Actress turned activist Marsha Hunt is dead at the age of 104. The actress was known for her activism after being blacklisted in Hollywood during McCarthyism. Hunt died earlier this week, on September 7th, from natural causes. The Pride and Prejudice actress passed away surrounded by her closest friends and family in Los Angeles at her home in Sherman Oaks, where she had lived for 76 years. The filmmaker, Roger C. Memos, announced the death as he knew the late actress after directing a documentary in 2015 about her called “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity.”
The late Marsha Hunt appeared in many films at Paramount and MGM between 1935 and 1949 before becoming blacklisted during the witchhunt for communists in 1950s Hollywood. Hunt’s acting career was damaged after her name was printed on the Red Channels; The report of Communist Influence in Radio and Television. The report was an anti-Communist document published in the United States at the start of the 1950s. The book contained 151 names of actors, writers, musicians, and more who were “believed” to be communist sympathizers and thought to be manipulating the entertainment industry somehow. Marsha Hunt was the last surviving name from those persecuted by the Red Channels.
According to Bleecker Street,
Marsha Hunt who claimed the Red Channels “ended my career,” identified the overall cost of reclaiming one’s name: “You had to repent any official stand you may have taken, such as signing a petition for something you believed in. You had to repent all those activities that were cited under your name in Red Channels and to swear lifelong hatred and opposition to the Communist Party.”
Actress Turned Activist Marsha Hunt
Marsha Hunt’s career in activism excelled as she was not wanted for Hollywood films. Though Hunt never actually was a member of the Communist party, she did sign petitions to support causes having to do with civil liberties. After being blackballed, Hunt went full force into her activism. The actress is one of the first true Hollywood celebrity activists and even “worked with the United Nations Association when it wasn’t popular to do so,” according to Alt Film Guide. Hunt worked with many non-profits for over 55 years! She received the title of “honorary mayor” for 18 years from her longtime residence at Sherman Oaks in 1983. She was even awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award, the highest honor from the UNA.
We hope Marsha Hunt’s activism legacy lives on forever. Her story from overcoming the bullies that damaged her career to putting everything into her activism and doing all she could to raise awareness and be a tremendous social activist, is one of true grit and tenacity.
Our condolences to the family and friends of the late actress and activist Marsha Hunt.