Actress from Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ turned activist, Marsha Hunt, dies aged 104 in California

Actress from Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ turned activist, Marsha Hunt, dies aged 104 in California

Actress from Hollywood’s ‘Golden Age’ turned activist, Marsha Hunt, dies aged 104 in California

Marsha Hunt, one of many final surviving actors from Hollywood’s so-called Golden Age of the Thirties and Nineteen Forties, has died. She was 104.

Hunt, who appeared in additional than 100 motion pictures and TV exhibits, died on Wednesday at her dwelling in California, introduced Roger Memos, the writer-director of a 2015 documentary about her life.

The actor had a busy movie profession, throughout which she labored with performers starting from Laurence Olivier to Andy Griffith, earlier than it was disrupted by a McCarthy-era blacklist.

A promising profession which all of a sudden ‘dried up’

Born in 1917 in Chicago, Hunt arrived in Hollywood in 1935 and over the following 15 years appeared in dozens of movies, from the Preston Sturges comedy Simple Dwelling to the difference of Jane Austen’s Pleasure and Prejudice that starred Olivier and Greer Garson.

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.

Marsha Hunt pictured within the 1937 movie Born to the West with John Wayne.(Paramount Footage)

Within the 2015 documentary 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 Selznick.

Inside days, Olivia de Havilland was introduced because the actor who would play Melanie for the 1939 epic.

“That is the day I grew up,” Hunt mentioned within the documentary.

“That is the day I knew I may 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 Women, Flight Command and The Human Comedy amongst different motion pictures.

“MGM was sheer magic,” she recalled in a 2007 Related Press interview.

A black and white LIFE Magazine cover dated March 6, 1950, featuring Marsha Hunt wearing a costume.
Marsha Hunt appeared on the duvet of LIFE Journal in March 1950.(Provided)

She was properly below 40 when MGM named her “Hollywood’s Youngest Character Actress”.

And by the early Fifties, she was sufficient of a star to look on the duvet of Life journal and appeared set to thrive within the new medium of tv.

However simply as her profession was thriving, all of a sudden, “the work dried up”, she recalled in 1996.

Work unravelled after embracing liberal causes

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.

“I would made 54 motion pictures in my first 16 years in Hollywood,” Hunt mentioned in 1996.

“Within the final 45 years, I’ve made eight. That exhibits what a blacklist can do to a profession.”

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 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.”

Within the early Fifties, shortly after the Chilly Battle started, lots of of leisure business employees had been blacklisted in Hollywood on suspicion of being communists.

Hunt targeting the theatre, 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.

With a few exceptions, similar to producer Stanley Kramer’s 1952 household comedy The Comfortable Time, she was unseen on the massive display screen 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.

Elegant and lively into outdated age

Hunt’s early marriage to director Jerry Hopper resulted in divorce. In 1948 she married movie author Robert Presnell Jr, they usually had one daughter, who died quickly after her untimely beginning. They remained married till his dying in 1986.

Hunt remained vigorous and chic in outdated age. In 1993, she put out The Method We Wore: Kinds of the Thirties and ’40s and Our World Since Then, a lavishly illustrated guide of the fashions throughout her Hollywood heyday.

Marsha Hunt pictured in a satin blue jacket, with formal hair and make-up, at an event in her 90s.
Marsha Hunt, pictured in 2013, was concerned in a number of causes all through her life.(AP: Jordan Strauss/Invision, File picture)

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 individuals’ properties had been broken by selfmade bombs the exact same night.

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

Extra just lately, she helped create a refuge for the homeless in Los Angeles’ Sherman Oaks neighbourhood, the place she lived and was feted with the title of honorary mayor.

Trying again on her activist years, Hunt remarked in 1996: “I by no means craved an id 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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