Marsha Hunt, an actress and activist who appeared in such classic films as “Pride and Prejudice” and “The Human Comedy,” but was blacklisted in the 1950s, has died. She was 104 years old.
Hunt, who had lived in her Sherman Oaks home since 1946, was one of the last survivors of Hollywood’s so-called “Golden Era” of the 1930s and 1940s.
Producer-driector Roger C. Memos told The Hollywood Reporter Hunt died Wednesday of natural causes.
The Chicago native’s 100-plus acting credits spanned nearly 80 years and included the noted 1948 film noir “Raw Deal” and dozens of TV appearances ranging from “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” to “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”
During the Hollywood studio era, she was under contract at Paramount and later MGM studios.
Hunt was the subject of a 2015 documentary, “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity,” which detailed how her questions about the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947 — a precursor to the hearings chaired by Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy in the 1950s — got her blacklisted.
As a member of Hollywood’s Committee for the First Amendment, Hunt joined other luminaries, including Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who chartered a plane to Washington to sit in on the committee hearings and support 19 colleagues who were being questioned about possible ties to communism.
But while some in the group later recanted their support, Hunt did not and in June 1950, found her name listed in a publication called Red Channels, which named numerous actors, directors, screenwriters and others for being sympathetic to “subversive” causes.
“You know, I was never interested in communism,” she told the online journal Film Talk in 2004. “I was very much interested in my industry, my country and my government. But I was shocked at the behavior of my government and its mistreatment of my industry. And so I spoke out and protested like everyone else on that flight.
“But then I was told, once I was blacklisted, you see, I was an articulate liberal, and that was bad. I was told that in fact it wasn’t really about communism — that was the thing that frightened everybody — it was about control and about power.”
Being blacklisted curtailed her career, but Hunt continued acting until 2008.
In later years she also focused on humanitarian causes including working with the United Nations on worldwide hunger issues, helping to raise money for Rose Cottage, a daycare shelter for homeless children in Los Angeles and serving on the advisory board of the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center.