Juanita Moore

Juanita Moore (October 19, 1914 – January 1, 2014) was an American film, television, and stage actress.

Juanita Moore
1950s studio publicity shot
Born(1914-10-19)October 19, 1914
DiedJanuary 1, 2014 (aged 99)
Resting placeInglewood Park Cemetery
Years active1942–2001
Notable work
Imitation of Life (1959)

She was the fifth black actor to be nominated for an Academy Award in any category, and the third in the Supporting Actress category at a time when only one black actor, Hattie McDaniel in Gone with the Wind (1939), had won an Oscar.

Her most famous role was as Annie Johnson in the movie Imitation of Life (1959).[1]

Early life and career

Juanita Moore was born in Greenwood, Mississippi, the daughter of Ella (née Dunn) and Harrison Moore. She had seven siblings (six sisters and one brother).[2] Her family moved in the Great Migration to Los Angeles, where she was raised. Moore first performed as a dancer, part of a chorus line at the Cotton Club before becoming a film extra while working in theater.

Moore was the vice president of the Original Cambridge Players, who took a Los Angeles production of The Amen Corner to Broadway at the Ethel Barrymore Theater in April 1965. She was friends with Marlon Brando and James Baldwin. It was Moore who asked Brando to lend the funds ($75) to Baldwin to write the play.

After making her film debut in Double Deal (1939),[1] Moore had a number of bit parts and supporting roles in motion pictures through the late 1930's and 1950s.

Moore's performance in the remake of Imitation of Life (1959) as black housekeeper Annie Johnson, whose daughter Sarah Jane (Susan Kohner) passes for white, won her a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. She was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture for the role.[3] When the two versions of Imitation of Life were released together on DVD (the earlier film was released in 1934), one of the bonus features was a new interview with Moore.

Moore continued to act for film and TV, with a role in Disney's The Kid (2000), and guest-starring roles on Dragnet, Adam-12, Marcus Welby, M.D., ER and Judging Amy.

On April 23, 2010, a new print of Imitation of Life (1959) was screened at the Turner Classic Movies Film Festival in Los Angeles. Both Moore and co-star Kohner attended. After the screening, the two women appeared on stage for a question-and-answer session hosted by TCM's Robert Osborne. Moore and Kohner received standing ovations.[4]

Personal life

Moore was married for 50 years to Charles Burris, who died in 2001. He was a Los Angeles bus driver and they met when she stepped out in front of his approaching bus. She and Burris married a few weeks later.[5]

Her grandson is actor/producer Kirk E. Kelleykahn, who is CEO/President of "Cambridge Players – Next Generation", a theatre troupe whose founding members included Moore, Esther Rolle, Helen Martin, Lynn Hamilton and Royce Wallace, Isabel Sanford, Beah Richards and Maya Angelou.[6]


Moore died at her home in Los Angeles on January 1, 2014, from natural causes. She was 99 years old. She is buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery.[1][7]

Partial filmography


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