If your name is Marsha, there’s a good chance you were named after Marsha Hunt who turned 102 on Oct. 17. Whether you’re named directly or indirectly after the veteran actress probably depends on your age, but nonetheless, Ms. Hunt believes she holds claim to being the first girl named Marsha – at least with that spelling.
As a teenager in New York in the 1930s, she accompanied her mother to the cinema one day to see “No More Ladies” starring Joan Crawford, whose film character was named Marcia. During the movie, Mrs. Hunt whispered to her daughter, “That’s your name.”
This was a surprise to the teen since she had always been called Betty! Hunt related this story to Roger C. Memos, writer, director and producer of the 2015 documentary on Hunt’s life, “Marsha Hunt’s Sweet Adversity,” and to me when I interviewed her in 2014.
As Hunt recalls, her mother later explained a persuasive family member had been concerned, that with a sister named Marjorie, it could be confusing for siblings to grow up with such similar names.
“So poor mother, in her weakened condition, gave in and that night I was renamed Betty,” Hunt explained.
But on hearing the story, teenage ‘Betty’ fell in love with her original name decided if she ever needed a professional name, she would not only adopt it but make sure it was spelled and pronounced unambiguously: M-a-r-s-h-a.
“Who knows how many Marshas have been so named?” asked Hunt. “I would love to find out!”
If readers have stories about themselves or perhaps a parent whose name is Marsha, they can be emailed to Memos (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will share them with Ms. Hunt as she celebrates a very special birthday this year.