''Streetcar,'' ''Apes'' actress Kim Hunter dies. The Oscar winner who played Stella and Dr. Zira was 79

Kim Hunter, the Oscar-winning actress at whom Marlon Brando bellowed ”Stella!” in ”A Streetcar Named Desire,” and whose mate was the similarly simian Roddy McDowall in three ”Planet of the Apes” movies, died Wednesday in New York City at age 79. An actress who triumphed on screen, television, and stage, she succumbed to a heart attack in her apartment above the Cherry Lane Theater, her daughter Kathryn Emmett, told the New York Times.

Hunter created the role of Stella Kowalski opposite Brando’s Stanley in the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ ”Streetcar” in 1947 and reprised the role opposite him in the 1951 film version. Though she won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for that role, her film career failed to take off because she was blacklisted for four years. Though she hadn’t been a member of the Communist Party, she had been a civil rights and peace activist, which led the red-baiting pamphlet Red Channels to name her a Communist sympathizer.

Over the course of her six-decade career, Hunter took character parts and did TV work (she did soap turns on ”Edge of Night” and ”As the World Turns”), and had a guest spot last fall on ”The Education of Max Bickford”), and she enjoyed face time in movies opposite everyone from Brando and Humphrey Bogart (”Deadline U.S.A.”) to Warren Beatty (”Lilith”) and Kevin Spacey (”Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”). But the role she may be best remembered for is one in which moviegoers didn’t see her face, as it was hidden under the chimpanzee makeup she used to play Dr. Zira. She played the sympathetic simian partner of Roddy McDowell’s Cornelius in the 1968 ”Planet of the Apes” and in its first two sequels, ”Beneath the Planet of the Apes” and ”Escape from the Planet of the Apes.” Asked to comment yesterday, Charlton Heston, her costar in the first ”Apes,” told the Associated Press, ”Kim Hunter was a fine actress and a wonderful person. The world has lost a unique talent.”