Blacklisted Actress, ‘Raw Deal’ Star Was 104 – The Hollywood Reporter


Marsha Hunt, the bright-eyed starlet who stood out in such movies as These Glamour Girls, Pride and Prejudice and Raw Deal earlier than her profession got here unraveled by the communist witch hunt that hit Hollywood, has died. She was 104.

She died Wednesday of pure causes at her Sherman Oaks house, the place she had lived since 1946, Roger C. Memos — writer-director of the documentary Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity — instructed The Hollywood Reporter.

Hunt additionally appeared reverse Mickey Rooney in one of the best image Oscar nominee The Human Comedy (1943) throughout a interval through which she was referred to as “Hollywood’s Youngest Character Actress.”

A former mannequin who signed with Paramount Pictures at age 17, the Chicago native made her first huge splash as a suicidal co-ed reverse Lana Turner in MGM’s These Glamour Girls (1939).

Playing Walter Brennan’s sweetheart in Joe and Ethel Turp Call on the President (1939), Hunt aged from age 16 to 65 onscreen. She portrayed the dowdy sister Mary Bennet in Pride and Prejudice (1940), and in Anthony Mann’s movie noir traditional Raw Deal (1948), she was the nice woman reverse Claire Trevor and Dennis O’Keefe.

Years later, in Johnny Got His Gun (1971) — penned by blacklisted author Dalton Trumbo — Hunt performed the mom of Timothy Bottoms’ quadruple-amputee character.

Though she by no means achieved the stardom of a few of her co-stars, Hunt was happy with her profession, particularly early on. “Before I was 30, I had played four aging roles, and I was Hollywood’s youngest character actress … no two roles alike,” she instructed the web site Ms. within 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 legality of the House Un-American Activities Committee that was looking for to flush communists out of the leisure business.

The committee, which additionally included Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kaye, John Huston and different Hollywood liberals, chartered a airplane to Washington to take a seat in on the HUAC hearings and help 19 creatives who had been below scrutiny.

However, Bogart and others rapidly backpedaled, saying they had been duped by communists and their journey to Washington was ill-advised. While that helped save their careers, Hunt didn’t repent. In June 1950, she was listed in Red Channels, the right-wing pamphlet that fingered scores of actors, administrators, screenwriters and others for being sympathetic to “subversive” causes.

“You know, I was never interested in communism,” she stated in a 2004 interview. “I used to be very a lot enthusiastic about my business, my nation and my authorities. But I used to be shocked on the conduct of my authorities and its mistreatment of my business. And so I spoke out and protested like everybody else on that flight. But then I used to be instructed, as soon as I used to be blacklisted, you see, I used to be an articulate liberal, and that was unhealthy. I used to be instructed that in reality it wasn’t actually about communism — that was the factor that frightened all people — it was about management and about energy.

“The way you get control is to get everyone to agree with whatever is proper at the time, whatever is accepted. Don’t question anything, don’t speak out, don’t have your own ideas, don’t be articulate about it, don’t ever be eloquent, and if you ever be one of those things, you’re controversial. And that’s just as bad, maybe worse, than being a communist. Which was still quite legal to be, 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, probably your marriage, your friends, if you had been a communist. It was appalling, just appalling.”

Her story was instructed in Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity, launched in 2015.

She was born Marcia Virginia Hunt in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1917. Her father, Earl, was an insurance coverage government and her mom, Minabel, a vocal coach. She and her household moved to New York City, and he or she graduated from the Horace Mann School for Girls at age 16.

Hunt fell right into a profession as a mannequin when her highschool yearbook photographer used her picture as an promoting pattern. She was signed by the Powers Agency, turning into a sought-after “Powers Girl” and studying how one can pose and behave in entrance of a lens.

Friends with photographers-turned-publicists Robert and Sarah Mack, Hunt moved to Hollywood at 17, signed with Paramount when her agent, Zeppo Marx, received her $250 per week and landed the feminine lead in her first film, The Virginia Judge (1935). She appeared as an ingenue and love curiosity in a number of movies — John Wayne romanced her in Born to the West (1937) — however the studio declined to resume her contract in 1938.

She landed at MGM in The Hardys Ride High (1939) and went on to seem for the studio in The Trial of Mary Dugan (1941) as a Brooklyn refrain woman; in Kid Glove Killer (1942), director Fred Zinnemann’s first U.S. function; within the World War II drama Cry ‘Havoc’ (1943); and because the top-billed title character within the Jules Dassin romantic comedy A Letter for Evie (1946).

An exhibitors ballot had positioned her among the many “Top 10 Stars of Tomorrow” — others on the listing included Roddy McDowall, Gloria DeHaven, Sidney Greenstreet, June Allyson and Barry Fitzgerald — and when she wasn’t performing, she was serving as a hostess on the famed Hollywood Canteen for American servicemen.

In 1948, Hunt made her stage debut within the Hollywood-set Joy to the World, directed by Jules Dassin; two years later, she was again on Broadway in George Bernard Shaw’s The Devil’s Disciple and graced the duvet of Life journal.

After Devil’s Disciple closed, Hunt departed for Europe, however when she returned, Red Channels had been revealed, and her profession — she had made greater than 50 movies by then — would by no means be the identical.

She went on to guest-star on such exhibits as The Ford Television (*104*), Climax! and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, was a daily on the short-lived 1959 collection Peck’s Bad Girl and later appeared on Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, Ben Casey, My Three Sons, Ironside, Murder, She Wrote and Star Trek: The Next Generation.

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

Courtesy Everett Collection

Hunt was a member of the SAG board and labored on varied progressive committees; one endorsed actress Olivia de Havilland in her groundbreaking authorized case towards the studio system and Warner Bros., and one other petitioned studios to rent minority actors exterior of stereotyped roles.

In 1955, a visit all over the world opened her eyes to the plight of Third World nations, and he or she threw herself into humanitarian efforts, making appearances on behalf of the United Nations and turning into what she referred to as a “planet patriot.”

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

Hunt was “one of the first major actresses in Hollywood to dedicate her life to causes,” Kat Kramer famous, “and she paved 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 will be seen in all her glamour within the 1993 e-book The Way We Wore: Styles of the Nineteen Thirties and ’40s and Our World Since Then, which options photographs of her in lots of her personal garments from the period.

Hunt moved to Sherman Oaks in 1946 and served as its honorary mayor for greater than 20 years. She and Presnell had been married for 40 years till his dying in 1986 at age 71. They had no kids.

She is survived by a nephew, actor-director Allan Hunt, and different nieces and nephews. Donations in her reminiscence could also be made to L.A. Family Housing.

In 2008, Hunt starred within the 22-minute movie The Grand Inquisitor, written and directed by Eddie Muller.

“To work with her was the most rewarding collaboration of my life. I suspect it always will be,” the host of TCM’s Noir Alley stated after Raw Deal and The Grand Inquisitor performed back-to-back on the cable channel final month. “She is simply the most exceptional human being I’ve ever known.”

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