Hunt, Marsha: Blacklisted Actor

Born October 17, 1917, Marsha Hunt attended the Theodore Irving School of Drama during high school. She was a singer and a model before Paramount signed her to a contract in 1934. At 18 years of age, she made her film debut in The Virginia Judge. In 1937, she co-starred with John Wayne in Born to the West.

In 1944 she polled seventh in a list by exhibitors of “Stars of Tomorrow.”

During 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), their names were put on the blacklist, and they could not find work.

On October 27, 1947, she flew with a group of about 30 actors, directors, writers, 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, Hunt was asked to denounce her activities 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.

After being blacklisted, she appeared in only several films. 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 and TV shows, including an episode of the ABC medical drama Breaking Point.

In 1971, she appeared in a movie written by fellow blacklist member, Dalton Trumbo, whom Kirk Douglas got back on the screen with Spartacus, in the movie Johnny Got His Gun, playing the mother of Timothy Bottoms.

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 1940s and Our World Since Then was published by Fallbrook Publishing.

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.

In 1938, she married director Jerry Hopper; they divorced in 1943. In 1946, she married TV director and writer Robert Presnell, Jr., a union that lasted until his death, in 1986.