Merle Oberon

Merle Oberon (February 19, 1911 - November 23, 1979), born Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson, was a film actress, known for her sultry looks.

Born in Bombay, India to an Anglo-Irish father and an Anglo-Sinhalese mother, Constance Selby, who gave birth to Merle at the age of 15 and allowed her to be raised as her sister, Merle came to England for the first time in 1928. Initially she worked as a club hostess under the name Queenie O'Brien and played in minor and unbilled rolls in various films. Her first major film role was as Anne Boleyn in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). In 1934, she played the female lead in The Scarlet Pimpernel, opposite Leslie Howard.

Oberon's career went on to greater heights partly as a result of her relationship with and later marriage to director Alexander Korda, who had persuaded her to take the name under which she became famous. She received her only Academy Award for Best Actress nomination for The Dark Angel (1935). She was to star in Korda's film of I, Claudius (1937) as Messalina, but a serious car accident resulted in filming being abandoned. Merle Oberon was scarred for life, but skilled lighting technicians prevented her injuries being spotted by cinema audiences. She went on to appear as Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1939), as George Sand in A Song to Remember (1945), and as Empress Josephine in Désirée (1954). During her time as a film star, Oberon went to great lengths to disguise her mixed-race background and when her dark-skinned mother moved in with her in Hollywood, she masqueraded as Oberon's maid.

Merle Oberon divorced Sir Alexander Korda in 1945, to marry cinematographer Lucien Ballard. She married twice more, to Italian-born Mexican industrialist Bruno Pagliai (two adopted children) and Dutch actor Robert Wolders, before her retirement to Malibu, California, where she died after suffering a stroke. She was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to Motion Pictures, at 6250 Hollywood Boulevard.

Throughout her life, Oberon maintained that she had been born in Tasmania, Australia. It was only after her death that this was revealed to have been a fabrication.


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It was only after her death that this was revealed to have been a fabrication. Powell lives in Connecticut, USA, with her fifth husband, Dick Moore, and still performs today. Throughout her life, Oberon maintained that she had been born in Tasmania, Australia. Her stage roles include "South Pacific", "The Sound of Music", "Oklahoma!", "My Fair Lady", "Carousel", "The Girl Next Door and How She Grew", and "Irene". She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for her contributions to Motion Pictures, at 6250 Hollywood Boulevard. Since then Powell has continued to work in television, radio, and live performances. She was interred in the Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California. By the end of the 1950s, Hollywood musicals began to lose popularity, and her film career ended.

She married twice more, to Italian-born Mexican industrialist Bruno Pagliai (two adopted children) and Dutch actor Robert Wolders, before her retirement to Malibu, California, where she died after suffering a stroke. Her other films include: Rich, Young and Pretty (1951), Small Town Girl (1953), Three Sailors and a Girl (1953), Athena (1954), Deep in My Heart (1954), Hit the Deck (1955), and The Girl Most Likely (1957). Merle Oberon divorced Sir Alexander Korda in 1945, to marry cinematographer Lucien Ballard. Her best know film is probably Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954), which gave her the opportunity to play a more mature character than previous films. During her time as a film star, Oberon went to great lengths to disguise her mixed-race background and when her dark-skinned mother moved in with her in Hollywood, she masqueraded as Oberon's maid. Powell got the chance to sing and dance with Fred Astaire in Royal Wedding (1951), when she was brought in as a replacement for both June Allyson and Judy Garland. She went on to appear as Cathy in Wuthering Heights (1939), as George Sand in A Song to Remember (1945), and as Empress Josephine in Désirée (1954). Her first MGM musical was Holiday in Mexico (1946), which brought her to the public's attention, and she was later billed as the co-star in several films including A Date With Judy (1948), and Nancy Goes to Rio (1950).

Merle Oberon was scarred for life, but skilled lighting technicians prevented her injuries being spotted by cinema audiences. She appeared in her first film, Song of the Open Road (1944), at age 15. She was to star in Korda's film of I, Claudius (1937) as Messalina, but a serious car accident resulted in filming being abandoned. Born Suzanne Burce in Portland, Oregon, USA, she sang on the radio as a child, and performed in theater before her film career began in 1944. She received her only Academy Award for Best Actress nomination for The Dark Angel (1935). She was the petite blonde with an operatic singing voice in many MGM musicals in the 1940s and 1950s. Oberon's career went on to greater heights partly as a result of her relationship with and later marriage to director Alexander Korda, who had persuaded her to take the name under which she became famous. Jane Powell (born April 1, 1928) is an American actress.

In 1934, she played the female lead in The Scarlet Pimpernel, opposite Leslie Howard. Her first major film role was as Anne Boleyn in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). Initially she worked as a club hostess under the name Queenie O'Brien and played in minor and unbilled rolls in various films. Born in Bombay, India to an Anglo-Irish father and an Anglo-Sinhalese mother, Constance Selby, who gave birth to Merle at the age of 15 and allowed her to be raised as her sister, Merle came to England for the first time in 1928.

Merle Oberon (February 19, 1911 - November 23, 1979), born Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson, was a film actress, known for her sultry looks.

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