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.
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.
2014 Update: Here's a review of RAW DEAL (1948), a wonderful Anthony Mann film which I saw at UCLA this year.
Please also visit my tribute to Marsha Hunt at ClassicFlix.