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Marsha Hunt.MARSHA HUNT

Marsha Hunt’s entrance into pictures was rather unique. “I literally used child psychology to get into pictures. Two photographers I’d worked for told me to use ‘child psychology’. Tell someone they can’t have something, they immediately want, even demand, it. So, it was arranged that I, a New York fashion model, was on vacation in Los Angeles, but I was not certainly not available for film work. Well, it worked, and I signed with Paramount! A truly different way to get into the film business.”

In the ‘30s Marsha appeared in several westerns for Paramount. “That was so long ago, I don’t really remember ‘Arizona Raiders’—where we shot it. I do remember ‘Desert Gold’, the first of my westerns, was shot in the valley at Chatsworth. At the time, it was a primitive area—not overgrown with buildings and condos. I can recall some of the supporting cast—Monte Blue, Syd Saylor—but the plot is a blur. Bob Cummings, who was also in my very first picture, was marvelous. It was a fun picture. Bob played a comic role—a tenderfoot Englishman—very awkward. We remained lifelong friends. I recall his great versatility. He was a fine dramatic actor although when he got into TV, he was primarily thought of for comedy only. Buster Crabbe impressed me that a swimmer could act that well. He was a very nice fellow—but the studio couldn’t decide what to call him. Larry or Buster or Larry Buster. Some of my stills have it two different ways—on the same picture!!”

Tom Keene: “A lovely man. George Duryea was his real name—he’d used that in silents. We hadn’t seen each other in years when I noticed a play at the Carthay Circle Theatre. The stage manager’s name was George Duryea. I checked and it was him! I saw Tom just before he died at the Motion Picture Country Hospital. He had really wasted away to skin and bones, eaten up with cancer. He died only two or three weeks later. I hesitated about it, but decided to go on and bring some old stills from ‘Desert Gold’ to show him in the hospital. Fortunately, it worked out alright. He called the nurses to come and see what he looked like when he was young and healthy and, of course, he was so good looking.”

Tom Keene and Marsha Hunt in her first western, "Desert Gold" ('36 Paramount). Marsha's with Bob Cummings in the title-logo photo.

Leif (pronounced Life) Erickson: “We worked together first in ‘College Holiday’. We sang to each other. He had a big, burly baritone voice that was unfortunately seldom used in pictures. It was a beautiful voice. I’d forgotten how good he was until I got a video of the film recently. When we worked together he was falling in love with Frances Farmer, so there was never any romantic thing between us. He should have been treated better by Hollywood.”

John Wayne protects Marsha Hunt in "Born to the Westa", re-issued as "Hell Town".Regarding “Born To The West” (re-issued as “Hell Town”) with John Wayne, “I noticed Alan Ladd had a bit part when I saw it recently. As to John Wayne—he was just a likable big lug. Nothing at all extraordinary. He was the first to say he was no actor. In those days, he wasn’t into politics. None of us were. I don’t think we became aware—politically— until World War II.”

“I did six pictures a year for two years at Paramount then sat around the third year, finally being loaned to RKO for a picture with James Ellison, ‘Annapolis Salute’ (‘37). We really ground them out in those days. ‘Born to The West’ I recall as being pretty nice—not extra special. But don’t ever let me be the judge. I do think it was well made.”

“When I first went to Paramount, I didn’t want to do westerns. I was not suited to them. I said, ‘I should be in Easterns, I’m not a strong, western gal type.’ They retorted with, ‘You’re tall and look good on horses.’”

Marsha Hunt speaks with Buster Crabbe in "Arizona Raiders" (re-released as "Bad Men of Arizona"). With them are Don Rowan and Grant Withers.In 1960 Marsha returned to westerns for “The Plunderers”. “The story setting was period but it wasn’t a cowboy and Indian type of thing. I loved Dolores Hart. We became great friends and still correspond from time-to-time. She’s a Mother Superior now! I was so fond of Jeff Chandler who passed away shortly thereafter. It was such a loss when he died. The two of us had previously done a remarkable play, ‘The Rivalry’, about the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Norman Corwin, the best writer in radio, went through old records and added details. He produced a great play. Phillip Pine played Douglas, I was Mrs. Douglas. Jeff Chandler was Lincoln. It toured all over California but when it went to Broadway, Richard Boone played Lincoln.”

Marsha’s Western Filmography


Movies: Desert Gold (‘36 Paramount)—Buster Crabbe; Arizona Raiders (‘36 Paramount)—Buster Crabbe; Born To The West [Retitled: Helltown] (‘37 Paramount)—John Wayne; Thunder Trail (‘37 Paramount)—Gilbert Roland; Plunderers (‘60 Allied Artists)—Jeff Chandler. TV: Zane Grey Theatre: Let The Man Die (‘58); Zane Grey Theatre: Checkmate (‘59); Zane Grey Theatre: Man From Yesterday (‘60); Laramie: Circle Of Fire (‘59); Americans: Inquisitors (‘61).

 

 

 

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