Marsha Hunt made waves as a model in England by being the first Black model to grace the now-defunct high fashion magazine Queen in the late ’60’s. Hunt modeling and singing career were short-lived, but in that time she and Rolling Stones singer Mick Jagger became the parents to his firstborn daughter, Karis.
Hunt was born April 15, 1946 in Philadelphia, Pa., but considers Kensington, Calif. home after moving there as a teenager. As a student at the University of California at Berkeley, Hunt was involved in protests against the Vietnam War but left the school to pursue other opportunities in London.
Upon landing in the United Kingdom, Hunt, who sported a large Afro, became a darling of the London theater press after her small but standout role in the local production of the renowned musical Hair. This opened up modeling opportunities, such as the Queen cover in 1969. That same year she landed a cover on the British version of Vogue.
.Hunt landed on Jagger’s radar when she was asked to model for a photo shoot for the Rolling Stones’ “Honky Tonk Woman” single. She ultimately turned down the job as she didn’t want to be represented as a Black woman used as a sex object for the band.
This inspired Jagger to pursue Hunt and the pair had a short-lived romance. Hunt says that the Rolling Stones hit “Brown Sugar” was written with her in mind. While Hunt became pregnant with Karis, neither wanted to marry and Mick was a distant father in the early years of her life. But over time, Hunt says that the singer has been a very supportive father to their child, including her in family vacations with her six (now seven) half-siblings and attending both her college graduation and her wedding.
As an icon of the “Black is Beautiful” movement, Hunt’s modeling images are still soul-stirring. Now 70, the cancer survivor’s signature Afro has been replaced with a shaved head, but her natural beauty remains. In recent years, Hunt has become and author and memoirist, releasing the novel Joy in 1990 and non-fiction accounts of her battle with cancer and the sad story of her grandmother’s decades-long incarceration in a mental health facility.
As an author, Hunt has been especially candid about her upbringing, her time in the spotlight, and her battle with cancer, among other revealing details.
Hunt resides in both Ireland and France according to most recent reports.
PHOTO: YouTube screenshot
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