Juanita Moore, an Oscar nominee for her role in the 1959 big-screen melodrama Imitation of Life, died at her Los Angeles home on Wednesday, reports Variety. She was 99.
Moore, who made more than 30 films, was the fifth African-American to receive an Academy Award nomination – a Best Supporting Actress nod for playing Annie Johnson, a housekeeper (to Lana Turner) whose light-skinned daughter (Susan Kohner) passes for white.
“Annie was a good role for me,” Moore said in a 2005 interview. “I have been in a lot of pictures. However, most of them consisted of my opening doors for white people.”
Although Moore said she did a lot of crying while shooting the picture, director Douglas Sirk was patient with her.
“There were times I was so nervous the muscles were jumping in my face,” she added. “I cried a lot in the making of this 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 actors got the opportunity to hone their craft in the same way white actors did.”
Costar Kohner told the Hollywood Reporter on Wednesday, after hearing of Moore’s death, “I would speak to her every year on her birthday, so I last spoke to her Oct. 19. … We were very fond of each other. … She was a very, very good actress and a lovely human being and had a wonderful sense of humor.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, survivors include a step-grandson, Kirk Kahn, and two nephews. Moore’s husband, Charles Burris, is reported to have died in 2001.
• Additional reporting by STEPHEN M. SILVERMAN