Happy 99th Birthday, Marsha Hunt!

The lovely Marsha Hunt, born Marcia Virginia Hunt in Chicago, Illinois, is celebrating her 99th birthday today! Here are some MA Did-You-Knows:

  • The daughter of an attorney and voice teacher, Hunt and her family moved to New York City when she was three years old. She took an interest in performing at an early age, appearing in school plays and performing at church functions.
  • After graduating from NYC’s Horace Mann High School (at age 16!), she worked as a model and as a singer on the radio while studying drama at the Theodora Irvine’s Studio of the Theatre (where Cornel Wilde was one of her classmates)
  • At 17 (and accompanied by her older sister), Hunt moved to Hollywood to pursue a career in motion pictures. She was quickly signed by Paramount Pictures and in 1935 made her debut in The Virginia Judge. She was relegated to mostly B pictures at Paramount and when her career failed to take off, she began to freelance at various studios, including many of the Poverty Row outfits.
  • In 1939, Hunt signed with MGM, where she was given solid parts but rarely lead roles. Her association with MGM came to an end in 1945 and she began freelance again (it was during this period that she appeared as the “good girl” counterpart to Claire Trevor‘s “bad girl” in Anthony Mann‘s classic film noir Raw Deal (1948).
  • In 1948, Hunt decided to give Broadway a try, debuting in Joy to the World. She appeared in a number of other shows as well, including a turn as Anna in a production of The King and I. She also appeared on Broadway with Johnny Carson, in a production called Tunnel of Love.
  • Hunt was a lifelong liberal and in the early 1950s, some of her past political activities unfairly came back to haunt her. Although she was never called to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, her name appeared in the infamous Red Channels pamphlet that purported to expose Communists and other subversives in the radio and television industries. She made just three films in the next eight years.
  • Semi-retired thereafter, Marcia has devoted herself to humanitarian causes and organizations, among them UNICEF, The March of Dimes and The Red Cross.
  • Hunt was named the honorary mayor of Sherman Oaks, California, in 1983 and still holds that “post” today.
  • In 1993, Hunt published a book on fashion entitled The Way We Wore.
  • In 1998, Hunt received the Eleanor Roosevelt Humanitarian Award for her charitable and humanitarian activities.

Happy birthday, Marsha Hunt, and many happy returns of the day!

Marsha Hunt

Happy Birthday, Deborah Kerr!

Few women stars of the Cladrite Era starred in more iconic motion pictures than Deborah Kerr, born 94 years ago today in Helensburgh, Scotland. The list is an impressive one: The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), Black Narcissus (1947), From Here to Eternity (1953), Tea And Sympathy (1956), The King and I (1956), and Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison (1957), to name just a few.

And yet, in our sometimes foggy recollection, it seems she played primarily two disparate types of roles (mind you, we haven’t done the math on this): nuns and adulterous wives.

Kerr’s low-key elegance is still quite appealing, though we fear that, considering how big a name she once was, her star has fallen more than many others of her time. And that’s a shame. She was supremely talented—at six, she holds the record for the most Academy Award nominations for Best Actress without a win (she was, thankfully, finally awarded an honorary lifetime achievement Oscar)—and she seems to been a person of principles as well: She was patron of Britain’s National Society of Clean Air and Environmental Protection from 1992 until her death in 2007.

Happy birthday, Ms. Kerr, wherever you may be.

Deborah Kerr quote