Imitation of Lifestyle.”

“She delivers an astounding overall performance,” Mr. Hirsch said. “She does a death scene that nevertheless minimizes audiences to tears — I have noticed it many moments.”

But right after she was nominated for an Oscar, Ms. Moore informed The Los Angeles Occasions in 1967, the operate appeared to dry up. “The Oscar prestige was fine, but I worked more just before I was nominated,” she explained. “Casting directors think an Oscar nominee is all of a sudden in an additional category. They couldn’t probably question you to do one particular or two days’ operate.”

. It would be a ten years far more just before black actresses like Ms. Moore would be deemed for key roles, Mr. Hirsch noted.

Ms. Moore was born in Greenwood, Miss., on Oct. 19, 1914, and lifted in South Central Los Angeles, the youngest of Harrison and Ella Moore’s 8 children. After graduating from high faculty and investing a handful of months at Los Angeles Town College, she decamped for New York in look for of a phase job.

She grew to become a dancer. All through the nineteen thirties and ’40s she executed in the elaborate stage displays of nightclubs in Harlem, such as the Cotton Club, and in Paris and London, before returning to Los Angeles. She analyzed performing at the Actors’ Laboratory and started getting little, uncredited components in movies, like that of a maid and an African tribeswoman. She was previously in her mid-30s by the times she made her film debut, in Elia Kazan’s “Pinky” (1949), also a movie about race. (During her job she hid her true age, stating she had been born in 1922.)

Right after “Imitation of Existence,” she appeared in tv dramas and in movies including “Walk on the Wild Side” and “The Singing Nun.” She appeared on Broadway in James Baldwin’s engage in “The Amen Corner” in 1965 and in a London generation of “A Raisin in the Sunlight.” And she was active on the Los Angeles stage, executing with the Ebony Showcase Theater and the Cambridge Gamers.

Mr. Kelleykahn, her grandson, is her only fast survivor. Ms. Moore’s initial husband, the dancer Nyas Berry, died in 1951. Her next partner, Charles Burris, a Los Angeles bus driver, died in 2001.

Sam Staggs, writer of the 2009 ebook “Born to Be Hurt: The Untold Tale of ‘Imitation of Life,’ ” explained in a telephone job interview on Friday that Ms. Moore’s functionality was the main cause for the film’s box-office success (it was a single of the most profitable films made to that position by Universal Studios).

Individuals came in droves to observe in the darkish and weep, Mr. Staggs explained: “There are several, many men and women alive today who don’t forget crying at her efficiency, but who could not tell you her identify.”

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