Marsha Hunt, one of the last surviving actors from Hollywood’s so-called Golden Age of the 1930s and 1940s who worked with performers ranging from Laurence Olivier to Andy Griffith in a career disrupted for a time by the McCarthy-era blacklist, has died. She was 104.
Hunt, who appeared in more than 100 movies and TV shows, died Wednesday at her home in Sherman Oaks, California, said Roger Memos, the writer-director of the 2015 documentary Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity.
A Chicago native, she arrived in Hollywood in 1935 and over the next 15 years appeared in dozens of films, from the Preston Sturges comedy Easy Living to the adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that starred Olivier and Greer Garson.
She was well under 40 when MGM named her “Hollywood’s Youngest Character Actress.” And by the early 1950s, she was enough of a star to appear on the cover of Life magazine and seem set to thrive in the new medium of television when suddenly “the work dried up,” she recalled in 1996.
The reason, she learned from her agent, was that the communist-hunting Red Channels publication had revealed that she attended a peace conference in Stockholm and other supposedly suspicious gatherings.
“I’d made 54 movies in my first 16 years in Hollywood,” Hunt said in 1996. “In the last 45 years, I’ve made eight. That shows what a blacklist can do to a career.”
“I was never a communist or even interested in the communist cause,” she declared. “I was a political innocent defending my industry.”
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