This vivacious, brunette will forever be remembered for her Oscar-winning role as Stella Kowalski in Elia Kazan's "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951), a role she had originated on Broadway. Kim Hunter has also amassed an impressive list of stage and television credits in a career that has spanned over 50 years.
Although born in Detroit, Michigan, Hunter was raised in the Miami, Florida, area. While still a teenager, she made her stage debut in a local production, was spotted by talent scouts and put under contract by film producer David O Selznick. After arriving in Hollywood, she was loaned out for her first film, the offbeat thriller "The Seventh Victim" (1943), which found her cast as a naive girl who stumbles upon devil worshipers in NYC's Greenwich Village. The same year, Hunter was cast in Edward Dmytryk's "Tender Comrade", a Ginger Rogers vehicle about women who live communally during WWII. Partly as a result of her participation in this film, Hunter's name appeared in "Red Channels", a pamphlet listing those with alleged Communist sympathies, that led to her being blacklisted in the 1950s.
Prior to this, however, Hunter had turned in several fine performances. She was a bride with suspicions that her husband (Dean Jagger) may be a murderer in "When Strangers Marry" (1944) and an American WAC in love with a British pilot (David Niven) in the Michael Powell-Emeric Pressburger classic "A Matter of Life and Death/Stairway to Heaven" (1946). After recreating her stage triumph in "Streetcar", Hunter had a strong role as the ex-wife of newspaper editor Humphrey Bogart in Richard Brooks' "Deadline U.S.A." (1952). As the blacklisting faded, she began to occasional film work delivering strong portrayals of a rebellious teenager's concerned mother in "The Young Stranger" (1957) and especially as the head of a mental institution in Robert Rossen's "Lilith" (1964). She also shone alongside Roddy McDowall in "Planet of the Apes" (1968) and lesser so in its to sequels. Her last film role to date was as murderer Harvey Keitel's interfering neighbor in the Dario Argento-directed segment of "Two Evil Eyes" (1990).
On stage, Hunter has worked constantly throughout the US since her 1947 Broadway debut in "Streetcar". Among her numerous credits are the Broadway productions of "Darkness at Noon" (1951), "The Children's Hour" (1952), "The Penny Wars" (1969) and "To Grandmother's House We Go" (1981), with Eva Le Gallienne. Hunter has appeared in regional productions in such roles as Eleanor of Aquitaine in "The Lion in Winter", Emily Dickinson in the one-woman show "The Belle of Amherst" and in the title role of "Driving Miss Daisy". In 1996, she returned to the Ethel Barrymore Theater on Broadway where "Streetcar" had premiered to appear as Lady Markby in a revival of Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband".
Hunter's small screen credits are also numerous, dating from her first appearances as a recurring player on "Actors Studio" (ABC, 1948-49; CBS, 1949-50). She has gone from playing the ingenue (as in the 1949 CBS production of "Little Women") to leading lady (i.e., "The Comedian", CBS 1957) to character roles ("Skokie", CBS 1981). Hunter has made guest appearances on numerous shows from an Emmy-nominated appearance on "Baretta" to the NBC sitcom "Mad About You". Her only series role was as Nola Madison on the ABC daytime drama "The Edge of Night" (1979-80), which also was Emmy-nominated.