Nation & World News

Juanita Moore, Groundbreaking Actress, Dies

By Mark Memmott on January 2nd, 2014

“Juanita Moore, a groundbreaking actress and an Academy Award nominee for her role as Lana Turner’s black friend in the classic weeper Imitation of Life, has died,” The Associated Press writes.

The wire service adds that “actor Kirk Kelleykahn, her grandson, said that Moore collapsed and died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 99, according to Kelleykahn. Accounts of her age have differed over the years.”

The Los Angeles Times calls Moore “a pioneering African American actress.” She was “only the fifth African American ever to receive an Academy Award nomination, a rare honor in a racially divided era when actors of color seldom claimed rewarding roles.” Imitation of Life, the Times says, “is a subversive masterwork of socially conscious cinema that gained a cultish popularity in later years.”

BET’s Celebrities blog writes that:

“Like many actresses of her time, Moore was forced to play maids in racially-charged Hollywood. But her Oscar-nominated role in the 1959 remake of Imitation of Life made her a star. Moore played Annie Johnson, a maid with a black child who passed [for] white and eventually rejected her mother. The film’s handling of racial idenitity was controversial for the time and there have been talks of a remake for decades.”

Moore once lamented that being an Oscar nominee had a downside, the AP says:

” ‘The Oscar prestige was fine, but I worked more before I was nominated,’ Moore told the Los Angeles Times in 1967. ‘Casting directors think an Oscar nominee is suddenly in another category. They couldn’t possibly ask you to do one or two days’ work.’ ”

But she also realized that her portrayal of Annie in Imitation of Life broke a barrier. “Annie was a good role for me,” she said in a 2005 interview posted by Black Star News. “I [had] been in a lot of pictures. However, most of them consisted of my opening doors for white people.”

She also said then that: “I cried a lot in the making of [the] movie because it was real easy for me to cry. I had a lot to cry about. Conditions for black actors were unbelievable back then. Very few black actors got the opportunity to hone their craft in the same way white actors did.”

As her profile at IMDB.com shows, Moore remained active into the 21st Century. She was a frequent guest on TV dramas, including The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Dragnet and Mannix.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

This entry was posted in News from NPR. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.

 

More Stories in News from NPR

An up-close shot of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's suit reveals its telltale lettering: his name, in stripes of gold down his jacket.

India’s Modi Makes A Name For Himself — Literally — In Meeting With Obama

The Indian prime minister wore a suit with pinstripes that read “Narendra Damodardas Modi.” The reaction on social media was scathing, but Modi is often lauded for his fashion choices.


Newly sworn-in Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras waves on his way to enter his new offices in Athens on Monday.

Greece’s Left-Wing Prime Minister Takes Charge

Alexis Tsipras, who led Syriza to an improbable win in the parliamentary election, was sworn in today amid fears about what his win means for the country’s bailout agreements with the European Union.


Secret Service officers patrol in front of the White House on Jan. 20.

‘Quad Copter’ Flew Into, Crashed On White House Grounds, Secret Service Says

The Secret Service says the overnight incident is being investigated. The White House says the device posed no threat. The president and the first lady are in India.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posted this photo taken Monday of the storm bearing down on the U.S. Northeast.

From New Jersey To Maine, Northeast Braces For Massive Blizzard

The potentially historic nor’easter could bring more than 2 feet of snow to the region today and Tuesday. Travel is expected to be affected, with thousands of flights already canceled.


Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.

Hagel: Stress Of ‘Nonstop War’ Forcing Out Good Soldiers

In an interview with NPR’s Morning Edition, outgoing Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel says he is concerned about the toll of repeatedly rotating the same soldiers back to the front lines.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments