Marsha Hunt, Blacklisted Actress Known for Activism, Dies at 104

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Marsha Hunt, an actress most known for her roles in films like “Pride and Prejudice” and “Raw Deal,” died from natural causes at the age of 104 on September 7. She died in her Sherman Oaks home in Los Angeles that she had lived in since 1946.

Hunt starred in more than 60 films for Paramount, MGM, Republic and other studios and appeared in more than 30 stage productions.

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Her caregivers, her nephew, actor-director Allan Hunt and Elizabeth Lauritsen, her devoted friend and executive manager were with her in her home.

Filmmaker and documentarian Roger C. Memos announced Hunt’s death, having directed a documentary about the late actress in 2015 called “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity.” Outside of her film roles, which she appeared in more than 50 of them in a 14-year period between 1935 and 1949, her career had been greatly defined by the blacklisting she faced from Hollywood executives for protesting the House Un-American Activities Committee.

In 1947, the HUAC was actively investigating communist infiltration within the film industry, and Hunt along with other prominent film figures like John Huston, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall established a group called the Committee for the First Amendment, which sought to protest the HUAC’s actions.

Hunt, although she was never a member of the Communist Party, helped sign petitions to support causes relating to civil liberties, and entertainment industry producers started the blacklisting process of keeping her out of Hollywood. Her name was included in an influential Hollywood pamphlet called “Red Channels,” which contained names of entertainment figures who were suspected to be communists or communist sympathizers.

Although she was essentially shut out of Hollywood following those events, she leaned harder into her activism efforts in her later years, supporting the United Nations and delivering lectures for the World Health Organization. One of her later television efforts included a documentary that she wrote and produced in 1960 called “A Call From the Stars,” which was about the plight of refugees.

Hunt’s later television roles included appearances on “The Twilight Zone” and “Gunsmoke.” Although she was blacklisted from the entertainment industry, Memos chronicled in his 2015 documentary just how much more important activism was to Hunt’s life than an illustrious acting career could ever be.

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