Marsha Hunt (actress)

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For the African American singer and novelist, see Marsha Hunt (singer and novelist).
Marsha Hunt
Marsha Hunt in Cry Havoc trailer.jpg
Marsha Hunt in trailer for Cry "Havoc"
Born Marcia Virginia Hunt
(1917-10-17) October 17, 1917 (age 97)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1935–2008
Spouse(s) Jerry Hopper (1938-1945)
Robert Presnell Jr. (1946-1986) (his death) (1 child)

Marsha Virginia Hunt (born October 17, 1917) is a retired American film, theater, and television actress who was blacklisted by Hollywood movie studio executives in the 1950s.


Hunt with John Wayne in Born to the West (1937)

Born as Marcia Virginia Hunt, on October 17, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois, who later shortened her named to Marsha, she was also the younger of two girls born to Earl Hunt, who worked as a lawyer, and later, a Social Security Administrator. Minabel Hunt, her mother, worked as a vocal teacher and organist. Her family relocated to New York City when she was young. Hunt began acting early, performing in school plays and church functions. She also attended the Theodore Irving School of Dramatics during her high school years. She was a singer and a model before Paramount Pictures signed her to a contract in 1934. At 18, she made her film debut in The Virginia Judge. In 1937, she starred alongside John Wayne in the western Born to the West.

Hunt later had a supporting role as Mary Bennet in MGM's version of Pride and Prejudice and the love interest of Franchot Tone's character in the war drama Pilot No. 5.

During the late 1930s and into the 1940s, Hunt signed a number of petitions promoting liberal ideals. She was also a member of the Committee for the First Amendment. Because of this association, her name appeared in the pamphlet Red Channels. Although she and her husband, Robert Presnell, were never called before the House Un-American Activities Commission (HUAC), like Charlie Chaplin, their names were put on the blacklist, and they found it extremely difficult to find work. On October 27, 1947, she flew with a group of about 30 actors, directors, writers, and filmmakers (including John Huston, Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Danny Kaye), to Washington D.C. to protest the actions of Congress. When she returned to Hollywood three days later, things had changed. She was asked to denounce her activities if she wanted to find more work—but she refused. She did keep working until the publication of Red Channels, but afterwards it became very hard.

She had worked steadily from 1935 until 1949, appearing in 52 films. In 1944 she polled seventh in a list by exhibitors of "Stars of Tomorrow".[1] After being blacklisted, she appeared in only three films in the next eight years. In 1957, she started getting more work, appearing in six films during the next three years, at which time she semi-retired in 1960. Since then she has appeared only in small roles in five films and numerous television shows, including an episode of the ABC medical drama Breaking Point.

In 1971, she would appear in a movie written by fellow blacklist member, Dalton Trumbo (whom Kirk Douglas had gotten back on the screen with Spartacus), in the movie Johnny Got His Gun, playing the mother of the title character played by Timothy Bottoms.

Since 1980, she has been the honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks, California. Hunt is still very liberal, and is very concerned with such issues as global pollution, worldwide poverty, peace in third world nations, and population growth.

On February 8, 1988, she appeared in Star Trek: The Next Generation, in the episode "Too Short a Season" as Anne Jameson, wife of an admiral who took an age reversing drug.

In 1993, her book The Way We Wore: Styles of the 1930s and '40s and Our World Since Then was published by Fallbrook Publishing.

A photo of Marsha Hunt in 2013
Hunt in 2013

Hunt played Elizabeth Lyons in a 2005 movie, Chloe's Prayer. She produced the CD Tony London: Songs From The Heart with the Page Cavanaugh Trio that includes two of the fifty songs that Hunt has composed.

As of 2007, Marsha Hunt has served for many years and continues to serve on the Advisory Board of Directors for the San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health Center, a large non-profit in the San Fernando Valley where she continues to advocate for adults and children affected by homelessness and mental illness.

In 2008, Hunt appeared in a short film noir, The Grand Inquisitor, as Hazel Reedy, the could-be widow of one of America's most infamous unapprehended serial killers. The film premiered at the 6th annual Noir City Film Festival in San Francisco.

In 2014, Hunt debuted a clip of a song she wrote 40 years earlier titled "Here's to All Who Love" about love and same-sex marriage. Sung by Glee star Bill A. Jones the clip immediately went viral. It will be featured in Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity, an upcoming documentary about her life.[2]

Personal life[edit]

Hunt is Methodist.[3] She married Jerry Hopper in 1938, which marriage ended in divorce in 1945. Marsha Hunt and screenwriter and radio director Robert Presnell Jr. married in 1946 and remained together until his death in 1986 at 71.[4]

Partial filmography[edit]


Meet John Doe (1941)---bert's wife

  • McGilligan, Patrick and Paul Buhle (1997). Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist (Glenn Lovell Q&A with Hunt). St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-17046-7. 

External links[edit]