Marsha Hunt, Golden Age Hollywood Actress, Dies at 104

by Joe Rutland

Actress Marsha Hunt, who made her career during Hollywood’s Golden Age but ran into some serious trouble, has died at 104. Hunt would see her once-hopeful career in the worlds of Broadway, film, and radio suffer. She protested against the House Un-American Activities Committee after she was blacklisted. Deadline reported caregivers and family members confirmed her death from natural causes on September 7.

Hunt’s career would date back to 1935 as she would appear in more than 60 films for Paramount, MGM, and Republic. Her work also would include over 30 staged productions. Six of those would end up on Broadway. Meanwhile, during the Golden Age of television, she starred as Viola in the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night. It actually would be the first one to be aired coast-to-coast on TV.

Also, she would host and even guest star on the now-classic TV show Your Show Of Shows. That comedy-variety show would feature the likes of Sid Caesar, Carl Reiner, and Imogene Coca in different roles. Hunt also had numerous guest appearances in her career, too. Yet Hunt would have her name appear in an anti-communist pamphlet titled Red Channels.

Marsha Hunt Found Her Name In ‘Red Channels’

It would be very important for TV and film studios when it was published. The publication would accuse Hunt of being a member of the Committee for the First Amendment. That also included actors Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. When the group would go to Washington, D.C., back in 1947, they went to protest the imprisonment of 10 writers, directors, and producers for the charge of contempt of Congress. All 10 would refuse to tell the House Un-American Activities Committee their political allegiances and affiliations. Hunt would never get charged with a crime.

Twice, according to The Washington Post, Hunt signed anti-communist loyalty oaths. This was done so she could get work in film and TV areas. Hunt, though, would not take an ad out in trade papers at the time. What did she do as work dried up? Hunt would become a force in the world of activism. Back in 2015, a documentary about her life was released. It was titled Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity: A Life of Acting and Activism.

She is survived by nieces and nephews. Hunt also was a former member of the Screen Actors Guild’s board of directors. She joined the guild back in 1938 and would receive the SAG-AFTRA’s Founders Award back in 2018. The guild said, in a statement, that Hunt “was not only a phenomenal actor and writer, she was also a devoted philanthropist who fought for what was right. She was passionate beyond compare and her work both on and off screen will stand the test of time.”