Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Temple Tuesday: Marsha, Marsha, Marsha

When Shirley Temple joined the MGM stable of stars in 1941, it’s not surprising that she was given the glamour treatment. Boasting “more stars than there are in heaven,” Shirley was spruced up as much as you could a twelve year old. From the publicity machine:

Shirley Temple steps out of her dressing room—it’s No. 7, and her name is beside the door—in a white formal gown.

Before the makeup and hair people got a hold of Shirley, she was given a tour of MGM by Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney. Louis B. Mayer was very happy to have the hottest teen talent in Hollywood and made the most of this publicity opportunity. Below is a shot of Judy, Mickey, producer Mervyn LeRoy, Shirley, Marsha Hunt, and Fay Holden, on the set of “Blossoms in the Dust.” Judy was sitting in Greer Garson’s chair. I hope Greer was okay with that, as Judy does look a bit uncomfortable!

Never heard of Marsha Hunt? Sadly, that’s not surprising. Blacklisted in the 1950’s during the McCarthy era, she had to shift gears career wise and never quite recaptured her earlier fame, which is fine, as it inspired her to become more active in humanitarian causes. Marsha campaigned to end world hunger, aid the homeless, and supported same-sex marriage, among other notable causes. Shirley and Marsha had something else in common besides film careers; they have both been turned into dolls. 

In 2004, artist and creator of the Gene Marshall fashion doll, Mel Odom, worked with Ashton Drake to release this tribute to Marsha Hunt titled “Mel Loves Marsha.”

Although the doll was a restyled Gene doll, the outfit was all Marsha, based on the outfit seen in this MGM publicity shot:

Marsha had a lead role in the 1947 melodramatic film noir, “Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman,” allegedly based on Bing Crosby and his first wife, Dixie. The cat fight between Marsha and Susan Hayward is the stuff of legend.

Ashton Drake released Gene as Marsha in the “Smash-Up” outfit in 2004:

I’ll save you the trouble of hunting down the catfight scene:

Marsha began her film career at Paramount, which included a role in the Jack Benny musical, “College Holiday” (1936). One of the Edith Head outfits she wore in the film is shown here:

…and was reproduced by Integrity Toys for Gene in 2007:

While the dolls are beautiful, nothing compares to the real-life Marsha, as shown here in this 1967 photo:

What else did Marsha and Shirley have in common? The United Nations. From the Alt Film Guide website:

It was a trip she took around the world in 1955 that opened her eyes to her true calling in life. Dismayed by the poverty she saw on this trip, she realized that she’d been on a soundstage for so much of her life and that there was so much to learn about the world. She vowed in that moment to become a “planet patriot.” One of Hollywood’s first celebrity activists, Marsha worked with the United Nations Association when it wasn’t popular to do so. Even after her local United Nations gift shop was firebombed, she didn’t relent, but went out on the lecture circuit, fighting ignorance and raising awareness. She had limited funds but unlimited passion.

Shirley’s first diplomatic assignment was as U.S. delegate to the United Nations by President Richard Nixon in 1969. Shirley championed issues such as refugee rights, the challenges for the aging population, and environmental concerns. Here is Shirley with husband Charles Black seeing “his wife off to work,” as the photo’s caption stated:

Marsha Hunt recently passed away at the age of 104 on September 7. If you’d like to know more about her (and you should!), watch the trailer for the 2015 documentary about her called, “Sweet Adversity”:

See more Classic Movie & TV photos at my main website.

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