What the Hell Happened to Helen Hunt?
Helen Hunt started her career as a child actor in the seventies. After two decades in the business, she finally got cast on a hit TV show. She won the Emmy for four consecutive years and won a Best Actress Oscar during the same time frame. A few years later, she practically disappeared.
What the hell happened?
Helen Hunt started working as an actress in 1973 at the age of 10. As a result, there are a lot of embarrassing photos and clips of Hunt as a child appearing in cheesy 70s TV movies.
If you have ever seen Hunt on a late night talk show, you have probably seen her squirm as they played a clip of her on The Bionic Woman or some other relic of the era. Don’t worry. That won’t stop me from dredging those things up all over again here.
It is not uncommon in these articles for me to skip over some movies or TV shows that weren’t especially important to the subject’s career. In Hunt’s case, I am going to have to skip over dozens of projects. Because she paid her dues and then she paid them some more.
I can’t possibly cover every cheesy TV movie and canceled show. But I will do my best to make sure we hit all the lowlights.
Hunt’s first role was in the 1973 TV movie, Pioneer Woman. Pioneer Woman starred William Shatner rocking a mustache. That alone makes it at least a little awesome.
And here’s Hunt smiling her way through the 1974 Ironside spin-off, Amy Prentiss. Hunt played the title character’s daughter.
The next year, Hunt got a recurring role on the Swiss Family Robinson TV show. Those promotional pictures all look the same. Let’s watch the show’s opening:
I think it’s about time for that Bionic Woman clip, don’t you?
The clip is dubbed over in German. But I don’t think you lose a thing in the translation. The Bionic Woman actually stops a dude with a head of lettuce. I’m sure it was bionic lettuce.
TV in the 70′s was really something. This was a hit show!
In 1982, Hunt appeared in the infamous anti-drug TV movie, Desperate Lives. Be sure to stick around for the end of the trailer to see a hopped-up Hunt hysterically jump out of a window.
Remember kids, just say “no”. I can’t tell you how many drug-related window-jumpings there were at my school in the 80′s.
In ’82, Hunt joined another short-lived TV family for the sitcom It Takes Two. I wonder if the same guy took all these promotional pictures. The cast included Richard Crenna (of Rambo fame), Patty Duke and a pre-ER (and pre-bald spot) Anthony Edwards.
I could go on for pages and pages with this stuff. Hunt appeared in so many TV movies and after-school specials. I remember seeing a lot of them. We watched the anorexia TV movie, The Best Little Girl in the World (starring Jennifer Jason Leigh) in school. And who can forget Hunt as a high school football player in Quarterback Princess? It was based on a true story, you know.
Hunt even starred in an anti-polygamy movie, Child Bride of Short Creek. I would have been about 10 years old at the time. What the hell was I doing watching an anti-polygamy TV movie? I don’t know. But for whatever reason, we watched them all.
Okay, let’s take one more look at Hunt as an alien princess on The Bionic Woman and then we’ll move on.
That was the problem with the failed 2007 Bionic Woman relaunch. Not enough alien princesses.