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Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 08:39 GMT 09:39 UK
Oscar-winning actress Hunter dies
Stars from the original
Kim Hunter (centre) with her Planet of the Apes co-stars
Actress Kim Hunter, who won an Oscar for her role opposite Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire and starred in three Planet of the Apes films, had died aged 79.

She was described as "a fine actress and a wonderful person" by her Planet of the Apes co-star Charlton Heston after her death was announced on Wednesday.

Hunter died from an apparent heart attack in her apartment in Greenwich Village, New York, according to her daughter, Kathryn Emmett.

She will be remembered as a modest actress whose portrayal of Brando's long-suffering wife Stella Kowalski in the 1951 version of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire won her an Oscar for best supporting actress.

She also appeared in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger 's classic 1946 film, A Matter of Life and Death.

Blacklisted

More success came her way 17 years later when she played the sympathetic simian Zira in the original Planet of the Apes film and two sequels.

Born in Detroit, she was on stage at the age of 17 and her film career began as a 21-year-old during World War II.

Her second big screen role, alongside Ginger Rogers in Tender Comrade - about a group of women living in together during the war - led to her being blacklisted in Hollywood after a Communist witch-hunt.

She went on to star as Stella Kowalski in the original stage version of A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway in 1947 - a role she was asked to reprise for the film.

'Unfair'

The movie's director Elia Kazan wrote in his autobiography: "The minute I saw her I was attracted to her, which is the best possible reaction when casting young women."

She avoided seeing other productions of Streetcar after that, saying she could not be objective about other actors.

"It was so much a part of my life, it would be unfair to the productions and performers," she said in 1999.

She also recalled the frustrations of having to be covered in make-up and hair for Planet of the Apes.

Eyeballs

"It was pretty claustrophobic and painful to a certain extent," she said in 1998.

"The only thing of me that came through was my eyeballs."

Other film roles included 1952's Anything Can Happen, as Humphrey Bogart's wife in 1956's Deadline - USA and with Warren Beatty in 1964's Lilith.

Her last film role was in the drama Here's to Life! in 2000.

See also:

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