Death of Two Giants: Hunter, Unitas

updated 09/12/2002 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/12/2002 01:35PM

The worlds of acting and football lost two all-stars Wednesday while the nation was mourning the events of the year before.

Oscar-winning actress Kim Hunter, 79, -- the "Stella" that Marlon Brando so memorably yelled for in "A Streetcar Named Desire" -- died of an apparent heart attack in her Greenwich Village, New York, apartment, her daughter, Kathryn Emmett, told the Associated Press.

Baltimore quarterback Johnny Unitas, 69, the Hall-of-Famer who broke nearly every NFL passing record and won three championships with the Colts in an 18-year career (he retired in 1973), had a heart attack while working out at a physical therapy center in the Baltimore suburb of Timonium, according to Vivienne Stearns-Elliott, a spokeswoman for St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson.

Hunter, meanwhile, is perhaps best remembered for her role as Stella Kowalski, sister to the delicate Blanche DuBois and wife to the earthy Stanley, in both the 1947 Broadway version of the Tennessee Williams classic and the 1951 movie version of "Streetcar," which earned her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress.

She went on to costar with Charlton Heston in 1968's "Planet of the Apes," playing the kindly chimp Dr. Zira.

"Kim Hunter was a fine actress and a wonderful person," Heston told the AP.

Hunter was married to William Baldwin in 1944; they had a daughter, and divorced in 1946. In 1951, she married actor and producer Robert Emett, with whom she sometimes costarred in plays. They had a son.

"Johnny U," with his trademark crewcut and black hightops, was a pure dropback passer with an uncanny knack for making the big play -- as noted by his being the first to throw for 40,000 yards. He now ranks seventh, surpassed by a group of quarterbacks who played after him, with rules that make passing easier.

The hero who helped popularize football with the American public is survived by two sons, Kenneth and John Jr.

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