Merle Oberon

Merle Oberon


2/19/1911, India



Birth Name

Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson



Also Known As

Queenie Thompson
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Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Merle's injuries in an automobile accident in 1937 gave her then-husband Alexander Korda the excuse needed to cancel his production of I, Claudius, which already was beset with problems in production, including cost over-runs and arguments between him and Charles Laughton, who was to play Claudius.

    • Merle was set to star in The Garden Of Allah (1935) but producer David O'Selznick paid her off to give the role to Marlene Dietrich.

    • Merle was first choice for the role of Fanny Skeffington in Mr. Skeffington (1944) but turned down the part and it went to Bette Davis,

    • Merle went to great lengths to hide her half-Indian heritage for fear of racial persecution, including having her darker-skinned mother pose as her maid when she came to live with her in 1940.

    • Merle appeared in a 1947 magazine ad for Rogers Silverplate silverware.

    • Merle appeared in a magazine advertisement for Richard Hudnut Cosmetics in 1937.

    • Merle went by the name of Queenie Thompson until 1939, when her then-husband Alexander Korda convinced her to change her name.

    • Merle's second husband, cinematographer Lucien Ballard, created a special compact spotlight that mounted on the side of cameras to light Merle's face head on, to reduce the chance of her scars and shadowing from them appearing on film. He named the spotlight "The Obie," after her last name, and it is still in use today.

    • Merle was married 4 times; to Alexander Korda from 1939 to 1945, Lucien Ballard from 1945 to 1949, to Bruno Pagliai from 1957 to 1973, and to Robert Wolders, from 1975 to her death in 1979.

    • Merle suffered damage to her face twice, in an automobile accident in 1937 and in 1940 from cosmetic poisoning and an allergic reaction to sulfa drugs. Film makers hid this fact from the public using special lighting and make-up for her.

    • Merle appeared in magazine advertisments for Woodbury cold cream in 1941.

    • Merle appeared in magazine advertisments for Woodbury cold cream in 1941.

    • Merle appeared in a 1943 magazine advertisement for Royal Crown Cola which detailed the story of her flying to England on a bomber.

    • Merle appeared in magazine ads for Lux Soap in 1942.

    • Merle appeared in a magazine ad for Calox toothpaste in 1944.

    • Merle's measurements: 33 1/2-24-35 (Source: Celebrity Sleuth magazine)

    • Merle was nominated for the Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar for The Dark Angel (1935).

    • Merle has a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame at 6250 Hollywood Boulevard.

    • Merle was 5 feet 2 inches tall.

  • Quotes

    • Merle Oberon: Even when I was single, I owned homes and gardens. I buy beauty when other women buy jewels. Land is security to me. I need gardens that are mine to walk on.

    • Merle Oberon: Without security it is difficult for a woman to look or feel beautiful.