Juanita Moore Dies: Oscar-Nominated 'Imitation of Life' Star Was 99

Image: Juanita Moore Dies: Oscar-Nominated 'Imitation of Life' Star Was 99

Thursday, 02 Jan 2014 09:45 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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Juanita Moore, an African-American actress nominated for an Academy Award in 1960 for her role opposite Lana Turner in the film "Imitation of Life," died at her Los Angeles home Wednesday at 99.

Moore, who had an active stage career, collapsed and died at her home, her grandson and actor Kirk Kahn told the Associated Press.

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Moore said in an earlier interview that while her Oscar nomination for best supporting actress was meaningful, she believed it limited, rather than increased, her acting opportunities. She was only the fifth black performer to be nominated for an Oscar at the time.

"The Oscar prestige was fine, but I worked more before I was nominated," Moore told the Los Angeles Times in 1967, per the AP. "Casting directors think an Oscar nominee is suddenly in another category. They couldn't possibly ask you to do one or two days' work. You wouldn't accept it. And I'm sure I would."

Kahn told Variety that Moore had planned to take part in a reading at the Saban Theater this month.

"She didn't candy-coat it for you," Kahn said. "She said, 'If you're no good, the play's no good.' She gave back to the community in so many ways. Wherever we went she stopped and told black boys and girls they could do anything with their lives."

Kahn said that Moore was a founding member of the Cambridge Players and performed alongside actresses like Esther Rolle. He said she was honored at the Black Theater Festival in North Carolina.

The Los Angeles Times reported that Moore got her big break performing in the chorus at the famed Cotton Club in New York City but moved on to theater, appearing at Los Angeles' Ebony Showcase Theater in the 1950s.

Moore starred in a London stage production of "A Raisin in the Sun" and in James Baldwin's Broadway play "The Amen Corner" in 1966. She also had small roles as servants in '50s movies, and supporting roles in such movies as "The Girl Can't Help It" with Jayne Mansfield, "The Singing Nun" with Debbie Reynolds and the 1970s Blaxploitation film "The Mack."

Moore is survived by her grandson and two nephews.

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