Marsha Hunt, one of the last living Hollywood performers caught in the anti-Communist fervor of the 1950s blacklist, will be honored next month with the inaugural Marsha Hunt for Humanity Award at a Hollywood screening series founded by Kat Kramer.
Kramer is the daughter of liberal icon Stanley Kramer, who helped end the blacklist borne out of the post-war House Un-American Activities Committee hearings on possible Communist influences in the creation of Hollywood movies and TV. The seventh installment of the Kat Kramer’s Films That Change The World screening series is April 10 at the Canon Hollywood Technical Support Center.
Hunt, now 97, had appeared in more than 50 films, including Pride And Prejudice and Cry Havoc before she was blacklisted in 1950 for speaking out against it. Her troubles began in October 1947 when she and a group of prominent actors – including Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Garfield and Edward G. Robinson – flew to Washington, D.C. to support the Hollywood Ten, who had refused to cooperate with the House committee’s witch hunt.
Bogart, Bacall, Garfield and Robinson later issued apologies, saying they’d been “duped” into supporting the Hollywood Ten. But Hunt steadfastly refused to backpedal. In 1950, her name appeared in infamous anti-Communist publication Red Channels, which accused her of being a Communist sympathizer. After that, major studios refused to hire her. Although she would land an occasional job, her career was effectively destroyed. In the years since, she has been an advocate on behalf of the poor, world peace, and the environment.
“I am influenced by Marsha Hunt as a role model and humanitarian,” Kramer said. “She is one of the first major actresses in Hollywood to dedicate her life to causes, and she paved the way for Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Patricia Arquette, Sharon Stone, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Don Cheadle, Tippi Hedren, Ed Begley, Jr., Ed Asner, and Martin Sheen – celebrities who use their fame as a voice for change.”
The April 10 event will feature a screening of the 2014 feature film Bhopal: A Prayer For Rain, which tells the story of the 1984 gas leak at a Union Carbide plant in India that killed as many as 10,000 people. Sheen, the film’s star, will be on hand. Afterward, Kramer will host a panel discussion with Sheen, director Ravi Kumar, co-star Mischa Barton and executive producer Patsy Santosham.