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'Paying It Forward' in 2013—It Takes a Village to Make a Documentary

Blacklisted actress Marsha Hunt overcomes adversity and becomes one of Hollywood's first celebrity activists

With three days left on our fundraising campaign for our feature documentary on Sherman Oaks resident Marsha Hunt, I thought that I would make a last push to convince you why you should help us "pay it forward" to Marsha Hunt by contibuting to our documentary.

As I mentioned in previous posts, after Marsha was unfairly blacklisted, she went on to become one of the first in Hollywood to use her "celebrity" to raise awareness and funds for neglected causes such as hunger and homelessness. As Honorary Mayor of Sherman Oaks (1983-2001), she accomplished more for the Valley than many elected officials.

Much of her activism work was "pioneering" in nature. She participated in the very first walk-a-thon in the country. She, along with Ralph Edwards and Jack Webb, hosted one of the first telethons in the country for United Cerebral Palsy in 1953.  It was a 30 hour telethon and Marsha told me that she stayed up the whole time.

She was one of the very first celebrities to become actively involved with the United Nations back in the 1950's, speaking to civic groups across the country. The United Nations Association chapter that she and two others started in the Mid-Wilshire District is still going strong after 53 years.

After visiting the United Nations Gift Shop in New York City, Marsha came up with the idea to have her local San Fernando UNA Chapter run a gift shop carrying international gifts and products. The gift shop was a success and soon UNA chapters across the country used Marsha's concept of selling international gifts. The United Nations Gift Shop Marsha helped to open in San Pedro in the 1960s is still going strong.

Not many people know that in 1957, Marsha and Cal State Northridge professor William Schlosser oepened the first teen acting workshop in a tent on the CSUN campus. The program now known as TADW (Teenage Drama Workshop) has grown by leaps and bounds and is STILL run by the university after 56 years.

Marsha has loved and cared about the Valley for over 65 years.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, she was one of the first to recognize that the Valley had a growing homelessness problem. She rallied and put together a task force of fellow Honorary Mayors, along with the Valley Interfaith Council and helped to open the first homeless shelter in the Valley in 1986. That shelter is thriving after 26 years. The shelter is now run by L.A. Family Housing. The organization uses this building as a "transitional" housing facility. The "mission statement for LA Family Housing is as follows:

"Our mission is to help families transition out of homelessness and poverty through a continuum of housing enriched with supportive services."

When Marsha started the shelter 26 years ago, she had no idea that her idea for a homeless shelter would grow into this wonderful, supportive organization. But that is how activism works. Marsha made one kind act 26 years ago and now she gets to see the ripple effect of how that one act has affected so many over the years.

Our film is not about just telling Marsha's life story. We want to take her story and use it as an educational tool to help raise awareness about activism.  Marsha's story is inspiring and we want to get her story up on the screen as soon as possible.

Between the "fiscal cliff' and the elections, fundraising has been difficult.  We need the community to rally behind us and "pay it forward' to this wonderful actress and activist. If your lives have been touched by Marsha in any way, please make a donation and SHARE this post with others in the Valley during our last 4 days of fundraising.  We'd love to at least raise another four thousand dollars so that we can ensure that we will have enough funds to finsh editing a first cut of the film.

As Marsha is 95, our goal is to finish the film this spring so she can see the film as soon as possible and revel in the praise that she will receive for a life well led.

While many in the Valley know Marsha as an activist, it is important to also remember her contributions as an actress. She made 54 films in 17 years before she was unfairly blacklisted.  She was one of the very first to act in live television in the 1940's.  She was a popular radio actress and starred in six Broadway shows.  Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, her acting legacy will live on...

If you love Marsha as an actress, please honor her by making a tax deductible donation and sharing this blog with other Marsha fans.

We welcome all ideas for fundraisers and if there is an executive producer out there looking for their next project, we would love to talk to you.

Thanks so much for allowing me to share with you.  Happy New Year to all!

Here is the link to our fundraising trailer. Please SHARE: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/239686

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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