Juanita Moore
Birth Date:
Los Angeles, California, USA
Birth Place:
October 19, 1922
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Imitation of Life


Juanita Moore is best recalled for her outstanding scene stealing portrayal of housekeeper Annie Johnson on the 1959 remake of “Imitation of Life.” The role brought her both an Oscar and Golden Globe nominations as well as a Golden Laurel (2nd place) Award. Moore becomes the fifth African American to receive an Academy Award nomination in any category, and the third in the Supporting Actress category. The former chorus girl has guest starred in many TV shows, including “Judging Amy,” “ER,” “Insight” and “Marcus Welby, M.D.” Moore retired in 2001, after having been working in showbiz for nearly 60 years.     

Los Angeles Native

Childhood and Family:

Juanita Moore was born on October 19, 1922, in  Los Angeles, California. She grew up in South Los Angeles, California and attended the Jefferson High School.

The Singing Nun


In the 1930s, Juanita Moore performed as chorus girl at the Cotton Club, where she met her lifelong friend Dorothy Dandridge. She then worked as an extra  films, for which she got $10 or $12 per day, before honing her craft in local stage productions at the Ebony Showcase, Theater. Moore's first film role was as a nurse in the Academy Award nominated drama “Pinky” (1949), which was directed by Elia Kazan and starred Jeanne Crain, Ethel Barrymore and Ethel Waters.

Throughout the 1950s, Moore mostly was cast in the stereotypical roles as domestics. Her feature film credits during this period were “Lydia Bailey” (1952), “Affair in Trinidad” (1952), “Witness to Murder” (1954), “Women's Prison” (1955) and “Ransom!” (1956), to name a few. Her career gained momentum in the late 1950s when she landed the role of  Annie Johnson, the hard-working housekeeper to actress Lora Meredith (played by Lana Turner) on “Imitation of Life” (1959), a film adaptation of  Fannie Hurst's novel of the same name. Directed by Douglas Sirk, her excellent portrayal of the broken-hearted Annie, whose  light-skinned daughter Sarah Jane (played by Susan Kohner) tried to withhold her roots by passing for Caucasian, garnered Moore a 1960  Academy Award nomination in the category of Best Actress in a Supporting Role as well as a Golden Globe nomination in the same category.  Moore also received Golden Laurel (2nd place) for Top Female Supporting Performance for her performance.

Next up for Moore, she scored supporting roles in “Tammy, Tell Me True” (1961), a comedy film starring Sandra Dee, John Gavin and Charles Drake, and the George Marshall helmed “Papa's Delicate Condition” (1963), which won an Oscar for Best Music, Original Song. In 1966, she played the role of Sister Mary, one of the the title character's fellow sisters,  in “The Singing Nun,” starring Debbie Reynolds. She worked with Rosalind Russell, Sandra Dee and Brian Aherne in “Rosie!” (1967) and with Jason Bernard, Raymond St. Jacques and Ruby Dee in “Up Tight!” (1968). The 1960s also saw Moore guest star in various television series like “The DuPont Show with June Allyson,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Going My Way,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Ben Casey,” “Mr. Novak,” “The Farmer's Daughter” and “Dragnet 1967.” She portrayed  Mrs. Harberson in the TV movie “The Whole World Is Watching” (NBC, 1969).

After appearing in a Mexican film, “Angelitos negros” (1970), Moore was cast in the supporting role of Viney in “Skin Game” (1971), an underrated Western movie directed by Paul Bogart and starring James Garner, Louis Gossett Jr. and Susan Clark. She continued to act in “The Mack” (1973), a crime/drama film directed by Michael Campus, “Fox Style” (1973), a drama written and helmed by Clyde Houston, “Thomasine & Bushrod” (1974), “The Get-Man” (1974), “Abby” (1974, starred Carol Speed, William Marshall and Terry Carter), “Fugitive Lovers” (1975) and “Deliver Us from Evil” (1977, with Marie O'Henry, Renny Roker and Candi Keath). Meanwhile, the actress maintained her presence on the small screen with guest appearances in “Mannix” (1970), “Ironside” (1971), “The Partners” (1971), “Adam-12” (1973), “ Marcus Welby, M.D.” (1972-73), “Ellery Queen” (1976) and “The Richard Pryor Show” (1977). In 1973, she co-starred as Fannie Mitchell in “A Dream for Christmas,” an unsold ABC pilot for a series about a black family that was created by Earl Hamner.

In the early 1980s, Moore could be seen playing Miss. Fletcher in an “ ABC Weekend Specials” episode called “The Notorious Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (1981) and had a featured role as Celia in the comedy/romance film “Paternity” (1981), starring Burt Reynolds, Beverly D'Angelo and Norman Fell. After guest starring in “Insight” (1982), she landed a small role as Ethel in William Bartman's “O'Hara's Wife” (1982), starring Edward Asner, Mariette Hartley and Jodie Foster. However, Moore did not appear in another film until 1988's “Two Moon Junction,” a drama/romance directed by Zalman King. She largely spent the 1990s outside of the limelight, but her voice still could be heard as  Grandma Jones in the Tanya Fenmore drama film “The Sterling Chase” (1999).    

After over a decade absence, Moore eventually serumed her acting career with a small role in Disney's hit, “The Kid” (2000), starring Bruce Willis and Spencer Breslin. The same year, she appeared as Mrs. Barnwell in an episode  of “ER” called “Flight of Fancy.” Before she retired, Moore played the role of Katerine Barrantes in an episode of “Judging Amy” called “One for the Road” (2001).     


Laurel: Golden Laurel, 2nd place, Top Female Supporting Performance, “Imitation of Life,” 1959  Show Less
Juanita Moore, Oscar nominated actress, dead at 99
SP_COP - January 02, 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.Actor Kirk Kelleykahn, her grandson,...
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