Marsha Hunt, who appeared in additional than 50 films between 1935 and 1949 and appeared effectively on her approach to stardom till her profession was broken by the Hollywood blacklist, and who, for the remainder of her profession, was as a lot an activist as she was an actress, died on Wednesday at her house in Los Angeles. She was 104.
Her demise was introduced by Roger C. Memos, the director of the 2015 documentary “Marsha Hunt’s Candy Adversity.”
Early in her profession, Ms. Hunt was one of many busiest and most versatile actresses in Hollywood, enjoying components massive and small in a wide range of films, together with romances, interval items and the form of darkish, fashionable crime dramas that got here to be generally known as movie noir. She starred in “Pleasure and Prejudice” alongside Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier in 1940, and in “The Human Comedy” with Mickey Rooney in 1943. In later years, she was a well-known face on tv, enjoying character roles on “Matlock,” “Homicide, She Wrote,” “Star Trek: The Subsequent Technology” and different reveals.
However in between, her profession hit a roadblock: the Pink Scare.
Ms. Hunt’s issues started in October 1947, when she traveled to Washington together with cinematic luminaries like John Huston, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as a part of a gaggle known as the Committee for the First Modification. Their mission was to look at and protest the actions of the Home Un-American Actions Committee, which was investigating what it stated was Communist infiltration of the movie business.
A lot of those that made that journey subsequently denounced it, calling it ill-advised, however Ms. Hunt didn’t. And though she was by no means a member of the Communist Celebration — her solely obvious misdeed, moreover going to Washington, was signing petitions to help causes associated to civil liberties — producers started eyeing her with suspicion.
Her standing in Hollywood was already precarious when “Pink Channels,” an influential pamphlet containing the names of individuals within the leisure business stated to be Communists or Communist sympathizers, was revealed in 1950. Among the many folks named had been Orson Welles, Pete Seeger, Leonard Bernstein and Marsha Hunt.
By then, she had received reward for her portrayal of Viola in a stay telecast of “Twelfth Evening” in 1949. On the time, Jack Gould of The New York Instances known as her “an actress of placing and mellow magnificence who additionally was at house with the verse and couplets of Shakespeare.” Her star flip in a 1950 revival of George Bernard Shaw’s “Satan’s Disciple,” the second of her six appearances on Broadway, had been the topic of a canopy article in Life journal. But, the film affords all however stopped.
In 1955, with little work to maintain her at house, Ms. Hunt and her husband, the screenwriter Robert Presnell Jr., took a yearlong journey around the globe. Because of her travels, she instructed the web site The Globalist in 2008, she “fell in love with the planet.”
She turned an lively supporter of the United Nations, delivering lectures on behalf of the World Well being Group and different U.N. companies. She wrote and produced “A Name From the Stars,” a 1960 tv documentary concerning the plight of refugees.
She additionally addressed points nearer to house. In her capability as honorary mayor of the Sherman Oaks space of Los Angeles, a submit she held from 1983 to 2001, she labored to extend consciousness of homelessness in Southern California and arranged a coalition of honorary mayors that raised cash to construct shelters.
Marcia Virginia Hunt (she later modified the spelling of her first title) was born in Chicago on Oct. 17, 1917, to Earl Hunt, a lawyer, and Minabel (Morris) Hunt, a vocal coach. The household quickly moved to New York Metropolis, the place Ms. Hunt attended P.S. 9 and the Horace Mann Faculty for Ladies in Manhattan.
A expertise scout who noticed her in a faculty play in 1935 supplied her a display check; nothing got here of the provide, however that summer season she visited her uncle in Hollywood and ended up being pursued by a number of studios. She signed with Paramount and made her display debut that 12 months in a shortly forgotten movie known as “The Virginia Decide.”
She was quickly being solid in small roles in a dizzying array of movies. In “Straightforward Residing” (1937), starring Jean Arthur, she had an unbilled however essential half as a lady who has a coat fall on her head within the final scene. Greater roles quickly adopted, particularly after she joined Hollywood’s largest and most prestigious studio, MGM, in 1939.
In 1943, she was the topic of a profile in The New York Herald Tribune that predicted a brilliant future. “She’s a quiet, well-bred, handsome quantity with the hid fireplace of a banked furnace,” the profile stated. “She’s been in Hollywood for seven years, made 34 footage. However, starting now, you can begin counting the times earlier than she is among the high film names.”
It by no means occurred. Within the aftermath of the blacklist, nonetheless, she started working incessantly on tv, showing on “The Twilight Zone,” “Gunsmoke,” “Ben Casey” and different reveals. She remained lively on the small display till the late Eighties.
Her solely notable film in these years was “Johnny Received His Gun” (1971), an antiwar movie written and directed by Dalton Trumbo, additionally a sufferer of the Hollywood blacklist, during which she performed a wounded soldier’s mom.
Ms. Hunt’s marriage to Jerry Hopper, a junior govt at Paramount, resulted in divorce in 1945. The next 12 months, she married Mr. Presnell. Their marriage lasted till his demise in 1986. She is survived by a number of nieces and nephews.
Ms. Hunt’s dedication to political and social causes didn’t diminish with age.
In a 2021 interview with Fox Information, she dismissed the notion that celebrities ought to keep away from talking out on political points (“Nonsense — we’re all residents of the world”) and defined what she thought-about to be the important message of the documentary:
“When injustice happens, go on together with your convictions. Giving in and being silent is what they need you to do.”
Peter Keepnews contributed reporting.