Former Hollywood actress Marsha Hunt has died at age 104, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Hunt, who was famously blacklisted in Hollywood over her political activism in the 1940s and 50s, died of natural causes on Wednesday, Sept. 7, at her home in Sherman Oaks, CA.
Hunt appeared in over 50 movies between 1935 and 1949, according to The New York Times, including roles in The Glamour Girls (1939), Pride and Prejudice (1940), and The Human Comedy (1943). She also landed multiple TV roles, including characters on Matlock, Murder, She Wrote and Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The budding starlet appeared to be on the track to stardom when her career was derailed by the Hollywood blacklist after she protested the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which was “seeking to flush communists out of the entertainment industry,” per The Hollywood Reporter.
In protest, Hunt and her husband, Robert Presnell Jr., joined the Committee for the First Amendment, which questioned the legality of the HUAC, along with Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Danny Kate, Johnny Huston and other names in Hollywood.
In 1947, the committee flew to Washington to support fellow creatives who were under scrutiny at HUAC hearings. While many members of the committee eventually backtracked, ultimately saving their careers, Hunt refused, costing her, hers.
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In a 2004 interview with Film Talk, Hunt opened up about the experience, clarifying that she was “never interested in communism,” despite being labeled as a communist sympathizer. “I was very much interested in my industry, my country, and my government,” she stated at the time. “But I was shocked at the behavior of my government and its mistreatment of my industry.”
“And so I spoke out and protested like everyone else on that flight. But then I was told, once I was blacklisted, ‘You see, you were an articulate liberal.’ And that was bad,” she continued. “I was told that in fact it wasn’t really about communism—that was the thing that frightened everybody—it was about control and about power.”
Following her downfall in the film industry, Hunt continued working on television until the late 1980s, and became one of the first major Hollywood actresses to dedicate herself to humanitarian efforts; Hunt spent much of her life working with the U.N. and various other organizations, including UNICEF and the World Health Organization.