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Way Back When: Helen Hunt, Best Supporting Actress Nominee

Helen Hunt The Sessions
Fox Searchlight

Helen Hunt is nominated for an Oscar for her supporting actress work in ‘The Sessions,’ but we’ve had our eye on her since her days on the sitcom ‘Mad About You.’ In today’s Way Back When, we take a look at the earlier work of this Oscar hopeful.

‘The Swiss Family Robinson’

In this 1975 Disney presentation of the classic story, the Robinson family find themselves shipwrecked on an island and are forced to make the best of the situation by building a new home. Everything is fine until pirates show up to plunder the island for treasure. It’s one of Helen Hunt’s first roles, and the film special was followed up by a short-lived series. Check her out in the opening sequence below:

‘Having Babies’

This 1976 film tells the story of four couples who are having babies and the ways their lives intertwine. It’s sort of like ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting,’ vintage-style. Helen Hunt has a small part as the daughter of one of the couples, starring alongside an amazing cast that includes Jessica Walter, Abe Vigoda, Desi Arnaz Jr., Adrienne Barbeau, Ronny Cox, Vicki Lawrence and Richard Masur. You can spot her around the 0:30 mark, answering the phone:

‘The Fitzpatricks’

This show only ran for one season from 1977-78, and starred Hunt as Kerry Gerardi, a neighbor to the family around whom the show was based. The show follows the Fitzpatricks, your typical Irish-Catholic American family living in the suburbs of Michigan. Hunt may have been a supporting character, but she was featured prominently in the opening credits:

‘The Facts of Life’

On a very special 1980 episode of ‘The Facts of Life,’ Sue Ann and Blair try to join a very exclusive group of girls who spend their spare time smoking pot. Hunt stars as one of the pothead teens in an episode that leads to delightful shenanigans, like Natalie and Tootie coming home with a bag of bongs.

‘Desperate Lives’

This is one of the most ridiculous anti-drug movies ever — Diana Scarwid (‘Mommie Dearest’) stars with Helen Hunt in this story about a brother and sister who get into their school drug scene to disastrous results, like Hunt taking Angel Dust and jumping out of a window like a damn maniac:

‘It Takes Two’

Richard Crenna and Patty Duke star as a husband and wife who are too busy with work to look after their teen children, including Helen Hunt, who plays daughter Lisa Quinn, and Anthony Edwards (‘ER’), who plays Andy:

‘Trancers’

A bounty hunter — gloriously named Jack Deth — from the future goes back in time to 1980s LA to chase a bad guy who’s using hypnosis to turn people into zombies. Hunt plays Leena, who’s kind of like Deth’s modern sidekick:

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