A lot of people may not know who Marsha Hunt is. I also only vaguely knew who she was until a few weeks ago. Marsha is not only a singer, novelist, actress and model, she is also the mother to Karis Jagger – Mick Jagger’s first child. Isn’t that shocking? Now if you don’t know who Mick Jagger is…you must be living under a rock. Only a handful of people are made a Knight Bachelor for services to music and this is what happened to Mick in 2003, when The Prince of Wales confirmed him as Sir Michael Jagger.. Yes, I am still referring to Sir Michael Philip Jagger. What a lot of people do not know, is the story behind his relationship with Marsha Hunt and their daughter Karis.
Marsha had a very humble beginning and was primarily raised by her mother, aunt and grandmother whom she described as being:
“My mother Ikey was extremely intelligent and education-minded, my Aunt Thelma was extremely Catholic but very glamorous, and my grandmother Edna was the extreme aggressive…ass-kicking independent Southern woman.”
In 1996 she moved to London because she felt anything was possible there. It was during her stay there, that she met musician Mike Ratledge of the Soft Machine; their relationship would eventually end in marriage. Ratledge and Hunt were married on April 15, 1967. Marsha states:
“Mike and I never held hands and never kissed but …he comes for Easter and that’s what we called married…”
Although Marsha doesn’t consider herself very musical, she achieved national fame in England when she appeared as “Dionne” in the rock musical Hair, a box office smash on The London Stage. She only had two lines of dialog in Hair, but she attracted a lot of media attention and her photograph appeared in many newspapers and magazines.
Her photograph was used on the poster and playbill of the original London production, photographed by Justin de Villeneuve. She says that the role was a perfect fit for her, expressing who she actually was.
She was also one of only three Americans featured in the London show. Although she did not have a contract to perform, when the show opened she was featured in so many stories that she was offered a contract right away. I guess it doesn’t hurt to be beautiful and talented at the same time.
Three months after the rock musical opened, Marsha was on the cover of one of British’ high fashion magazine Queen – the first black model to appear on their cover. In 1968, Hunt posed nude for royal photographer Patrick Lichfield the 5th Earl of Lichfield after opening night for the rock musical Hair, and the photo appeared on the cover of British Vogue’s January 1969 issue (view photograph on the left).
During her modeling days, she was a muse for some of Europe’s legendary photographers such as Lewis Morley, Horace Ove, and Robert Taylor.
Ms. Hunt would met the father of her daughter Karis Jagger in1969. She recalls her first encounter with Mick when the Rolling Stones asked her to pose for an ad for “Honky Tonk Women“, which she refused to do because she “didn’t want to look like [she’d] just been had by all the Rolling Stones.” Mick later called her and that phone call paved the way to their relationship.
In London, November 1970, Marsha gave birth to Jagger’s first and her only child, Karis. According to her, the pair planned the child but never intended to live together.
Although the relationship is considered an affair, Marsha explains they were in love but didn’t feel they would last long enough to get married (view the photograph of Karis on her wedding day above).
Marsha has tried her hand at different professions aside from music which include theater acting and novel writing. However, her battle with cancer changed her perspective on life.
In late 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and told to have surgery to remove her right breast and her lymph nodes. She postponed seeking treatment for five months, later wondering if she would have faced first stage rather than third stage cancer had she not. When she chose to have surgery, she decided to have it done in Ireland, because she felt that the Irish are more supportive and comfortable with illness whereas in the USA her treatment would have been impersonal.
Marsha decided to have a complete mastectomy with no following reconstruction. She says:
“Reconstruction – as if the breast is miraculously put back to the way it was. In fact, pretty much all you get is your cleavage back; you don’t get any feeling or sensitivity…. They take muscles from your back, skin from your thighs, fat from your stomach. You had a breast removed, but the rest of you was fine. Now half your body is hacked about – and for what?”
It is said that on the the day of her operation she wrote a note on her breast to the surgical team, telling them to have fun and to make sure they took the right breast off and drew them a flower.
Once the operation was over she said she did not mourn the loss of her breast, but felt happiness that the cancer had been removed. She emphasizes positive action and states that the surgery left her a “battle scar” that makes her feel sexier, as it is a memento of what she has survived. What a survivor. Destiny’s Child said their song ‘Survivor’ for the likes of you.
This 66 year old KolorBlind Rock Mom and Survivor enjoys the solitude of living on her own and finds that being single means she has encounters and experiences that she wouldn’t have if she were part of a couple, where others might choose not to intrude and where she would have to coordinate her schedule with another.
She has lived in Ireland since 1995. She also lives in France where she owns a home in the countryside about 60 miles from Paris.
Kudos to this survivor, woman, mother, sister, friend, artist and writer. I feel privileged sharing your story with the world. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading today’s Spotlight: Marsha Hunt – model, actress and KolorBlind Rock Mom…
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- Mick Jagger’s Love Letters to Marsha Hunt Up for Auction (aceshowbiz.com)