Hollywood Heritage

imagesMBKJ2PE5Today I drove down from my mountain retreat to the Burbank International Film Festival to see the debut of a documentary on the life and courage of the beautiful 90-something actor, MARSHA HUNT. It was exciting and uplifting for many reasons, one being that my friend ROGER MEMOS created the film from scratch, from that moment when his life intersected with the woman who inspired him to spend nine years creating the amazing documentary about an amazing woman. The documentary is what Variety would call Boffo!  The debut was a truly authentic Hollywood event with a crowd that filled the lobby to the point of claustrophobia and every theater seat with enthusiastic fans shouting, whistling.thrilled to the max. Bravo Roger!!!! Bravo Marsha for inspiring my friend to dedicate almost a decade of his life to bringing your story to the public in a permanent document that will go on to show the positive effects of perseverance and optimism.

Roger and I discovered that we were both born in New Hampshire and that is what led us to a friendship that has lasted since the night he and his ultra-patient wife, Laurie and I met at the taping of a Carol Burnett Show in my first week in Hollywood twenty-two years ago.

When I was little I used to go to the Gorman and the Hollis Street theaters in Framingham, Massachusetts with my girlfriend, Madeleine Pizzieri. I was four and she was six. We went every Saturday and in those days before TV, movies were a bargain. Ten cents with a one penny tax to spend all day in the dark watching lots of cartoons, the Three Stooges, travelogues, serials, short subjects, and a double feature. We went in the morning and came out in the dark.

I will always remember the feelings from the first film I ever saw: A Night in Paradise with Turhan Bey and Linda Darnell. Most likely it is a cheesy movie (that is why I don’t ever want to see it as an adult), but when I was four it was magic. I came home in a daze, went to my bed and turned to the wall, not wanting anyone to ever break the spell I was under, in a new world of fantasy. When my grandmother came in and told me it was time to take my bath, It was over! I asked her where movies are made and it’s the first time I heard the word, Hollywood. It was always my dream to go there.

Ah, finally, after much disaster with human relationships and broken dreams, I made it to this singular place that I will always love.  Where else can you find men of distinction in pin-striped suits sitting in a penthouse office on the Avenue of the Stars talking about a cartoon mouse?

I am grateful to all the “stars” and all the writers, directors and producers in the tinseled firmament who have widened our dreams, made uplifting films that make our day to day world better, who erase our hurts two hours at a time. MARSHA HUNT is certainly one of the stars I have to thank. And ROGER MEMOS, founder of the production company “Zelda Can Dance”– thank you for taking the time to bring her story to the wider world and younger generations, a story of a life, equally measured with disaster and hope, persecution and action. your documentary shows clearly a woman of Inspiration and leadership despite spurious attacks and evil/nasty people who cannot bear another’s success. It is a story of a woman who lived through decades of American turmoil: the weirdness of the haters among us still: the HUAC, WWII: Witch hunts and warfare and still, she had the strength to persevere and rise to be “the change she wanted to see in the world.” (Ghandi) Live long and prosper, Ms. Hunt, and may your story reach a wide audience!

I highly recommend this film, titled Sweet Adversity. Look for it until you find it. It is the true story of a fairy tale life, complete with monsters and a handsome prince and a beautiful star in the Hollywood firmament who continues to shine! It will be next at the Ojai Film Festival in November. Don’t miss it!!!! You will come out of the theater under her spell. It may even change your life!    Brava to Marsha! And Bravo to Roger for bringing us her story!

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A pristine large print from my gallery: Homage by John Hunter. Original, signed and dated by the artist.  A work honoring the tradition, heritage and personal power of the artist to endure and inspire others. Includes a self-portrait of Hunter, and the clear reference to Edvard Munch. $2500.  (museum archival papers and professionally framed in metal of the same color as the ink) Measurements on request. Contact: joanjohnson4@msn.com

you can read more about John Hunter on the literary pages on this site.

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