‘Imitation of Life’ Actress Juanita Moore Dies at 99

Actress Juanita Moore collapsed and died on Wednesday in her Los Angeles home, reports the Associated Press. She was 99.

The thespian who completed more than 30 films in her career received a Best Supporting actress Oscar nomination for role as Annie Johnson, the mother of a daughter who passes for white, in The Imitation of Life (1959) opposite Lana Turner and Susan Kohner. Moore was the fifth black actress to ever be recognized by the academy.

Moore said in a 2005 interview that playing Annie Johnson was both challenging and rewarding for her. “Annie was a good role for me,” explained Moore. “I have been in a lot of pictures. However, most of them consisted of my opening doors for white people.” As for how difficult it was to get this iconic film made, Moore said she often struggled on set. “There were times I was so nervous the muscles were jumping in my face. 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.”

Kohner, Moore’s onscreen daughter, spoke very highly of the late actress saying they kept in touch over the years. “I would speak to her every year on her birthday,” Kohner told The Hollywood Reporter. “So I last spoke to her on October 19th. I had promised to visit her this time when I came out to visit my family, and I guess the timing was just off. We were very fond of each other. We sort of completed each other’s performances. I think she completed mine and I completed hers. It was a lovely experience for me. She was a very, very good actress and a lovely human being and had a wonderful sense of humor.”

Moore was preceded in death by her husband, Charles Burris. She is survived by one grandson and two nephews.

Relive the magic of Moore’s and Kohner’s chemistry below.