Kaycee Moore, Actress in Black Directors’ Seminal Films, Dies at 77

Kaycee Moore, whose nuanced appearing documented Black American life in films by a gaggle of younger, Black impartial administrators in Los Angeles in the 1970s and ’80s, died on Aug. 13 at her residence in Kansas City, Kan. She was 77.

The loss of life was confirmed by the Watkins Heritage Funeral residence. No trigger was given.

Ms. Moore made solely a handful of films, however that they had an outsize influence on American cinema. Her portrayals defied the standard roles for Black girls of her period, in action-packed or trauma-filled blockbusters, and as an alternative laid naked the inside lives of her characters.

Her debut got here in “Killer of Sheep” (1978), the director Charles Burnett’s first characteristic. (It was his thesis for the movie program at the University of California, Los Angeles.) Mr. Burnett was a member of the neighborhood of impartial filmmakers that might later develop into generally known as the L.A. Rebellion.

Their films, in contrast to many mainstream Hollywood footage, humanized Black characters and celebrated Black household life, although they didn’t shrink back from hardship. Ms. Moore’s characters in “Killer of Sheep” and “Bless Their Little Hearts” (1983) have been each struggling wives who wished the perfect for his or her kids and husbands in a system portrayed as designed to maintain Black Americans down and out.

“Killer of Sheep” follows a Los Angeles slaughterhouse employee whose main of lambs to their loss of life takes on biblical resonance. Ms. Moore performed the employee’s unnamed spouse as she raises their household in the blighted Los Angeles neighborhood of Watts. Critics lauded the movie’s stark visible fashion, and The Sacramento Bee known as Ms. Moore’s efficiency “incandescent.”

Upon the movie’s rerelease in 2007, the critic Stuart Klawans, writing in The Nation, praised the “profoundly moving” work of Ms. Moore and Henry G. Sanders, who performed her husband. “Their lives are denuded in many ways, materially impoverished and spiritually numbed,” he wrote, “but for all that, they have the grandeur of unchallengeable fact.”

“Bless Their Little Hearts” got here subsequent for Ms. Moore. She performed Andais, the spouse of the protagonist, Charlie (Nate Hardman). The movie, directed by Billy Woodbury and written by Mr. Burnett, charts Charlie’s battle to seek out everlasting work and the temptations he faces to show to crime, all set towards the backdrop of a newly begun extramarital affair.

Looking again at the L.A. Rebellion movies in an essay in The New York Times in 2020, the critic Ben Kenigsberg discovered Ms. Moore’s efficiency naturalistic. “She is shown in contrasting scenes riding the bus: in one, she nods off from fatigue; later, having discovered that Charlie is having an affair, she is wide-awake,” he wrote. “When the two finally fight about the fling, the scene, staged in a single take, feels utterly extemporaneous.”

Acting in “Bless Their Little Hearts” was not all the time simple for Ms. Moore. She recalled in the manufacturing notes for the movie that the climactic argument scene, filmed in one take, included precise bodily violence. But “for the most part,” she mentioned, “it was a film set that was full of love.”

Her appearing fashion, Mr. Woodberry, the director, mentioned in an interview, was not naturalistic however life like, knowledgeable by small expressions and actions and drawn from private expertise. “She’s a person who knew a lot about life,” he mentioned of Ms. Moore, “and she could bring that to the character.”

Ms. Moore later joined an ensemble solid of Black actors in Julie Dash’s “Daughters of the Dust” (1991), which is usually thought of the primary movie by a Black girl to realize a large launch in the United States. In the movie, Ms. Moore performed Haagar Peazant, a discontented member of the insular Gullah neighborhood in the islands off South Carolina throughout the Jim Crow period. Ms. Moore imbued the character, who desires to go away the neighborhood, with an iron will.

“The film is an extended, wildly lyrical meditation on the power of African cultural iconography and the spiritual resilience of the generations of women who have been its custodians,” The Times critic Stephen Holden wrote in 1992.

L.A. Rebellion films have entered the pantheon of American movie. “Daughters of the Dust” and “Bless Their Little Hearts” have been made a part of the celebrated Criterion Collection, and “Killer of Sheep” was one of many first 50 movies launched into the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry in 1990.

Kaycee Collier was born in Kansas City, Kan., on Feb. 24, 1944. Her mom, Angie Mae (Sandifer) Aker, was an activist and advocate for Black Americans with sickle cell illness. Kaycee had seven siblings, two of whom died of sickle cell anemia, inspiring her mom’s devotion to the trigger, in response to “Kansas City Women of Independent Minds,” a 1992 e-book by the Kansas City historian Jane Fifield Flynn. Kaycee’s father, Andrew Collier, died shortly after her start, Ms. Flynn wrote.

She married John Moore Jr. in 1959 and later married Stephen Jones. She is survived by the 2 kids of her first marriage, John Moore III and Michelle Moore Swinton; her siblings Margaret Hall, Angie Ruth Wesley, Frances Collier and Jimmie Collier; three grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.

It was in the 1970s that Ms. Moore headed west to audition for Hollywood roles and met Mr. Burnett, the filmmaker who would solid her in “Killer of Sheep.” Her final main movie position was in “Ninth Street” (1999), by the writer-director Kevin Willmott.

After her mom died in the 1990s, Ms. Moore took over her position as govt director of the Kansas City chapter of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America.