Aging: Attitude Toward Aging with Marsha Hunt (cont.)

chartres_WebMD: Did you help your husband write toward the end? One of my favorite authors is John Fante, who also went blind, and his wife typed for him when he could not anymore ...

Hunt: No, I didn't. He never asked me to, and he typed like the wind, faster than the keys would handle. He never did, and I think the flow from his mind onto paper, where he could see it, was a necessary process for him. I tried and failed to interest him in computers, and we went together to look at the larger print that some computers could provide, and I think he was afraid that once we had gotten the computers, that his eyes would deteriorate that much more, and he might not be able to make use of it. Alas, he just stopped writing. And I tried coaxing him to talk into a microphone, which then could be typed up. But no, bless his heart, he had his way of working, and when he couldn't work that way anymore, he stopped. I'm sad to say it was a beautiful talent.

Moderator: My wife passed away two years ago, and I've met a woman in my Senior's group whom I'd like to date. But she's afraid of what the neighbors will think. She's very traditional. How can I get her to consider going out for a couple of dates?

Hunt: Oh goodness. What the neighbors will think is one of the most crippling worries I know. There are defenses to be made for some traditions, and there are others very short-sighted, that deny others what should be their right. If she enjoys him, and likes to spend time with him, I hope she'll do it and understand that the time is going by awfully fast. I don't know if the audience is aware that the older we get, the faster the time goes by, and the days are shrinking at an alarming rate. The days are shorter and so use the time -- enjoy it, and the neighbors for all she knows may cheer the fact that she's finding a more rewarding way to spend her time. It couldn't matter less, it seems to me, what neighbors think. What one thinks of oneself is important, so I hope she will be with him, and I wish him more joy.

Moderator: What is the single most important thing to remember as you grow older?

Hunt: I don't have a single, most important thing to cite, but I suppose to make peace with oneself, and accept what can't be changed. For instance, we do stiffen up, and there are things that don't work as well as they used to. Accept what can't be changed, and to improve what can be. Have more fun; it's important to make more younger friends, because it's saddening to see our contemporaries dying. And some are dropping like flies. And of course, I'll miss them, but we need in some protection to cultivate younger friends. They needn't be very young, but just people who are not as far along in life as we are, so there are people we can enjoy and spend time with. We need not be bracketed in age groups; the more we mingle, the better it'll be for us. If we make friends with ourselves, accept who we are and what we are, and enjoy some serenity. That's a rare thing, and it's hard to come by that in younger years. But oh goodness, the reflection... the enjoyment of the sunset, gardening... these things are so rewarding. And we can find those. Even just one friend can fill a life that's lonely. Find what it is to bring comfort and serenity, and share these things.

Moderator: Do you miss acting? Are you currently involved in any acting projects?

Hunt: I'm not sure whether I miss it, because I've been able to fill my life with so many other things. I thought for years, in my youth, that's all I wanted to do... and I'm extremely talented, I was given so many talents when I was born, that I've had a rewarding time of it. I started young at 17, and was given leading roles immediately. I made 62 movies, and upwards of 30 or maybe 40 plays. Lots of television, enormous amounts of radio. I've been fulfilled. Yes, there are lots of performances still in me, but nobody has asked me. But I'm learning so much of the outside world, and finding it stimulating and challenging, that I don't miss it acutely. I did a play a little bit ago, and I hadn't done one for 12 years... but I could. The voice is still there, and it's still strong. And it's directed by my nephew, Allen Hunt, who's a gifted director. We did "On Golden Pond," and if anybody asks me to do something that I'd like to do, I'll do it. In the meantime, or if not, is all that other to turn to and be enriched by.

Moderator: You were involved in the Golden Age of Hollywood. What was that like?

Hunt: It was heaven -- I don't mean that it had no faults, but I did realize that I was lucky in my timing of life, to be involved in a Golden Age. I knew those days were golden; I just didn't know those days were numbered. Who could dream that something that wonderful could come to an end, and it sure did. The loss of a major studio contract system of making movies, has impoverished the entire movie-going public, because each studio gathered people of talents in all the fields of performing, writing, directing, editing, composing, designing, all of these. The best that could be found all over the world were gathered in one studio, and I was blessed to be at MGM... and MGM was the best of them all. I had 7 years at MGM, and 3 years at Paramount. What they did was to nurture a talent, particularly a young one, and they would find roles that would develop, and bring that talent into a full flower. Thus, careers happened. And they grew... in performance, in skill, and it was a wonderful day. It was a Golden Age, and I'm sorry to see it end. But now we have billionaires all around in this economy, and it'd probably take billions to start up a major studio again. I think we may return to that day... Dreamworks is coming together, and very savvy gentlemen at movie-making, and maybe we can see some modified form that will bring back quality productions of films we can care about. There's very little example or role model, as the term now goes, on the screen... everything is the anti-hero, warts and all. We used to have biographies of people who made their lives count in some significant way, and all young America would look at the screen and say, "gee... that's possible." We don't have this; the role models kids speak of now, are rock, music stars, or sports people. That's all they even hear about. And the wonderful lives they never learned about...we need so much on the screen that brings hope and inspiration, and cheer, and gentleness again. I hope I hope, that the pendulum of sensation... of shock and shlock... will swing again to the constructive and beautiful. Meantime, I have to weather this. Speaking of the upper years, which I like as a term rather than "old age", the movie industry has ignored us. And they've lost a huge public. We're the ones who saved up the money; we have the price of admission. The kids going to the movies, are there on our allowance. But oh, most of us in our age have stopped going... unless we hear that there's something really worth seeing. What a pity.


Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!