Writer Anna Graham Hunter is accusing Dustin Hoffman of sexually harassing her when she was a production assistant at 17 on 1985’s ‘Death of a Salesman’. Hoffman’s apologized, but not denied the claims.
When Anna Graham Hunter was a teenager, she had the opportunity to intern on the set of Death of a Salesman, a TV movie filming in Queens, NY in 1985. The movie starred several Hollywood heavyweights, including Dustin Hoffman in the starring role. Hoffman reportedly had a reputation on set for being flirtatious, which everyone laughed off, according Hunter, who wrote an essay about her experience for The Hollywood Reporter. Hoffman allegedly focused a lot of attention on her and other young, female production assistants, according to Hunter. His behavior apparently escalated until it allegedly turned into sexual harassment.
As she put it in her essay, “I loved the attention from Dustin Hoffman. Until I didn’t.” Hunter kept a diary of her first five weeks on set, which she shared in her Hollywood Reporter piece. Hoffman allegedly grabbed her butt, talked about sex in front of her, and flirted. Hoffman told the publication when reached for comment that, “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”
The first week on set, Hunter wrote that Hoffman pressured her into giving him a foot massage in his dressing room on January 28, 1985. Other people, including his young daughter, Jenna Hoffman, were in the room, so Hunter didn’t think anything of it. On January 23, he allegedly openly talked about what types of breasts he liked in front of Hunter, another PA (Elizabeth, name changed), John Malkovich, Stephen Lang and Arthur Miller. On January 28, he allegedly asked Hunter if she’d had sex over the weekend “like I told you.” She said she “cracked up” over the question as they bantered. She had hesitation coming forward with her allegations because, at the time, she was conflicted with her feelings about the attention. Sometimes, she thought it was funny, until it made her uncomfortable.
On January 31, Hunter claims Hoffman told Elizabeth that he wanted “her breasts” for lunch, and allegedly “felt [Hunter’s] ass four times” while walking him to his limo. She says she hit his hands away and called him a “dirty old man.” His alleged reply was “no, I’m a dirty young man.”
On February 4, Hunter went to Hoffman’s dressing room to ask him what he wanted for breakfast. He allegedly told her, in front of his entourage, “I’ll have a hard-boiled egg … and a soft-boiled clitoris.” The alleged comment made Hunter cry in the bathroom. Hunter says she told his assistant, Frankie, about the alleged sexual harassment that had been going on. Hoffman reportedly found out, apologized, said he wouldn’t do it again, and started being incredibly nice to Hunter. However, her supervisor, Brenda (name changed), allegedly told her that, “for the sake of the production we have to sacrifice some of our values and just let it roll over our heads. She said we should try to have a sense of humor and just giggle and slap his hands or something. But that’s when I feel the cheapest, like, ‘Oh, she really likes it.'” Hunter continued, “I laugh at most things because I don’t want to appear hard-nosed, but sometimes I just can’t.”
Her diary ends on February 20, with “No one is 100 percent good or bad. Dustin’s a pig, but I like him a lot.” Hunter followed the diary with a note: “My heart aches. It aches for the teenager who was so thrilled to join a movie star’s party that she gave him a foot rub even though she didn’t want to, even though she tried to protest she wasn’t good at it. My heart aches for the awkward virgin with the bad hair who had only been kissed three times in her life, laughing as the man her father’s age talked about breasts and sex. I want to weep that she found this charming.”
She went on to say that even though she allegedly experienced this sexual harassment, she still likes Hoffman. “Whenever I talk about this, I sense that my listeners want a victim and a villain. And I wish my feelings were as clear as theirs. I would be more comfortable if I felt nothing but revulsion for a man who had power over me and abused it.
“But I still like watching him onscreen. I owned the VHS of Tootsie for a long time and watched it over and over in my 20s and 30s, even as I remembered telling him how disappointed I was, that I expected better of him after that movie. Not long ago I watched All the President’s Men for the first time in years and then texted my sister: Is it weird that I find him kind of sexy in this after what he did?”
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