Blacklisted actress, ‘Raw Deal’ star was 104 – The Hollywood Reporter

Marsha Hunt, the bright-eyed star who has appeared in films like These charming girlsAnd the Pride and prejudice And the Failed deal Before her career collapsed due to the Communist witch hunt that hit Hollywood, she died. She was 104 years old.

Died of natural causes Tuesday evening at her home in Sherman Oaks, where she had lived since 1946, Roger C. Mimos – documentary writer and director Marsha Hunt’s sweet ordeal – Tell The Hollywood Reporter.

Hunt also appeared opposite Mickey Rooney in Best Picture for an Oscar nominee human comedy (1943) during a period when she was known as “Hollywood’s Youngest Actress”.

The Chicago-born former model who signed with Paramount Pictures at the age of 17 made her first big hit as a co-suicide opposite Lana Turner on MGM’s These charming girls (1939).

He played Walter Brennan’s girlfriend in Invite Joe and Ethel Torp on the President (1939), Hunt ranges in age from 16 to 65 on screen. I photographed Sister Mary Bennett Pride and prejudice (1940), and in Anthony Mann’s classic black film Failed deal (1948), was The Good Girl opposite Claire Trevor and Dennis O’Keefe.

Years later, in Johnny got his gun (1971) – penned by blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo – Hunt played the mother of the amputee character Timothy Bottoms.

Although she did not achieve the stardom that some of her co-stars had, Hunt was proud of her career, especially early on. “Before I turned 30, I played four aging roles, and was the youngest actress in Hollywood…no two roles were alike,” Tell The site of Mrs. In the Biz in 2015.

In 1947, Hunt and her second husband, screenwriter Robert Presnell Jr., joined the First Amendment Committee, which question The legitimacy of the House Un-American Activities Committee that sought to drive the Communists out of the entertainment industry.

The panel, which also included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, John Huston and other Hollywood liberals, chartered a plane to Washington to attend HUAC hearings and support the 19 creators who were under scrutiny.

However, Bogart and others were quick to back down, saying that the Communists had deceived them and that their trip to Washington had been ill-advised. While it helped save their careers, Hunt did not repent. In June 1950, it was listed in red channelsthe right-wing pamphlet that pointed the finger at dozens of actors, directors, screenwriters and others for being sympathetic to “subversive” causes.

“You know, I was never interested in communism,” she said He said In a 2004 interview. “I was very concerned about my industry, my country and my government. But I was shocked by my government’s behavior and its mistreatment of my industry. And so I spoke out and protested like everyone else on that trip. But then I was told, once I was blacklisted, you see, I was An outright liberal, and that was bad. I was told that it wasn’t really about communism – that was the thing that scared everyone – it was about control and power.

“The way you control it is to get everyone to agree to whatever is appropriate at the time, whatever is acceptable. Don’t question anything, don’t speak out, don’t have your own ideas, don’t talk about it, never be eloquent, and if You were one of those things, you’re controversial. And that’s as bad, and maybe worse, than being a communist. Which was still perfectly legal, you know: The Communist Party was still legal in America, running candidates for public office. But you lost your career, your good name. , and your savings, and maybe your marriage, and your friends, if you’re a communist. It was awful, just awful.”

She told her story in Marsha Hunt’s sweet ordealreleased in 2015.

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

Hunt made a career of a model when her high school yearbook photographer used her photo as an advertising sample. Signed by the Powers Agency, she became the coveted “Powers Girl” and learned how to stand and act in front of the lens.

Friends with paparazzi-turned publicists Robert and Sarah Mack, Hunt moved to Hollywood at 17 and signed with Paramount when her agent, Zippo Marks, earned $250 a week and landed the starring role in her first movie, Virginia Judge (1935). She appeared as a love interest and thriller in many films – John Wayne played her role in the romance born in the west (1937) – But the studio refused to renew her contract in 1938.

Landed in MGM in Hardee’s Ride Hi (1939) and continued to appear in the studio in The Marie Dugan Trial (1941) as a Brooklyn choir girl; in Kid killer glove (1942), director Fred Zinman’s first American film; In the drama of World War II cry “ruin” (1943); And as the top title character in the romantic comedy Jules Dassin A letter to Evie (1946).

A survey of models put her in the “Top 10 Stars of Tomorrow”—others on the list include Rudy McDowell, Gloria DeHavin, Sidney Greenstreet, John Allison and Barry Fitzgerald—and when she wasn’t acting, she worked as a hostess at the famous Hollywood canteen for American soldiers.

In 1948, Hunt made her Hollywood debut joy to the worlddirected by Jules Dassin; Two years later, she returned to Broadway in George Bernard Shaw Devil’s disciple sculpt a cover life magazine.

after, after evil disciple Closed, Hunt left for Europe, but when she returned, red channels It was published, and her career – she had made over 50 films by then – would never be the same.

I went to guest star in shows like this Ford TV TheaterAnd the climax! And the Alfred Hitchcock presentsHe was a regular in the short-lived 1959 series PICK EVIL GIRL and later appeared gun smokeAnd the Twilight ZoneAnd the Ben CaseyAnd the my three sonsAnd the IronsideAnd the She wrote the murder And the Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Marsha Hunt with Franchot Tone (left) and Jane Kelly, her co-stars in the 1943 movie “Pilot #5.”

Courtesy Everett Group

Hunt was a member of the SAG Board of Directors and served on several progressive committees. One actress consultant Olivia de Havilland In its groundbreaking legal case against the studio system and Warner Bros. and other petitions were made for studios to hire minority actors outside of stereotypical roles.

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

In April 2015, she was named the inaugural recipient of the Marsha Hunt Prize for Humanity, created by Kat Kramer, the daughter of famed liberal director and producer Stanley Kramer.

Kat Kramer noted that Hunt was “one of the first major actresses in Hollywood to dedicate her life to causes,” paving the way for Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Patricia Arquette, Sharon Stone, George Clooney, 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 its splendor in the 1993 book The Way We Wear: The Styles of the 30’s, 40’s and Our World Since ThenWhich shows pictures of her in many of her era clothes.

Hunt moved to Sherman Oaks in 1946 and served as honorary mayor for more than two decades. She and Presnel were married for 40 years until his death in 1986 at the age of 71. They had no children.

She is survived by her nephew, actor and director Alan Hunt, and her nieces and nephews. Donations can be made in her memory to LA Family Housing.

In 2008, Hunt starred in a 22-minute film Grand InquisitorWritten and directed by Eddie Mueller.

“Working with her has been the most rewarding collaboration of my life. I think it always will be,” TCM host Noir Alley said afterwards. Failed deal And the Grand Inquisitor It was played back-to-back on the cable channel last month. “She is simply the most extraordinary human being I have ever known.”

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