NEW YORK, Sept. 11 (UPI) -- Kim Hunter, who won the supporting actress Oscar in 1951 as the earthy Stella Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire" and connected with a new generation of fans in "Planet of the Apes" in 1968, died Wednesday. She was 79.
Hunter died in her Greenwich Village apartment after an apparent heart attack, according to family members.
Born Janet Cole on Nov. 12, 1922, Hunter received her professional training at the Actors Studio.
She made her Hollywood debut in the 1943 feature "The Seventh Victim," as a naïve woman in the big city who stumbles across a group of devil worshippers. She co-starred the same year with Ginger Rogers in "Tender Comrade" -- about a group of women working in a defense plant and living communally while their husbands were overseas.
The House Un-American Activities Committee later branded the movie as Communist propaganda.
Hunter co-starred with Robert Mitchum ("When Strangers Marry") and David Niven ("A Matter of Life and Death") before scoring her breakthrough role on Broadway in 1947, as the long-suffering wife of the animalistic Stanley Kowalski (Marlon Brando) in Tennessee Williams' Pulitzer Prize-winning play "A Streetcar Named Desire."
The production also featured Jessica Tandy in her Tony-winning performance as the emotionally unstable Blanche DuBois and Karl Malden as Kowalski's mild-mannered friend Mitch.
Hunter, Brando and Malden reprised their roles in director Elia Kazan's movie version, with Vivien Leigh starring as Blanche. All four were nominated for Oscars, and all but Brando won.
Malden told United Press International "Streetcar" was one of the high points of both his and Hunter's careers.
"I think this was her first big Broadway role and it was also mine," said Malden. "We ran together for two years in New York. She was a charming, wonderful gal who was frightened at first, but it didn't take her long to get over it and she was damned good in the part."
Malden never worked with Hunter again after that, but he said they remained friends for years.
"Every time she was in California to do a film she always called," said Malden, "and we always had lunch or dinner together."
Hunter co-starred with Humphrey Bogart in the 1952 crime drama "Deadline U.S.A." but her career was sidetracked when she was blacklisted during the McCarthy era -- the result of being named a Communist-sympathizer by Red Channels, a pamphlet that specialized in trying to uncover Communists and socialists.
In 1964, she was cast with Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg in "Lilith," a drama set in an elite New England sanitarium, and in 1968 Hunter gained fame for a second time as Dr. Zira, a chimpanzee psychiatrist, in the sci-fi classic "Planet of the Apes."
She became an "Apes" fan favorite with lines of dialogue such as: "Gorillas are cruel because they're stupid! All bone and no brain!"
Hunter reprised the role in "Beneath the Planet of the Apes" (1970) and "Escape from the Planet of the Apes" (1971).
In recent years, Hunter co-starred in "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" (1997), and "Here's to Life" (2000), a drama set in a retirement home co-starring Eric McCormick, James Whitmore and Ossie Davis.
Hunter's other Broadway credits including "The Children's Hour" and "The Tender Trap."
On television, she appeared in several daytime dramas, including "The Edge of Night" and "As the World Turns," as well as primetime series including "Mad About You," "L.A. Law" and "Murder She Wrote."