Oakland Man Is On A Mission To Get His Late Aunt A Star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame
12th June 2021 by BOTWC Staff
12th June 2021 by BOTWC Staff
She’s more than deserving!
An Oakland man is on a mission to get his late aunt a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, KQED reports.
Arnett Moore is the nephew of pioneering actress Juanita Moore. Over the course of Ms. Moore’s seven-decade stage and film career, she “made more than 80 film and television appearances,” was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance in the 1959 movie, “Imitation of Life,” and continued to work well into her 80s, her last role coming in 2000, playing a grandmother in Disney’s “The Kid,” alongside Bruce Willis. Now Moore is working to make sure his aunt gets his just due, going on a one man mission to get the attention of The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, the body responsible for reviewing candidates for the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“In the ‘50s when I was growing up, when you saw a Black person on the TV screen, you got excited. And Juanita was that face you saw again and again and again. You might not know her name, but you knew that she was that person,” said Moore.
Photo Courtesy of Arnett Moore
Ms. Moore was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, the youngest of nine children. In 1921, her family moved to Los Angeles, becoming first introduced to entertainment as a member of the glee club at Thomas Jefferson High School. A teacher suggested she pursue a career on stage because of her immense talent. Eventually, she moved to New York, working as a showgirl at just 18 at the Cafe Zanzibar during the Harlem Renaissance. Ms. Moore eventually had to travel to Europe to break into the industry, since Black entertainers were more accepted there than in America, performing at the London Palladium and with Josephine Baker. She returned to California when her mother died, pursuing a career in film.
“She started out in, they called it, Black cinema or race movies...But these were all movies that you aren’t getting credit for, for being a Hollywood star yet,” Moore said of his aunt’s career.
Her first big film came in 1949, where she played a nurse in the movie “Pinky.” A decade later, she would finally get her major onscreen role at the age of 44, playing Annie, a woman whose light-skinned daughter rejects her Black identity to pass as white, in the movie “Imitation of Life.” Ms. Moore received an Academy Award nomination, making history as the fifth Black actor to be nominated for an Oscar. While she hoped it would lead to bigger roles, it didn’t, mainly because she refused to play stereotypical roles that she felt depicted Black people in a negative light.
“She once said she was from the boudoir to the jungle. In other words, she played a maid to a savage. And that was her early career. One thing she wouldn’t do is play the mammy role or the buffoon roles. She would not do those, and those that did became very successful. But she refused to do those,” said Moore.
During a 1995 interview, Ms. Moore spoke on her decision to turn down certain roles, saying, “I didn’t want to carry the trays anymore. I knew that was the only kind of job that I was going to get. I knew that, but I did not want to do that. So I don’t know if being nominated helped me or not.”
Much of what the 75-year-old Moore learned of his aunt’s life came after her passing. He admits that she never talked much about her career when he was a child and he had to uncover a lot of the history himself. His aunt passed away in 2014, right before New Year’s Day at the age of 99. A few months before she died, Moore had a conversation with her that inspired the work he’s doing now.
“I said, Nita, do you want a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame? And she says, ‘If you think I deserve one, baby.’ From that point on, I did everything I could to look and research and see how she could earn a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame,” Moore said.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce only picks one posthumous candidate to receive the honor annually. This is the third year in a row that Moore has submitted his aunt for consideration. He hopes that they will choose her, but if they don’t he plans to keep submitting until they do.
“I’m very proud of her. She had a lot of obstacles, the biggest one being racism...she’s a star without a star,” said Moore.
Let’s all elevate Ms. Juanita Moore’s enormous contribution. She’s going to get the star! Thank you for your work Arnett!
Photo Courtesy of Amanda Font/KQED