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Marsha Hunt dies: Actress, McCarthy-era blacklist sufferer was 104

Marsha Hunt dies: Actress, McCarthy-era blacklist sufferer was 104

She labored with performers starting from Laurence Olivier to Andy Griffith in a profession disrupted for a time by the McCarthy-era blacklist.

LOS ANGELES — Marsha Hunt, one of many final surviving actors from Hollywood’s so-called Golden Age of the Thirties and Nineteen Forties who labored with performers starting from Laurence Olivier to Andy Griffith in a profession disrupted for a time by the McCarthy-era blacklist, has died. She was 104.

Hunt, who appeared in additional than 100 films and TV reveals, died Wednesday at her residence in Sherman Oaks, California, stated Roger Memos, the writer-director of the 2015 documentary “Marsha Hunt’s Candy Adversity.”

A Chicago native, she arrived in Hollywood in 1935 and over the following 15 years appeared in dozens of movies, from the Preston Sturges comedy “Straightforward Residing” to the variation of Jane Austen’s “Pleasure and Prejudice” that starred Olivier and Greer Garson.

She was effectively underneath 40 when MGM named her “Hollywood’s Youngest Character Actress.” And by the early Fifties, she was sufficient of a star to seem on the duvet of Life journal and appear set to thrive within the new medium of tv when abruptly “the work dried up,” she recalled in 1996.

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The explanation, she discovered from her agent, was that the communist-hunting Crimson Channels publication had revealed that she attended a peace convention in Stockholm and different supposedly suspicious gatherings. Alongside Hollywood stars Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart and Danny Kaye, Hunt additionally went to Washington in 1947 to protest the Home Un-American Actions Committee, which was conducting a witch hunt for communists within the movie business.

“I’d made 54 films in my first 16 years in Hollywood,” Hunt stated in 1996. “Within the final 45 years, I’ve made eight. That reveals what a blacklist can do to a profession.”

Hunt focused on the theater, the place the blacklist was not noticed, till she started often getting movie work once more within the late Fifties. She appeared within the touring firms of “The Cocktail Get together,” “The Girl’s Not for Burning” and “The Tunnel of Love,” and on Broadway in “The Satan’s Disciple,” “Legend of Sarah″ and “The Paisley Convertible.”

Marcia Virginia Hunt (she modified the spelling of her first title later) was born in Chicago and grew up in New York Metropolis, daughter of a lawyer-insurance govt and a voice instructor. Slender and classy, with a heat smile and enormous, expressive eyes, Hunt studied drama and labored as a mannequin earlier than making her movie debut.

An early marriage to director Jerry Hopper led to divorce. In 1948 she married movie author Robert Presnell Jr., and so they had one daughter, who died quickly after her untimely delivery. Her husband died in 1986.

Hunt’s first film was 1935′s “The Virginia Choose.” She went on to play demure roles in a sequence of movies for Paramount, together with “The Accusing Finger” and “Come on Leathernecks,” however, as she informed The Related Press in 2020, she was bored with “candy younger issues” and begged for extra substantial work.

Hollywood proved a painful schooling. In “Marsha Hunt’s Candy Adversity,” she remembered virtually getting the a part of Melanie Wilkes in “Gone with the Wind,” even being assured by producer David O. Selznick. Inside days, Olivia de Havilland was introduced because the actor who would play Melanie for the 1939 epic.

“That’s the day I grew up,” Hunt stated within the documentary. “That’s the day I knew I might by no means have my coronary heart damaged once more by this career of appearing.”

She left Paramount for MGM across the time of “Gone with the Wind” and had lead or supporting roles in “These Glamour Ladies,” “Flight Command” and “The Human Comedy” amongst different films.

“MGM was sheer magic,” she recalled in a 2007 Related Press interview. “Once I arrived on the studio for a one-day position, they parked my automobile. I went on the set and located a director’s chair with an indication on it, ‘Miss Hunt.’ One other signal was on my dressing room.

“I stated to myself, ‘Any studio that treats a one-day participant that method, actually is aware of the best way to make photos.’ They received my loyalty.”

Work unraveled rapidly after she overtly embraced liberal causes, reminiscent of becoming a member of the 1947 protest towards congressional hearings on the reputed communist affect in Hollywood.

“I used to be by no means a communist and even within the communist trigger,” she declared in 1996. “I used to be a political harmless defending my business.”

With a few exceptions, reminiscent of producer Stanley Kramer’s 1952 household comedy “The Joyful Time,” she was unseen on the large display for many of the Fifties. She later appeared in lots of TV sequence, together with “My Three Sons,” “Matlock,” “All within the Household” and “Homicide, She Wrote.”

She remained vigorous and stylish in outdated age. In 1993, she put out “The Approach We Wore: Kinds of the Thirties and ’40s and Our World Since Then,” a lavishly illustrated ebook of the fashions throughout her Hollywood heyday.

A lifelong political activist, Hunt had a brush with terror in 1962 when she took half in a discussion board on right-wing extremists and two different members’ houses have been broken by do-it-yourself bombs the exact same night.

“The ashen-faced actress stated her residence most likely escaped the bomb assault solely as a result of the terrorists have been unable to search out out the place she lived,” the Los Angeles Instances reported. Police have been despatched to protect her residence.

Extra not too long ago, she helped create a refuge for the homeless in Los Angeles’ Sherman Oaks neighborhood, the place she lived and was feted with the title honorary mayor.

Trying again on her activist years, Hunt remarked in 1996: “I by no means craved an identification as a determine of controversy. However having weathered it and located different pursuits within the meantime, I can look again with some philosophy.”

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