Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Birthday Tribute to Marsha Hunt

The lovely and talented Marsha Hunt celebrates her 95th birthday today. Marsha was born in Chicago on October 17, 1917.


I've loved Marsha Hunt since I was very young and fell in love with classic films via the magic of MGM. My favorite MGM films included PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940), in which Marsha played the painfully off-key but funny Mary; the beautiful WWII homefront film THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943); and one of Margaret O'Brien's best films, LOST ANGEL (1943), pictured at the left.

In the years since, I've sought out many more Marsha Hunt films and loved her in all of them, with I'LL WAIT FOR YOU (1941) and THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942) being particular favorites.

Pictured at the right: Marsha with Katharine Alexander and James Craig in THE HUMAN COMEDY (1943).

Thanks to the Noir City festivals in Hollywood, I've had the privilege of meeting Marsha Hunt and hearing her speak about her career. I've been blessed to meet a surprisingly large number of actors over the years, but it's hard for me to put into words how special it was having the opportunity to have a one-on-one discussion with her for a few minutes last year. I had the chance to tell her how much I enjoy THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA, which she shared was also one of her personal favorites, and she also related how difficult it was for her to sing off-key in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, as her parents were musicians!

Marsha with Eddie Muller and Alan Rode in April 2011:


This year she gave a talk in between screenings of KID GLOVE KILLER (1942) and MARY RYAN, DETECTIVE (1949) and shared that she had first visited the theater we were in when she was a child on vacation. She dreamed then of being in the movies, and was amazed that we were there decades later to discuss her career. More of her stories are recounted in my post on MARY RYAN.

At the right: Marsha, third from left, with Maureen O'Sullivan, Greer Garson, and Mary Boland in PRIDE AND PREJUDICE (1940). If anyone in our family happens across this film on Turner Classic Movies, it stays on the TV until it's finished, regardless of the fact that we own the DVD and can watch it at any time!

Marsha has also written an amazing glossy-paged coffee table book, THE WAY WE WORE: STYLES OF THE 1930S AND '40S AND OUR WORLD SINCE THEN. It examines fashions of the '30s and '40s as seen from a huge collection of her film and publicity stills. It's a must for anyone who loves MGM films in general and Marsha Hunt in particular.

A documentary, MARSHA HUNT'S SWEET ADVERSITY, is in the works.

The thing I will always remember most about this beautiful, elegant lady is how she radiates grace, happiness, and serenity. When I met her last year, Marsha clasped my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, "I've had a wonderful life!"

Marsha Hunt films reviewed at Laura's Miscellaneous Musings: EASY LIVING (1937) (bit part), ANNAPOLIS SALUTE (1937), THESE GLAMOUR GIRLS (1939), IRENE (1940), FLIGHT COMMAND (1940), I'LL WAIT FOR YOU (1941), KID GLOVE KILLER (1942), THE AFFAIRS OF MARTHA (1942), SEVEN SWEETHEARTS (1942), BRIDE BY MISTAKE (1944), A LETTER FOR EVIE (1946), MARY RYAN, DETECTIVE (1949), THE HAPPY TIME (1952), and BOMBERS B-52 (1957).

2013 Update: An additional review: THE INSIDE STORY (1947), which includes an account of Marsha's personal appearance at a UCLA screening of the film.

4 Comments:

Blogger Jacqueline T Lynch said...

Lovely post about a truly lovely woman. How nice that you met her. Her comic turn in "Pride & Prejudice" is one of the best things about that movie. Looking forward to that documentary.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Lovely actress. Saw LETTER FOR EVIE recently. I always like Hume Cronin. Have you seen him in THE SEVENTH CROSS? A very moving film and Hume is excellent.

8:41 AM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Laura, if you like Marsha Hunt you will want to seek out RAW DEAL, 1948 film noir directed by Anthony Mann in which Hunt co-stars with Dennis O'Keefe and Claire Trevor. An outstanding movie, beautifully directed and photograhed (John Alton) and all three stars characteristically excellent.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you all so much for the feedback. Marsha is a treasure!

I haven't seen THE SEVENTH CROSS yet, Vienna, I'll keep my eyes open for it.

RAW DEAL is definitely in my "short stack," Blake! Sounds like my kind of movie. :) Seeing Alton's REIGN OF TERROR this year was a real thrill. Looking forward to crossing another of his noir titles off my viewing list when I see RAW DEAL.

Best wishes,
Laura

7:15 PM  

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