Blacklisted Actress Marsha Hunt Dies at 104

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tags: Red Scare, Hollywood, McCarthyism, anticommunism, Blacklist

Marsha Hunt, the bright-eyed starlet who stood out in such films as These Glamour GirlsPride and Prejudice and Raw Deal before her career came unraveled by the communist witch hunt that hit Hollywood, has died. She was 104.

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

Hunt also appeared opposite Mickey Rooney in the best picture Oscar nominee 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 as a suicidal co-ed opposite 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 film noir classic Raw Deal (1948), she 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 Timothy Bottoms’ quadruple-amputee character.

Though she never achieved the stardom of some of her co-stars, Hunt was proud of her career, especially 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 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 legality of the House Un-American Activities Committee that was seeking to flush 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 in on the HUAC hearings and support 19 creatives who had been under scrutiny.

However, Bogart and others quickly backpedaled, saying they were duped by communists and their trip to Washington was ill-advised. While that helped save their careers, Hunt did not repent. In June 1950, she was listed in Red Channels, the right-wing pamphlet that fingered scores of actors, directors, screenwriters and others for being sympathetic to “subversive” causes.

Read entire article at Hollywood Reporter