Marsha Hunt: Celebrating 100th Birthday And Wholeheartedly Making The World A Better Place
December 12, 2017 12:42 By Mambee
Once hugely popular yet still beloved 1940's actress Marsha Hunt has celebrated her 100th birthday. As the old lady enjoys her golden years, it is for us to remember what made her life and career shine so brightly.
Early life and career
The actress was born as Marcia Virginia Hunt on the 17th of October, 1917. Marsha was raised in a Christian family in Chicago and has personally spoken about her upbringing many times. She has only the kindest words for her childhood and her parents. She said:
I lucked into the most fortuitous, warm, constructive kind of family context imaginable. My father was a top scholar, a Phi Beta Kappa. My mother was a voice coach and accompanist of singers in the concert and opera fields. We didn't have the term "liberated woman", but my mother certainly was... They were brought up, both, in the state of Indiana, which is now called the Bible Belt. They were wholesome, they neither smoked nor drank, and they never used the Lord's name in vain. I never heard a four-letter word. It didn't exist in my wholesome family setting.
As a young girl, she and her family moved to New York. This is where she graduated from Horace Mann High School for Girls in 1934. She desperately wanted to study drama, but after finding no suitable colleges she turned to modeling.
Although very successful in modeling, Hunt made her career as an actress signing for Paramount Pictures in 1935. Her first movie, 'The Virginia Judge', was the type of break she needed.
Hunt starred in 12 Paramount movies including a movie with an upcoming star John Wayne, called 'Born to the West'. After working for three years at Paramount, Marsha's contract was terminated.
She endured a bit of a dry spell until she was rediscovered by MGM (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's film studio). Her years at MGM are widely recognized as her best ones. Marsha played in spectacular, successful movies which brought her fame and praise from critics. She was Mary Benet in 'Pride and Prejudice' and the star in movies such as war drama 'Pilot No. 5' and the box-office hit 'The Valley of Decision'.
Woman with a progressive position ends up blacklisted.
The late 1940s and 1950s were some strange and perilous times in USA history. With the Cold War heating up to a boiling point, tensions inside the country were at an all-time high. Namely, House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) harassed the film industry under the pretense of fighting against communism.
Marsha Hunt was one of the actors that stood up to HUAC and the unsubstantiated persecution of A-list artists. As it is always when politics and art meet, it is the latter that suffers most of the consequences. With the rest of the 'rebelling' actors, Marsha was blacklisted by Hollywood and was denied any role in movies.
Even though her career suffered greatly because of the blacklist, Marsha continued to be an advocate for social justice. In the years to come, she was a loud support for same-sex marriage and a firm fighter against pollution and third-world poverty.
It is difficult to fully appreciate the achievements Marsha Hunt earned as an actress. Firstly, she played a long time ago and secondly, her career was derailed because of her reluctance to 'go with the flow'. However, she was, in fact, honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Furthermore, she was nominated as one of the 25 greatest female screen legends to have debuted before 1950.
Three of Marsha's films were awarded an Academy Award but it is not her film career that should be celebrated. It is her relentless spirit and the will to fight for what is right that should be under the spotlight. Her example is something we should treasure and make Marsha Hunt an example for all of the young girls today.