(Click here for the video of Marsha Hunt, longtime resident of Sherman Oaks and Studio City.)
Quite often, when one mentions the Committee for the First Amendment, the first thing that comes to many people's mind is the film "The Way We Were". In the film, Katie Morosky as played by Barbra Streisand is outspoken about her conviction that the House UnAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC) hearings in Washington were morally unconscionable. In real life, Marsha felt the same way. For her and her husband Robert, this trip was personal. She and Robert knew and loved Adrian Scott, one of the "Hollywood Ten" who was on trial in Washington. She knew nothing of his politics, only that he was a man of good character and that he didn't deserve this treatment from HUAC.
A few weeks after returning from Washington, Marsha's husband, screenwriter Robert Presnell Jr. wrote a letter to a friend, describing in detail what happened on this historic trip. The following is an excerpt of this letter in which Marsha has her own "Katie Morosky" moment on the trip. Like Katie in the film, she acted on her conscience...
"Kansas City was the Committee's first stop enroute to Washington. The Committeee was NOT prepared for the hysteria that ensued on this first stop where they had hoped to inform the public about the reason for their mission. There was a lot of confusion, a lot of repetition, both in questions and the answers. No one was too sure about what should be said. Policy about whether we were flying in defense of the Nineteen was not clearly laid down. The crowds milled and did the things they always do.
The airport attendants had no police authority, until the crowd started up the gangplank, and then they chased them down. It was an ill defined meeting with the people, a confused meeting with the press, and unsatisfactory to everyone.
But it was Marsha who ended this by raising her voice and without the help of a microphone, succeeded in getting attention and quiet. She told them in no uncertain terms what we were flying to Washington for. She reproved them gently for not trying to understand. She asked them point-blank if they could subscribe to the smear of Hollywood, and if they believed themselves subverted by any motion picture. She made them laugh, she made them sober-faced. And then, she made Humphrey Bogart talk, and Lauren, and the rest of them. And the crowd listened - not hearing every word because the wind was blowing, and there were planes coming in and taking off, and they couldn't get close enough. But they heard the main points.
That is what Hoffman in the "Reporter" meant when he printed that Marsha should win an Academy Award for her speech on the Thomas Committee in Kansas City"
Thank you Marsha for acting on your conscience. I am proud to say that I am directing a feature documentary on Marsha and her life achievements. If you would like to learn more about Marsha or care to make a donation, please click on this link. Finally, evden if you cannot make a donation, please honor Marsha by SHARING this article with those you feel will support our film.