Roger Memos ’79 Screened "Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity" on Campus
Under sponsorship of the KSC Film Society and the Film Studies Dept., Roger Memos ’79, a film producer, writer, and rights clearance professional, was on campus April 13th to screen his documentary, Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity, in the Putnam Theatre.
Marsha Hunt began her acting career with Paramount Studios in 1935, when she was 17. She starred in several films for Paramount and later for MGM and worked constantly during WWII to support American soldiers. At the height of her stardom, and in spite of her patriotic efforts, her name appeared in 1950 in Red Channels, a McCarthy Era pamphlet that named purported Communists in the television and radio industry. Thus blacklisted, Marsha’s career came to an abrupt halt.
Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity breaks Marsha’s life story into three parts – her life before being blacklisted, the period leading up to the blacklist, and her life after the blacklist – and shows how the blacklist served as a springboard to her second career as a full-time activist and humanitarian.
“Marsha’s life before the blacklist was a time of great joy and innocence,” Memos explained. “The period leading up to her being blacklisted provides the drama and tension in the film. Her story is a history lesson that can only be told by someone who was there as Marsha was. She is the only living member of the Committee for the First Amendment who can talk about the trip she and others took in October 1947 to support the Hollywood 19.”
Undaunted and unbowed by the unfair blow to her career, Marsha took a trip around the world in 1955 and was moved by the abject poverty she saw. She used her celebrity to help raise awareness and funds, and for the next 60 years she devoted her life to humanitarian causes such as world hunger and homelessness.
Marsha Hunt is still very much alive and turns 100 this October. “Her life story has peaks and valleys that span the course of the 20th century,” Memos said. “The underlying theme of our documentary is that Marsha rose above adversity. When life handed her lemons, she made lemonade. When the industry she loved turned its back on her, she forgave them and moved on to a second career as a ‘planet patriot.’ She continues to support causes that she feels need a voice. This film is Marsha’s final act of activism. Through her words and action, this film will serve as an inspirational primer for activists of all ages.”
“Roger’s film on Marsha Hunt touches upon several important issues: the treatment of women in the workplace, suppression of political views, and public intimidation of outspoken individuals,” noted Film Professor Emeritus Larry Benaquist. “Marsha was a gifted actress and generous social activist whose career was nearly destroyed by vindictive political forces. Her philanthropy and generosity outlived her period on the Blacklist (she is still alive at the age of ninety-nine), and she is held in high regard for her social justice work.”