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Martita Edith Hunt (30 January 1900 – 13 June 1969) was an Argentine-born English theatre and film actress. She had a dominant stage presence and played a wide range of powerful characters. She is best remembered for her performance as Miss Havisham
Miss Havisham
in David Lean's Great Expectations.

Contents

1 Biography

1.1 Early life 1.2 Early theatrical career 1.3 Early film career 1.4 Later career 1.5 Death

2 Selected filmography 3 References 4 Sources 5 External links

Biography[edit] Early life[edit] Hunt was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina
Buenos Aires, Argentina
on 30 January 1900[1] to English parents Alfred and Marta (née Burnett) Hunt. She spent the first 20 years of her life in Argentina before she returned with her parents to England to attend Queenwood Ladies' College in Eastbourne and then to train as an actress. Early theatrical career[edit] Hunt began her acting career in repertory theatre at Liverpool before moving to London. She first appeared there in the Stage Society's production of Ernst Toller's The Machine Wreckers at the Kingsway Theatre in May 1923. From 1923 to 1929, she appeared as the Principessa della Cercola in W. Somerset Maugham's Our Betters
Our Betters
(Globe, 1924) and as Mrs. Linde in Ibsen's A Doll's House
A Doll's House
(Playhouse, 1925) in the West End, along with engagements at club theatres such as the Q Theatre and the Arts Theatre
Arts Theatre
and a short 1926 Chekhov season at the small Barnes Theatre under Theodore Komisarjevsky
Theodore Komisarjevsky
(playing Charlotta Ivanovna, in The Cherry Orchard
The Cherry Orchard
and Olga in Three Sisters).[citation needed] In September 1929, she joined the Old Vic
Old Vic
company, then led by Harcourt Williams, and, during the following eight months played Béline in Molière's The Imaginary Invalid, Queen Elizabeth in George Bernard Shaw's The Dark Lady of the Sonnets, and Lavinia in Shaw's Androcles and the Lion. However, her time there was more noted for a succession of Shakespearean roles: the Nurse in Romeo and Juliet, Portia in The Merchant of Venice, the Queen in Richard II, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Portia in Julius Caesar), including roles with John Gielgud
John Gielgud
(Rosalind in As You Like It, Lady Macbeth
Macbeth
in Macbeth, and Gertrude in Hamlet). In Hunt's entry in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Donald Roy wrote:

"With an arresting appearance and a dominant stage presence, she proved most effective as strong, tragic characters, her Gertrude in Hamlet
Hamlet
being accounted by some critics the finest they had seen."

She then returned to the West End (briefly returning to the Old Vic
Old Vic
to play Emilia in the 1938 Othello), notably playing Edith Gunter in Dodie Smith's Autumn Crocus (Lyric, 1931), the Countess of Rousillon in All's Well That Ends Well
All's Well That Ends Well
(Arts, 1932), Lady Strawholme in Ivor Novello's Fresh Fields (Criterion, 1933), Liz Frobisher in John Van Druten's The Distaff Side (Apollo, 1933), Barbara Dawe in Clemence Dane's Moonlight Is Silver (Queen's, 1934), Theodora in Elmer Rice's Not for Children (Fortune, 1935), Masha in Chekhov's The Seagull
The Seagull
(New Theatre, 1936), the Mother in an English-language version of García Lorca's Bodas de sangre ("Marriage of Blood"; Savoy, 1939), Léonie in Jean Cocteau's Les Parents Terribles (Gate, 1940), Mrs Cheveley in Oscar Wilde's An Ideal Husband
An Ideal Husband
(Westminster, 1943), and Cornelia in John Webster's The White Devil
The White Devil
(Duchess, 1947). Early film career[edit] Hunt also appeared in many supporting roles in several popular British films such as Good Morning, Boys (1937), Trouble Brewing (1939), and The Man in Grey
The Man in Grey
(1943). The Wicked Lady
The Wicked Lady
(1945) was an international success, but her next film role in David Lean's Great Expectations (1946) would be her most famous and most lauded.[2] As Miss Havisham, she reprised her role from the 1939 stage adaptation by Alec Guinness which provided the inspiration and template for Lean's film. Her performance met with significant acclaim, and Roger Ebert later wrote in 1999 that she "dominate[d] the [film's] early scenes, playing Miss Havisham as a beak-nosed, shabby figure, bedecked in crumbling lace and linen, not undernourished despite her long exile."[3] Later career[edit] From this time on, she divided her time between British and American films as well as the stage. She won a Tony Award
Tony Award
in 1949 for her Broadway début as Countess Aurelia in the English-speaking première of Giraudoux's The Madwoman of Chaillot
The Madwoman of Chaillot
(though she had relatively less impact on the production's 1952 tour). Her last stage role was as Angélique Boniface in Hotel Paradiso, an adaptation from Feydeau, again with Guinness at the Winter Garden Theatre
Winter Garden Theatre
in May 1956.[4] Other films in which she appeared include: Anna Karenina (1948), The Fan (1949), Anastasia (1956), Three Men in a Boat (1956), The Admirable Crichton (1957), The Brides of Dracula
The Brides of Dracula
(1960), The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (1962), Becket (1964), The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) and Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965). She also appeared on TV as Lady Bastable in several adaptations of the Saki
Saki
stories (1962)[2][4] Death[edit] Martita Hunt died of bronchial asthma at her home in Hampstead, London, aged 69, on 13 June 1969. Her estate was valued at £5,390. She never married. She was an aunt of actor Gareth Hunt.[5] She was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium
Golders Green Crematorium
on 19 June and her ashes lie in the Ivor Novello
Ivor Novello
Rose Bed. Selected filmography[edit]

The Rank Outsider (1920) Service for Ladies
Service for Ladies
(1932) as Aline - Countess Ricardi's Maid (uncredited) Love on Wheels
Love on Wheels
(1932) as Piano Demonstrator I Was a Spy
I Was a Spy
(1933) as Aunt Lucille Friday the Thirteenth (1933) as Agnes Lightfoot Too Many Millions (1934) as Mrs. Pilcher Mr. What's-His-Name? (1935) as Mrs. Davies The Case of Gabriel Perry (1935) as Mrs. Read Man of the Moment (1935) as Roulette Player First a Girl
First a Girl
(1935) as Seraphina King Of The Damned (1935) as Woman on Plane (uncredited) When Knights Were Bold (1936) as Aunt Esther Pot Luck (1936) as Mrs. Cream Tudor Rose (1936) as Jane's Mother The Interrupted Honeymoon
The Interrupted Honeymoon
(1936) as Nora Briggs The Beloved Vagabond (1936) as Lady with lorgnettes (uncredited) Sabotage (1936) as Miss Chatham - The Professor's Daughter (uncredited) The Mill on the Floss (1936) as Mrs. Glegg Good Morning, Boys (1937) as Lady Bogshott Farewell Again (1937) as Adela Swayle Paradise for Two (1937) as Mme. Bernard (uncredited) Second Best Bed
Second Best Bed
(1938) as Mrs. Mather Strange Boarders
Strange Boarders
(1938) as Miss Pitter Prison Without Bars
Prison Without Bars
(1938) as Mme. Appel Everything Happens to Me (1938) Trouble Brewing (1939) as Madame Berdi The Nursemaid Who Disappeared (1939) as Lady Alice Ballister A Girl Must Live
A Girl Must Live
(1939) as Mme. Dupont, assistant Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) as British Tourist on Bicycle (uncredited) Young Man's Fancy (1939) as Duchess of Beaumont Old Mother Riley Joins Up
Old Mother Riley Joins Up
(1939) as Commandant At the Villa Rose (1940) as Helen Vaquier The Middle Watch (1940) as Lady Elizabeth Hewett The Good Old Days (1940) as Sara Macaulay Tilly of Bloomsbury (1940) as Lady Marion Mainwaring Freedom Radio (1941) as Frau Lehmann the Concierge Quiet Wedding
Quiet Wedding
(1941) as Mme. Mirelle East of Piccadilly
East of Piccadilly
(1941) as Ma The Seventh Survivor (1942) as Mrs. Lindley They Flew Alone
They Flew Alone
(1942) as Miss Bland Lady from Lisbon (1942) as Susan Wellington-Smythe Sabotage at Sea (1942) as Daphne Faber Talk
Talk
about Jacqueline (1942) as Colonel's Wife (uncredited) The Man in Grey
The Man in Grey
(1943) as Miss Patchett Welcome, Mr. Washington (1944) as Miss Finch The Wicked Lady
The Wicked Lady
(1945) as Cousin Agatha Great Expectations (1946) as Miss Havisham The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947) as Lady Mary The Little Ballerina (1947) as Miss Crichton Anna Karenina (1948) as Princess Betty Tversky So Evil My Love
So Evil My Love
(1948) as Mrs. Courtney My Sister and I (1948) as Mrs. Camelot The Fan (1949) as Duchess of Berwick The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men
The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men
(1952) as Queen Eleanor Treasure Hunt (1952) as Aunt Anna Rose Meet Me Tonight
Meet Me Tonight
(1952) as Mabel Grace: Red Peppers It Started in Paradise
It Started in Paradise
(1952) as Mme. Alice Folly to Be Wise
Folly to Be Wise
(1953) as Lady Dodd Melba (1955) as Mme. Marchesi King's Rhapsody (1955) as Queen Mother The March Hare (1956) as Lady Anne Anastasia (1956)
Anastasia (1956)
as Baroness Elena von Livenbaum Three Men in a Boat (1956) as Mrs. Willis The Admirable Crichton (1957) as Lady Brocklehurst Les Espions
Les Espions
(1957) as Connie Harper Dangerous Exile
Dangerous Exile
(1957) as Lady Lydia Fell Bonjour tristesse (1958) as Philippe's Mother Me and the Colonel (1958) as Mother Superior La prima notte (1959) as Lisa Bradwell Bottoms Up (1960) as Lady Gore-Willoughby The Brides of Dracula
The Brides of Dracula
(1960) as Baroness Meinster Song Without End (1960) as Grand Duchess Mr. Topaze
Mr. Topaze
(1961) as Baroness The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm
(1962) as Anna Richter (Story Teller) Becket (1964) as Empress Matilda The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) as Grand Duchess Elise Lupavinova Bunny Lake Is Missing (1965) as Ada Ford The Best House in London
The Best House in London
(1969) as Headmistress (final film role)

References[edit]

^ Roy, Donald (2004). "Hunt, Martita (1900–1969)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. ^ a b Martita Hunt on IMDb ^ Review of Great Expectations, Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 10 December 2014. ^ a b Martita Hunt at the Internet Broadway Database ^ " Gareth Hunt – Obituary". The Times. London, UK. 15 March 2007. 

Sources[edit]

Who Was Who in the Theatre, 1912–1976, 2 (1978), pp. 1241–2 W. Rigdon, The Biographical Encyclopedia (1966), p. 556 D. Quinlan, The Illustrated Directory of Film Character Actors (1985), p. 152 S. D'Amico, ed., Enciclopedia dello spettacolo, 11 vols. (Rome, 1954–68) P. Hartnoll, ed., The Concise Oxford Companion to the Theatre (1972), p. 259 The Times
The Times
(14 June 1969), pp. 1, 10 J. Willis, ed., Theatre World, 26 (1970), pp. 268–9 F. Gaye, ed., Who's Who in the Theatre, 14th edn (1967), pp. 769–70 E. M. Truitt, Who Was Who on Screen, 3rd edn (1983), 360 The Guardian (14 June 1969), p. 5 R. May, A Companion to the Theatre (1973), p. 110 J.-L. Passek, ed., Dictionnaire du cinéma (1991), p. 334

External links[edit]

Biography portal

Martita Hunt on IMDb Martita Hunt at the Internet Broadway Database Donald Roy profile of Martita Hunt, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography Martita Hunt at Find a Grave Martita Hunt Collection is held by the Victoria and Albert Museum Theatre and Performance Department Reference Number(s): THM/132/3 Dates of Creation c. 1910s – 1960s Physical Description: 11 folders.

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WorldCat Identities VIAF: 29735355 LCCN: n91066022 ISNI: 0000 0000 7142 694X GND: 140492925 BNF: cb1405

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