Recently I had the good fortune of seeing some footage of a documentary currently in the works on Marsha Hunt that is being produced by two great and as it turns out very talented guys – Roger C. Memos and Richard Adkins.
Being an old Hollywood/movie fan, I figured I knew who Marsha was – a very pretty, very talented actress who had come within a hairbreadth of being cast as “Melanie” in Gone with the Wind (1939). A former New York fashion model, Marsha started in films in 1935 under contract to Paramount before later moving over to MGM during the peak period of her career in the 1940’s. I always found her to be such a charming presence on-screen whether playing sweet as in Pride and Prejudice (1940) or scheming in Smash Up: The Story of a Woman (1947) that it always seemed to me that she should have had a bigger career. As it was, she didn’t have a bad one and I assumed she retired in the 1950’s and went off to lead a happy quiet little existence somewhere in the Valley and that was that.
Well, as it turned out I really knew nothing about Marsha and couldn’t believe what I had been missing.
This is one fascinating lady who has had and continues to lead an extraordinary life. And, yes, she’s not only still alive heading up towards her 94th birthday, but she is literally “ageless” with a mind as sharp as the proverbial tack, quick wit and still just as extraordinarily beautiful as she ever was. And when you find out Marsha’s story she becomes all that much more beautiful, if that’s possible.
Her “retirement” I found out was not by choice, but rather because she became unjustly caught up in the malicious whirlwind of the Communist witch-hunt of the 1950’s with her name published in the infamous Red Channels for committing, it appears, the Un-American act of speaking out against HUAC’s investigation into the Communist infiltration of Hollywood. The taint of Red Channels knocked the stuffing out of her career in Hollywood leaving her with nothing but free time on her hands, a sudden and stunning shock. Did she crawl under the bed in bitterness? She would have had the right to. No, she took the adversity she was faced with and turned it on its ear, finding a new voice in community service and this grew and grew from a modest first effort to build a community center for Sherman Oaks to eventually helping battle hunger and homelessness on an international scale. There is no telling how many countless thousands who have been aided by Marsha’s quietly determined efforts through the decades but the numbers are doubtless legion.
And she has done all this and continues to work without a peep of self aggrandizing publicity. Her extraordinary story might have gone untold had it not been for the efforts of Roger and Richard who are producing this documentary, which is entitled Zelda Can Dance: Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity. But, of course, documentaries do cost (a lot of) money and at this time Roger and Richard are looking for completion funds to get this worthy project to the screen. They are very close with so much already done! I think all the interviews have been completed and now it’s down to the final part of pulling everything all together with the editing.
I really believe in this project and I’m sending the word out into the blogosphere in the hopes there might be someone who could be an angel and give the documentary that final push to the top of the mountain. One big check would be great, but so would a lot of little checks too. If everyone reading this blog donated just $5.00 a piece you could collectively make Zelda Dance! And believe me, you’d be glad you did. Here’s the link to their website where you can get more information on the project and also contribute if you can.