Linda Hunt's Story: How She Become A Hollywood Success Despite Her Disability

Given the under-representation of handicapped actresses and actors, it's no wonder that just four Oscars have been given to persons with visible disabilities: Harold Russell (1947), Linda Hunt (1984), Marlee Matlin (1987), and Dan Keplinger (1999). Right! You're not mistaken, Linda Hunt is one of them.
When it comes to Linda Hunt, we can't stop admiring her successful Hollywood career. Widely renowned for her role on "NCIS: Los Angeles" for over a decade as Hetty Lange, Linda Hunt is a seasoned actress outside of her small screen stardom. And according to The New York Times, the "NCIS: LA" star made history in 1984 when she won Best Supporting Actress for her role as a male character in "The Year of Living Dangerously." However, to become a Hollywood icon that everyone admires, she had to put in a lot of effort compared to other actors.
Curious to learn more about Hunt's journey from a bullied kid to a TV star? Below we have all you need.

Linda Hunt had a challenging upbringing, but with the support of her parents, she was able to overcome all of the obstacles.

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Linda Hunt was born in New Jersey in 1945 and raised in Connecticut by her parents, Elsie and Raymond Hunt. Her parents began to be concerned when she was only six months old. According to The Bulletin, she was not acquiring motor skills at a regular rate. Doctors expected that she would need to be institutionalized.
Hunt's mother was determined to support her baby. Elsie and Raymond encouraged Linda's development via reading and theater. Linda's motor abilities were apparently nearly normal by the time she attended school. Even though Linda struggled in school, her parents were determined to offer her every opportunity in life. They even paid her a private acting coach and sent her to a prestigious boarding school. "I was so lucky my parents were encouraging on every level," she said.
However, this didn't stop her from being teased mercilessly because of her childhood height. As she told The Bulletin, "I was totally alienated by school almost from the first day. I had a bad experience with a teacher and was made to feel stupid." Her peers were also unkind. "Everybody either wanted to take care of me or push me around, you know? I was teased a lot, sure I was, of course," Hunt told CBS News.

Linda feared that her condition would limit her acting opportunities.

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“I knew I wanted to act at an early age. I didn’t realize how difficult it was going to be,” Hunt revealed for a newspaper in 1991. It can be said that Linda Hunt's love of stage and acting came from a very early age. As she explained to The Bulletin, "I'm lucky that I've always known what I wanted to do." Her inspiration came when she was 8 years old and her parents took her to see Peter Pan on Broadway. "Mary Martin, who played Peter was astonishing in her belief in the world she was creating, and that was fascinating to me," Hunt recalled. "She had the power to make others believe what was in her mind." Hunt decided that she would devote her life to the theater. When she told her parents about her passion, they hired voice and acting instructors and sent her to the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago.
That's when her doctor realized she didn't have congenital hypothyroidism, but rather hypopituitary dwarfism, a disorder in which the pituitary gland doesn't produce enough growth hormone. She was 4'9" and weighed barely 80 pounds, and she attempted numerous therapies and drugs for 10 years to better her health, but they didn't work.
During her studies, her lecturers pushed her to pursue directing rather than acting since they believed that as an actor, she would struggle to make a livelihood owing to her disability.

Hunt moved to New York to pursue a job after graduating in her early 20.

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Linda Hunt went to New York after studying acting in high school. She knew she was interested in theater, but she didn't know where to start. "I was young and lost," she explained to The Bulletin. She was so lost that she didn't even contemplate acting. "That would have meant getting an agent and going on auditions," she said. "I wasn't capable of doing any of that. It was truly emotionally beyond me."
Hunt spent her early years in New York making new acquaintances and working backstage at a theater. She was also receiving a variety of hypopituitary dwarfism therapies, all of which were ineffective. Eventually, Hunt began to question herself and wonder if she had actually pursued the right path. She even moved back to her parent's house to regroup.

Linda decided to return to her passion, acting.

Source: East News

Linda Hunt's decision to return home as a young adult felt like an admission of failure at first. However, the change proved to be just what she needed to regain her confidence and passion. She ran across her old acting coach, who revived her early passion for theater. "My acting coach reminded me again about the importance of acting in my life and the knowledge that this was my gift," she explained to The Bulletin. "I had lost myself for a while, and that awareness gave me back to myself." Soon she started reading for parts and sending out resumes.

Linda Hunt began her career with a series of the impressive stage role.

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She made her professional debut in Hamlet and participated in numerous more plays over the next two years. Linda got a call from her agency one day, explaining that director Peter Weir was seeking for someone to play Billy Kwan (a half-Asian male photographer with dwarfism) in the film The Year of Living Dangerously.
“I met the casting director and said, ’You are going to rewrite the male part for a woman, right?’ And he said, ’No.’ I laughed. It was so wonderfully preposterous,” Linda recalled.
But after meeting Peter, she knew she had to play the part. “It was one of those absurd moments in life when you have to go forward into a situation that makes no sense.” Even though it may have seemed ridiculous to her at the time, this part allowed her skill to blossom, and she became the first person to win an Oscar for playing a character of the opposite sex.

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The Oscar win catapulted her into the public eye, and, as she explained, the fame wasn't something she had bargained for. It definitely marked the end of her life as a relatively unknown theater actor.

Despite winning an Academy Award, Linda's life did not change and it did not propel her to the top as much as she desired.

Source: © NCIS: Los Angeles / CBS Television Studios and co-producers

Despite her history-making Oscar win and a few decades of successful film and TV work, in films, she had to settle for supporting roles only. “I am working more than I thought I’d be. I am not working as much as I’d like. I am still feeling enough frustrations about my life and my career that I am in analysis now — but not forever. I go into moments of total despair and darkness. Thankfully, I believe there are always answers,” she revealed in a candid interview.
Even though her career did not take off as she had hoped, she is now one of Hollywood's most famous figures. She has starred in films such as Dune, Kindergarten Cop, Dragonfly, and others. She also had a successful career in voice-over work in television, most notably on the TV show NCIS: Los Angeles, for which she won two Teen Choice Awards.
After all, Linda Hunt shows that everything is possible with a positive attitude, hard effort, and dedication.
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