Marsha Hunt, Actress Blacklisted in Hollywood, Dies at 104

Marsha Hunt, the bright-eyed starlet who stood out in movies like: Ye Glamor Girls, pride and Prejudice And raw deal She has died, before her career is uncovered by the communist witch hunt that hit Hollywood. She was 104 years old.

She died of natural causes on Tuesday evening at her Sherman Oaks home, where she had lived since 1946, Roger C. Memos – Documentary writer-director Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity – Told Hollywood Reporter,

Hunt also appeared with Mickey Rooney in the Oscar-nominated Best Picture The Human Comedy (1943) during a period in which she was known as “Hollywood’s youngest character actress”.

A former model who signed with Paramount Pictures at age 17, the Chicago native made her first big splash at MGM as Suicide co-ed opposite Lana Turner Ye Glamor Girls (1939).

Playing the role of Walter Brennan’s girlfriend in Joe and Ethel Turp call on the President (1939), Hunt onscreen aged 16 to 65. He portrayed Dau Sister Mary Bennett pride and Prejudice (1940), and in Anthony Mann’s film noir classic raw deal (1948), she was the good girl opposite Claire Trevor and Denise O’Keefe.

years later, in johnny got his gun (1971) — written by blacklisted author Dalton Trumbo — Hunt played the mother of Timothy Bottoms’ quadruple-amputee character.

Although she never achieved the stardom of some of her co-stars, Hunt was proud of her career, especially early on. “Before I turned 30, I had played four older roles, and I was Hollywood’s youngest character actress … no two roles are the same,” she told the website Ms in the Biz in 2015.

In 1947, Hunt and her second husband, screenwriter Robert Presnell Jr., joined the committee for the First Amendment, which questioned the legitimacy of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was seeking to kick Communists out of the entertainment industry. .

The committee, which also included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, John Huston and other Hollywood liberals, chartered a plane to Washington to sit at HUAC hearings and support the 19 creatives under investigation. .

However, Bogart and others quickly backtracked, saying that he had been betrayed by the Communists and that his visit to Washington had not been advised. While it helped save his career, Hunt did not repent. In June 1950, he was listed red channelThe right-wing pamphlet that pointed fingers at many actors, directors, screenwriters and others for being sympathetic to the “subversive” cause.

“You know, I was never interested in communism,” she said in a 2004 interview. “I was very interested in my industry, my country and my government. But I was shocked by the behavior of my government and its misbehavior with my industry. And so I spoke up and protested like everyone else on that flight. But then I was told, once I was blacklisted, you see, I was an outspoken liberal, and it was bad. I was told that really it wasn’t about communism – that was the thing that scared everyone – it was about control and power.

“The way you gain control is that everyone has to agree to whatever is acceptable, whatever is appropriate at the time. Don’t question anything, don’t speak up, not your views.” Don’t be frank about it, never be eloquent, and if you’re ever one of those things, you’re controversial. And it’s just as bad, probably worse than being a communist. Which is still quite Was legal, you know: The Communist Party was still legal in America, running candidates for public office. But you lost your career, your good name, your savings, maybe your marriage, your friends, if you’re a Communist. It was horrifying, just horrifying.”

his story was told Marsha Hunt’s Sweet AdversityReleased in 2015.

She was born as Marcia Virginia Hunt on October 17, 1917 in Chicago. His father, Earl, was an insurance executive and his mother, Minabelle, was a vocal coach. She and her family moved to New York City, and she graduated from the Horace Mann School for Girls at the age of 16.

Hunt plunged into a career as a model when her high school yearbook photographer used her image as an advertising sample. She was signed by the Powers Agency, becoming a “Powers Girl” and learning to pose and behave in front of a lens.

A friend of photographer-turned-publicists Robert and Sarah Mack, Hunt moved to Hollywood at the age of 17, signed with Paramount after his agent, Zeppo Marx, received her $250 a week and played the female lead in her first film. handjob Virginia Judge (1935). She appeared in several films as a simpleton and love interest – John Wayne romanced her. born in the west (1937) – but the studio refused to renew his contract in 1938.

She landed at MGM hardy ride high (1939) and went on to appear in the studio Mary Dugana’s Trial (1941) as Brooklyn Chorus Girl; In kid glove killer (1942), director Fred Zineman’s first American feature; in World War II drama cry ‘havok’ (1943); and Jules Dassin as the top-billed title character in the romantic comedy Evie. a letter to (1946).

An exhibitor’s poll placed her in the “Top 10 Stars of Tomorrow” – others on the list included Roddy McDowall, Gloria DeHaven, Sydney Greenstreet, June Ellison and Barry Fitzgerald – and that she was not a star when she was acting. Serving as a hostess. In the famous Hollywood canteen for American soldiers.

In 1948, Hunt made a Hollywood-set . I made my stage debut joy to the World, directed by Jules Dassin; Two years later, she was back on Broadway in George Bernard Shaw’s devil’s disciple and occupied the cover of Life magazine.

Later Devils pupil set off, Hunt left for Europe, but when she returned, red channel was published, and her career – she had made over 50 films by then – will never be the same.

She went on to guest-star in shows such as Ford Television Theater, Climax! And Alfred Hitchcock PresentsWas a regular on the short-lived 1959 series peck’s bad girl and later appeared Gunsmoke, the Twilight Zone, Ben Casey, my three sons, brave, murder She Wrote And Star Trek: The Next Generation,

Franchot Tone (left) and Jean Kelly, Marsha Hunt with her co-stars in ‘Pilot #5’ in 1943.

Courtesy Everett Collection

Hunt was a member of the SAG board and served on various Progressive Committees; One advised actress Olivia de Havilland in her unprecedented legal case against the studio system and Warner Bros., and another petitioned the studio to hire minority actors outside of conservative roles.

In 1955, a trip around the world opened her eyes to the plight of Third World nations, and she threw herself into humanitarian efforts, appearing on behalf of the United Nations and becoming what she called a “patriot of the planet”.

In April 2015, she was named as the inaugural recipient of the Marsha Hunt for Humanity Award, created by Kat Kramer, daughter of famed eclectic director-producer Stanley Kramer.

Kat Kramer said Hunt was “one of Hollywood’s first major actresses to dedicate her life to a cause,” and she starred with Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Patricia Arquette, Sharon Stone, George Clooney. paved the way for , Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Tippi Hedren, Ed Begley Jr., Ed Asner and Martin Sheen – celebrities who use their fame as a voice for change.”

Hunt can be seen in all her glamour, in the 1993 book The Way We Wore: The Styles of the 1930s and ’40s and Our World SinceIn which there are pictures of him in many of his clothes of that time.

Hunt moved to Sherman Oaks in 1946 and served as its honorary mayor for more than two decades. He and Presnell were married for 40 years until his death in 1986 at the age of 71. They did not have any child.

He is survived by a nephew, actor-director Alan Hunt, and other nieces and nephews. A donation may be made to LA Family Housing in his memory.

In 2008, Hunt starred in the 22-minute film great inquisitorWritten and directed by Eddie Muller.

“Working with him was the most rewarding collaboration of my life. I doubt it will always be there,” the host of TCM’s Noir Alley later said raw deal And great inquisitor Played back-to-back on the cable channel last month. “He is simply the most extraordinary human being I have ever known.”

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