Blacklisted Hollywood actress lost her career amid fear, ignorance. At 100, finding an audience for her story brings …


It all comes down to this for “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity” -10 matinees in six days with one, special night showing – all at the Laemmle Town Country 5 in Encino starting Friday, July 13.

After 10 years in the making, either this timely documentary that filmmaker Roger Memos has made on the blacklisting of the now 100-year-old actress is seen by the right people in this town who can help move it forward, or it goes on the shelf after it closes its run next Thursday afternoon.

“I have just enough money to get it into the Laemmle, but after that, the financial well is dry,” said Memos, who directed and co-produced the 93-minute documentary.

“Fundraising has been very tough as many of Marsha’s friends and fans are older and living on fixed incomes, like her.”

Hunt still lives in the same stately home in Sherman Oaks that she bought in 1946. Today, the house and grounds are a bit worn around the edges, but a fixed income hasn’t affected the sweetness and beauty of the resident living inside.

Actress Marsha Hunt and filmmaker Roger Memos. (Courtesy)

She still carries herself like a star, who made the cover of Life Magazine, and shot 54 films in 17 years at Paramount and MGM before her career came to a quiet halt in 1950.

“I never retired,” Hunt said. “The offers just stopped coming. I was told all I had to do to get my career back was take out a full page ad in the Hollywood trades and apologize, but I refused.”

Apologize for what? She wasn’t a communist sympathizer. She was an intelligent, passionate woman hanging out with the Hollywood in crowd – Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and director John Huston — all of whom flew back to Washington D.C. to provide moral support for their co-workers appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1950.

Marsha Hunt

 

For that she was labeled a communist sympathizer by the right-wing pamphlet Red Channels. Her acting career was effectively over, but her activist career was just beginning.

It’s all there in this riveting documentary we may never see after next week because Hunt is, in effect, being blacklisted again. Not by a right-wing political pamphlet this time, but by her own liberal Hollywood community ignoring what she has to say.

The big stars and producers today don’t seem to have an hour and 33 minutes to spare to watch one of their own from another generation freshen their memories of a time in their profession they should never forget – especially now with a president in the White House who seems to blacklist anyone who disagrees with him.

RELATED STORY: At 98, actress Marsha Hunt is grateful for a life helping others

Hunt was only 32 when she was forced out of her profession by fear and ignorance. She didn’t retreat to her mansion and spend the rest of her life waiting for Mr. DeMille to call. This wasn’t Sunset Boulevard.

She swallowed the hurt and moved on, becoming a confidant of Eleanor Roosevelt, and supporter of the United Nations, traveling to every continent to aid in the fight to end world hunger.

She came home to help open the first homeless shelter and battered woman’s safe house in the Valley, and championed marriage equality.

The only thing Marsha Hunt was guilty of was caring too much. Standing up to dictators on the world stage, and political bullies at home. Hollywood should be awarding her a special Oscar for honesty and courage in a real life role, not turning its back on her.

“I learned the hard way that celebrities do not part with their money very readily,” Memos said.

“In 2008 we stopped production and spent our money in putting together an 18-minute promo film on Marsha to entice Hollywood activists to donate to the film.

“After all our blood, sweat, and tears, we only raised $500 from Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. This is not to say that people didn’t open their hearts to us. Many people around the world gave $5 and $10 donations. These are the donations that meant the world to us.

“I do know, though, that once a celebrity finally sees the film and endorses it, we will catch that elusive break this film deserves,” Memos said.

In the meantime, the octogenarian star of “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity,” sits at home a few miles from the only theater she and Memos could afford to rent for 10 matinees in six days, and one night showing – hoping Hollywood finds the time to see her final act.

What a shame if it doesn’t.

The Laemmle is at 17200 Ventura Blvd. in Encino. Show dates and times are today, Friday, July 13th through next Thursday, July 19th, at 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. only. On Tuesday, July 17th, at 7:20 p.m., there will be a special screening. Hunt is scheduled to speak after the film.

For fans who want to help keep the documentary in the public eye, a donation can be made at gofundme.com/ctgvpg.

Dennis McCarthy’s column runs on Friday. He can be reached at dmccarthynews@gmail.com.



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