Actress Marsha Hunt has played many roles--the hairdresser, the unwed mother, the society snob and the chorus girl--but she has never played the fool.
When many actresses her age were posing for cheesecake swimsuit pictures, Hunt refused and determined to base her career on her acting ability, rather than her good looks.
Marsha Virginia Hunt was born on Oct. 17, 1917, in Chicago, the daughter of an insurance executive and a former operatic soprano and vocal coach. She was raised in New York and attended the Theodore Irving School of Dramatics. She worked as a model before she signed with Paramount Pictures when she was 17. But her best roles--including "Pride and Prejudice" in 1940 and "The Trial of Mary Dugan" in 1941--were with MGM, around the time she moved to Sherman Oaks.
In 1947, her career took a downturn after a trip to Washington, D.C., during the McCarthy era. Hunt and a group of other Hollywood actors, producers and directors--including Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart--were called to testify about film and politics to the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
"It was an attack," Hunt said in a 1994 interview with The Times. "Congressmen from tiny states quickly found out they could make headlines by attacking Hollywood."
When they returned, Bacall and Bogart retracted statements they had made at the hearings--Hunt did not and was blacklisted.
In all Hunt made 62 films and starred in six Broadway plays and dozens of other productions. She has also done numerous radio and TV dramas, including "Matlock," "Murder, She Wrote" and "Star Trek: The Next Generation."
These days Hunt, a longtime advocate for the United Nations, is active as the honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks and founder of the San Fernando Valley Mayor's Fund for the Homeless.