Two years ago, while attending the Cinecon festival in Hollywood, I had the great opportunity to speak with classic Hollywood star and tireless civil rights advocate Marsha Hunt. She was attending a screening of Gentle Julia, a movie she made with Jane Withers who was also in attendance. Following the screening, I noticed that most of the audience members flocked to Jane Withers, a frequent Cinecon guest well-known to the audiences who attend the festival yearly.
But I wanted to talk to Marsha Hunt.
There was something about her that was so lovely, gentle, and serene–at 94 years old, she was still dazzlingly beautiful and had no problem standing at her introduction. There was real sweetness in her eyes, and I felt the need to go over and talk to her. So I did, and we had the loveliest discussion about her years with Paramount Pictures, her career, and what she was doing now. Talking to this shy, softspoken elderly woman, one would never suspect that this was one of the fiercest, most outspoken critics of the Hollywood blacklist, who preferred to have her name besmirched and her career ruined than give up what she considered to be important political ideals.
In the late 1940s with the rise of Senator Joseph McCarthy in Wisconsin and anti-Communist sentiment running rampant throughout the United States, many Hollywood figures with liberal inclinations were targeted as Communists and were unable to find work. Among those were those that became known as the “Hollywood Ten,” writers Dalton Trumbo, Adrian Scott, Samuel Ornitz, Albert Maltz, John Howard Lawson, Ring Lardner Jr., Edward Dmytryk, Lester Cole, Herbert Biberman, and Alvah Bessie. In support of them, several prominent Hollywood stars and directors formed the Committee for the First Amendment, dedicated to protecting these and other figures in Hollywood from persecution. One of the most dedicated members was Marsha Hunt, who shortly thereafter found herself on the blacklist due to this and other political activities within Hollywood. She was asked to give up her ideology–and she refused. Her career suffered greatly because of it, but she never sacrificed her principles for the sake of a role. She became active in the issues of the United Nations and has become an unofficial spokesperson for the issues of global pollution, hunger, homelessness, and world peace. She has taken to calling herself a “planet patriot.”
Today, Marsha Hunt is 96 years old and still fighting. This time, her efforts are documented in a forthcoming documentary entitled Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity–the film is in post-production and getting quite a bit of attention on social media. Hunt, also a talented composer, wrote a song about marriage equality that has gone viral:
Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity will tell the life story of Marsha Hunt through interviews, archival footage, talks with fellow actors and co-workers in the United Nations, and friends from her early days as a schoolgirl in New York. The producers are all Emmy winners, and this is sure to be a documentary worth checking out due to the life and nature of this remarkable woman.
The documentary is a small but passionate effort and is looking to enter film festivals, deadlines of which are coming up soon. Entering a film festival can often be quite expensive, so the filmmakers have set up an Indiegogo page where you can make a contribution toward this film’s completion.
Even if you are not able to make a contribution, you can still still support Marsha and the filmmakers by keeping up to date on the progress of Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity. Visit the Facebook page, accessed here, which will give you updates on when the documentary is to be released and how Marsha is doing. You may also visit the IMDB page here.
I have been following this documentary closely, and I am very much looking forward to its release.
Thanks for reading this update, and I’ll see you next time!