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Blog: Paying It Forward to Marsha Hunt: One of the Valley's First Community Activists

Marsha Hunt was an actress at Paramount in the 1930's and MGM in the 1940's before she was unfairly blacklisted. She went on to become one of the San Fernando Valley's community activists.

In 1955, Sherman Oaks resident Marsha Hunt took a trip around the world that changed her life. On this trip, she saw abject poverty that she found very disturbing. Haunted by these memosries,she came back from that trip vowing to help educate her fellow Americans about this squalor and poverty..  She became actively involved with the United Nations, telling anyone and everyone about the work they were doing to help people help themselves all over the globe.

As I have mentioned in prior posts, Marsha was one of Hollywood’s first celebrity activists.  She was an activist before the word was even coined.  Over the past 75 years, Marsha has given so much to her country through her work with the United Nations, The USO, The Hollywood Canteen, United Cerebral Palsy, Freedom From Hunger and other charitable organizations.  

Thinking globally and acting locally, Marsha has spent the last 60 years as a community activist,  She has knocked on doors, raised money,  gave speeches, organized blanket drives and walkathons  and joined the board of directors for  the following local committees and organizations  ( and this is just a partial list) : United Nations Association, San Fernando Chapter, Valley Youth Foundation,  San Fernando Fair Housing Council, Community Relations Conference of Southern California, Planned Parenthood/World Population of Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley Community Mental Health, The Valley Interfaith Council, Hollywood Coalition for a SANE Nuclear Policy, San Fernando Valley Friends of Homeless Women and Children and the L.A. County-wide Coalition on the Homeless.

In 1983, The Sherman Oaks Chamber of Commerce  named Marsha  “Honorary Mayor” of Sherman Oaks, a post she held until 2001. As Mayor she did more for the Valley than some elected officials.  She organized a coalition of fellow honorary mayors in surrounding towns and this group known as the “Valley  Mayors Fund For the Homeless”. This group of well known mayors lent their “celebrity” to raise money for homelessness which was a new phenomenon to hit the Valley in the 1970’s.  As honorary mayor, Marsha was one of the first in her neighborhood to raise awareness for this growing homelessness problem.  Marsha , along with fellow hunger activists Valerie Harper and Dennis Weaver spoke out about hunger issues in Los Angeles.  As Honorary Mayor, hunger and homelessness were her main concerns.   In 1986, She was instrumental in helping to open the Valley’s first homeless shelter in North Hollywood. She also opened the first day shelter for homeless woman and children.  The day shelter ran for many years before it finally closed but the homeless shelter is thriving today. It is run by L.A. Family Housing.  L.A. Family Housing is now raising money to renovate the original shelter Marsha helped to open.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am directing and co-producing a feature documentary on Marsha’s life and career.  I have been working on this film for six years now.  We have started editing and it is my hope to finish the film in the spring.  We are in the middle of a fundraising campaign for the film.  In the last 44 days ( of a 90 day campaign) we have raised $1,125.00.  Funds are basically trickling in.  We need to do better than this if we are to finish the film in a timely manner.  Marsha gave her heart and soul to the Valley, now I am asking you to help me “pay it forward” to Marsha by making a tax deductible donation to our documentary "Marsha Hunt's Sweet Adversity" AND SHARING this article with friends, family members and fellow activists. ( and please join our facebook page for updates and progress reports on the film) if you are a member of any of the above mentioned organizations or if you were once, please share this blog with fellow members.

  We are looking for an executive producer for our film, someone who believes in Marsha and can make a financial commitment to this wonderful project.   I’d also like to get together a committee of San Fernando residents who can help me fundraise. Also, please share this with journalists and fellow celebrity activists  who might be able to help us get the word out about this film, which is a “call to action" for activists everywhere.  I am most grateful this Thanksgiving for Marsha Hunt.  Thank you Marsha for always acting on your conscience and following your heart.

to make a tax deductible donation for our film please  go to this website:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/239686?a=5239

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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