|Birth Day:||February 19, 1911|
|Death Date:||Nov 23, 1979 (age 68)|
|Height:||in centimeters - N/A|
|Weight:||in kg - N/A|
Star of classic Hollywood films of the 1930s who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in The Dark Angel.
As per our current Database, Merle Oberon died on Nov 23, 1979 (age 68).
Merle Oberon started acting at age 17, taking bit parts, usually uncredited, in various productions.
Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson was born in Bombay, British India, on 19 February 1911. Merle was given "Queenie" as a nickname, in honour of Queen Mary, who visited India along with King George V in 1911.
In 1914, when Merle was 3, Arthur Thompson joined the British Army and later died of pneumonia on the Western Front during the Battle of the Somme. Merle and Charlotte led an impoverished existence in shabby flats in Bombay for a few years. Then, in 1917, they moved to better circumstances in Calcutta (present-day Kolkata). Oberon received a foundation scholarship to attend La Martiniere Calcutta for Girls, one of the best private schools in Calcutta. There, she was constantly taunted for her mixed ethnicity, eventually leading her to quit school and receive lessons at home.
Oberon arrived in England for the first time in 1928, aged 17. Initially she worked as a club hostess under the name Queenie O'Brien and played in minor and unbilled roles in various films. "I couldn't dance or sing or write or paint. The only possible opening seemed to be in some line in which I could use my face. This was, in fact, no better than a hundred other faces, but it did possess a fortunately photogenic quality," she told a journalist at Film Weekly in 1939. In view of the information discovered since this 1939 article (see preceding section) this should be seen as part of a myth perpetrated by Oberon.
In Firpo's, in 1929, Merle met a former actor, Colonel Ben Finney, and dated him; however, when he saw Charlotte one night at her flat, he realized Oberon was of mixed ancestry and ended the relationship. However, Finney promised to introduce her to Rex Ingram of Victorine Studios (whom he had known through his relationship with the late Barbara La Marr), if she was prepared to travel to France, which she readily did. After packing all their belongings and moving to France, Oberon and her mother found that their supposed benefactor avoided them, although he had left a good word for Oberon with Ingram at the studios in Nice. Ingram liked Oberon's exotic appearance and quickly hired her to be an extra in a party scene in a film named The Three Passions.
She was selected to star in Korda's 1937 film, I, Claudius, as Messalina, but her injuries in a car accident resulted in the film being abandoned. She went on to appear as Cathy in the highly acclaimed film Wuthering Heights (opposite Laurence Olivier; 1939), as George Sand in A Song to Remember (1945) and as the Empress Josephine in Désirée (1954).
Oberon's mother, Charlotte Selby, who was actually her birth grandmother, died in 1937. (Merle's biological mother was Charlotte's daughter, Constance, who was 12 years old when Merle was born.) In 1949, Oberon commissioned paintings of Charlotte from an old photograph, which hung in all her homes until Oberon's own death in 1979.
Oberon married director Alexander Korda in 1939. Still married, she had a brief affair in 1941 with Richard Hillary, an RAF fighter pilot who had been badly burned in the Battle of Britain. They met while he was on a goodwill tour of the United States. He later became well known as the author of a best-selling book, The Last Enemy. Oberon had an on-again, off-again affair with actor John Wayne from 1938 to 1947.
According to Princess Merle, the biography written by Charles Higham with Roy Moseley, Oberon suffered damage to her complexion in 1940 from a combination of cosmetic poisoning and an allergic reaction to sulfa drugs. Alexander Korda sent her to a skin specialist in New York City, where she underwent several dermabrasion procedures. The results, however, were only partially successful; without makeup, noticeable pitting and indentation of her skin could be seen.
Oberon became Lady Korda when her husband was knighted in 1942 by George VI for his contribution to the war effort. At the time, the couple were based at Hills House in Denham, England. She divorced him in 1945, to marry cinematographer Lucien Ballard. Ballard devised a special camera light for her to eliminate on film her facial scars suffered in a 1937 accident. The light became known as the "Obie". She and Ballard divorced in 1949.
Oberon next married Italian-born industrialist Bruno Pagliai in 1957, adopted two children with him and lived in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. In 1973, Oberon met then 36-year-old Dutch actor Robert Wolders while they filmed Interval. Oberon divorced Pagliai and married Wolders, who was 25 years her junior, in 1975.
To avoid prejudice over her mixed background, Oberon created a "cover story" of being born and raised in Tasmania, Australia, and her birth records being destroyed in a fire. The story eventually unravelled after her death. Oberon is known to have been to Australia only twice. Her first visit was in 1965, on a film promotion. Although a visit to Hobart was scheduled, after journalists in Sydney pressed her for details of her early life, she became ill and shortly afterwards left for Mexico.
In 1978, the year before her death, she agreed to visit Hobart for a Lord Mayoral reception. The Lord Mayor of Hobart became aware shortly before the reception that there was no proof she had been born in Tasmania but, to save face, went ahead with the reception. Shortly after arriving at the reception, Oberon, however, to the disappointment of many, denied she had been born in Tasmania. She then excused herself, claiming illness, and was unavailable to answer any more questions about her background. On the way to the reception, she had told her driver that as a child she was on a ship with her father, who became ill when it was passing Hobart. They were taken ashore so he could be treated and so she spent some of her early years on the island. During her Hobart stay, she remained in her hotel, gave no other interviews, and did not visit the theatre named in her honour.
Oberon retired after Interval and moved with Wolders to Malibu, California, where she died in 1979, aged 68, after suffering a stroke. Her body was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.
Merle Oberon grew up in British India, though she often claimed she was Australian by birth and upbringing. Merle Oberon married four times and had two kids named Francesca Pagliai and Bruno Pagliali Jr.
Currently, Merle Oberon is 112 years, 1 months and 13 days old. Merle Oberon will celebrate 113th birthday on a Monday 19th of February 2024. Below we countdown to Merle Oberon upcoming birthday.