Kim Hunter, Actress, Died at 79


Kim Hunter died on September 11, 2002 at the age of 79; she was an American film, theatre, and television actress.

Born on November 12, 1922, in 1956, with the HUAC’s influence subsiding, she co-starred in Rod Serling’s Peabody Award winning teleplay on Playhouse 90, Requiem for a Heavyweight.

The telecast won multiple Emmy Award’s, including Best Single Program of the Year. She appeared opposite Mickey Rooney in the 1957 live CBS-TV broadcast of The Comedian, another drama written by Rod Serling and directed by John Frankenheimer.

In 1959 she appeared in Rawhide season 1/16 episode Incident of the Misplaced Indians as Amelia Spaulding. In 1962, she appeared in the NBC medical drama The Eleventh Hour in the role of Virginia Hunter in the episode “Of Roses and Nightingales and Other Lovely Things”.

In 1963, Hunter appeared as Anita Anson on the ABC medical drama Breaking Point in the episode “Crack in an Image”. In 1965, she appeared twice as Emily Field in the NBC TV medical series Dr. Kildare. In 1967, she appeared in the pilot episode of Mannix.

On Feb. 4th 1968, she appeared as Ada Halle in the NBC TV western series Bonanza in the episode “The Price of Salt”.

Her other major film roles include the love interest of David Niven’s character in the film A Matter of Life and Death (1946), and Zira, the sympathetic chimpanzee scientist in the 1968 film Planet of the Apes and two sequels.

She also appeared in several radio and TV soap operas, most notably as Nola Madison on TV’s The Edge of Night, for which she received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series in 1980.

In 1979 she appeared as First Lady Ellen Axson Wilson in the serial drama Backstairs at the White House.

According to an in-depth article on Kim Hunter by Joseph Collura in the October 2009 issue of “Classic Images”, Kim was quiet and painfully shy as a child and overcame it through the guidance of a local dramatics teacher, a Mrs. Carmine. Included were diction, voice and posture lessons.

A one-time student of the Pasadena Playhouse, she was appearing in the 1942 production of “Arsenic and Old Lace” when she was discovered by an RKO talent hunter who signed her to a seven-year contract for David O. Selznick’s company.

Selznick suggested she change her first name to “Kim” and a RKO secretary suggested the last name of “Hunter”.

Although Hunter was initially signed by David O. Selznick, she only did loan-outs for the two years she was under contract.

Her only work inside the Selznick Studio was three days of screen tests for Hitchcock on “Spellbound,” sitting in for Ingrid Bergman as actors were tested for minor roles.

Even though she was only shot from behind her head, she impressed Hitchcock, who had lunch with her. A year later he recommended her to Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger for “A Matter of Life and Death.”.