Marsha Hunt death: Blacklisted actor and activist dies aged 104

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Actor Marsha Hunt photographed in 2013 (Getty Images)
Actor Marsha Hunt photographed in 2013 (Getty Images)

Old Hollywood actor and activist Marsha Hunt has died at the age of 104.

Best known for her roles in films such as These Glamour Girls, Pride and Prejudice and Raw Deal, Hunt fell into obscurity after being blacklisted from the industry during the McCarthy communist witchhunts.

Roger C Memos, the writer and director of the 2014 documentary Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity, confirmed news of her death to The Hollywood Reporter.

Hunt died of natural causes at her home in Sherman Oaks, California.

She started her career as a model, before being signed to Paramount Pictures studio at the age of 17.

Her breakthrough came in MGM’s These Glamour Girls in 1939, in which she featured opposite Lana Turner.

A number of other well-received roles followed, including in Anthony Mann’s Raw Deal in 1948.

Hunt’s career took a turn in 1947, when she and her second husband, screenwriter Robert Presnell Jr, joined an organisation opposing the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Although she would later reveal that she had no particular affiliation with communism, Hunt refused to apologise for her association with the committee, which included a stunt in which herself and other members flew to Washington, DC, to attend HUAC hearings and support creatives facing scrutiny.

In 1950, she was blacklisted from Hollywood.

In the decades that followed, she turned increasingly to humanitarian work. Her screen career did endure with a handful of projects, however, including 1971’s Johnny Got His Gun, and in TV series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Among the humanitarian causes Hunt campaigned for were world hunger, homeless shelters, the legalisation of same-sex marriage and climate emergency awareness.

Starting in 1983, Hunt served as the honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks for more than two decades, having first moved there in 1946.

She was married to Presnell for four decades until his death in 1986 at the age of 71.

Hunt is survived by her nieces and nephews, including the actor and filmmaker Allan Hunt.