Merle Oberon a Golden Age actress best known for her roles in such 1930s classics as Wuthering Heights, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and The Private Life of Henry VIII. While Merle was an acclaimed actress during her time, she took many secrets with her to her grave. One of these secrets was her Indian heritage, which she hid from the public to avoid racial discrimination. Another one of these secrets the fact that Merle’s face was scarred as a result of a tragic car accident midway through her career. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Merle Oberon hid her facial scars after the tragic accident.
Merle Oberon Had a Dark Secret
Merle Oberon a Golden Age actress that, for a time, considered one of the most beautiful actresses in all of Hollywood. However, there were several secrets that Merle was hiding from the general public that may have swayed this public opinion. Merle was born in 1911, and the circumstances of her birth remained largely unknown throughout most of the actress’s life. The real life story of the actress not revealed to the public until several years after her death. The two biggest secrets that Merle kept from the public during her lifetime were her Indian heritage. And the fact that she had numerous scars on her face from a tragic accident that occurred halfway through her career.
In her career, one of Merle’s most prominent roles that of the character of Catchy in the 1939 Hollywood adaptation of Wuthering Heights. This one of numerous film roles that saw the Indian actress successfully pass as white in the eyes of both the entertainment industry and the audience. There was a good reason that Merle hid her Indian heritage, and it wasn’t because she was ashamed of it. The actress simply aware that there’s no room in Hollywood at the time for anyone with a non-white background.
It wasn’t all that hard for Merle Oberon to pass as white. Specifically in the days when there wasn’t any color on the screen. The actress did look white. But those who knew about her Indian heritage would able to notice some of the actress’s more distinct features. Merle’s mother had been Indian, while her father had been British. The race of her mother wasn’t the only secret about Merle’s birth that was hid from the public over the course of the actress’s life. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Merle Oberon hid her facial scars after the tragic accident.
Merle Became an Actress as a Teenager
Merle set her sights on performing during her teenage years, and moved to London at the age of only 17. It was there that she found by a British director by the name of Alexander Korda, who would go on to cast Merle in her first big film. Not only that, but Alexander would also go on to become Merle’s first husband. The film that Alexander cast Merle in The Private Life of Henry VIII, which released in 1933. The film proved a success, and showed that Merle Oberon had potential as Hollywood’s newest leading lady.
Following her appearance in The Private Life of Henry VIII, Merle could seen in such features as The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Dark Angel. The latter picture saw Merle receive a much-deserved Academy Award nomination. Which was the only nomination that she received over the course of her lifetime. Another notable pictures that Merle appeared in over the course of her early career included A Song to Remember and That Uncertain Feeling.
It has been said that director Alexander Korda’s the one who helped Merle Oberon concoct the story that would hide her true racial heritage from the public. The story went that she was born in Tasmania to British parents who passed away. Leaving her to be raised by wealthy Indian godparents. This story proved palatable amongst the actress’s fans, and few ever questioned the truth of it. However, the Indian heritage of her mother wasn’t the only thing about Merle’s origin that the public wasn’t aware of. In fact, there was something about her birth that Merle herself wasn’t aware of throughout most of her life. And that was the true identity of her mother.
Besides Merle’s Indian heritage, the other fact about Merle’s birth that obscured from the public throughout the actress’s life was the fact that her mother was only 12 years old when she was born. It’s also uncertain whether or not the man that Merle believed was her father was actually her father, though he could’ve been. The woman who listed on Merle’s birth certificate was actually the actress’s grandmother, who was 26 years old at the time of Merle’s birth.
This means that Merle’s grandmother had her mother when she herself was only 14 years old. Proving that women in this family liked to have kid at a pretty young age! Merle wouldn’t find out about the true identity of her mother until later in her life. If you’re enjoying this video so far, be sure to hit the like button to show your support! Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Merle Oberon hid her facial scars after the tragic accident. Also, subscribe to the channel if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!
Merle Scared of the Truth
Merle Oberon grew up believing that her mother was her sister, and that a man who perhaps a random stranger had been her father. The man that Merle believed was her father died when Merle was still young. Which left her and her supposed aunt and mother to fend for themselves as an impoverished and broken family unit in India. When Merle was born, her family felt that the future actress’s mother was too young. And they didn’t want to garner any controversy. This is why they chose to list Merle’s grandmother as the mother on the young girl’s birth certificate. It wouldn’t be until way later in Merle’s life that the actress learned the truth.
Merle’s true mother went on to have more kids after she was born, and it was one of these kids that later spilled the beans to Merle the truth about her birth. These kids grew up thinking that Merle was their aunt. And they were shocked to learn that she was actually their sister. Merle was similarly shocked to learn the truth. And likely remained in denial about it until her death. Those the truth was revealed to Merle by her stepsibling. Merle refused to see said stepsibling and kept them at a distance for the rest of her life. It’s unclear if Merle was unwilling to learn the truth about her birth, or if she just didn’t care after a lifetime of keeping so much about her personal life a secret.
Merle Oberon’s first hit films were all British. Though the actress went on to receive greater fame when she came overseas and made a name for herself in Hollywood proper. Merle came to Hollywood at the age of 24. And she subsequently given a contract with producer Samuel Goldwyn. Samuel Goldwyn cast the actress in the film The Dark Angel, which netted her the aforementioned Academy Award nomination. The actress had certainly come a long way to get where she was. And her obscured heritage made her the first Indian actress to be nominated for an Academy Award. After the aforementioned death of the man that she believed her father, Merle lived a life of poverty and hardship before finally striking it big as a Hollywood star. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Merle Oberon hid her facial scars after the tragic accident.
Alexander Korda Was the First of Merle’s Husbands
Despite Merle not being born into the nicest situation. The young girl tried her hardest in school and was able to receive a nice scholarship to a private academy. This ended up being a fairly miserable experience for Merle. However, as the kids at the school bullied Merle about both her mixed heritage and her dead father. Merle eventually decided to drop out and be homeschooled by the woman she still believed to be her mother. But who actually her grandmother. Merle got into acting thanks to a British man by the name of Ben Finney. Ben was originally Merle’s boyfriend, though he broke up with her once he realized that her mom was Indian. Still, the two remained friends, and it was through Ben’s connection that Merle first started getting work as an actress. Once Merle got in touch with the aforementioned Alexander Korda, the rest was history!
Alexander Korda was the first of four spouses that Merle had over the course of her lifetime. The two married from 1939 to 1945, though they had an on-and-off-again relationship for many years prior to finally tying the knot. Following her divorce from Alexander, Merle married a cinematographer by the name of Lucien Ballard. Lucien Ballard helped Merle hide yet another secret that she kept from the public over the course of her lifetime. This secret was that the actress’s face scared during a tragic car accident.
After Merle’s face scarred in a tragic car accident during the mid-1930s, the actress thought she was never going to work again. However, cinematographer Lucien Ballard ended up inventing a special light just for Merle that made her scars barely visible to the camera. Merle so impressed by Lucien’s work that she divorced her first husband and married him instead. However, Merle and Lucien’s marriage was even shorter than the actress’s first one. After tying the knot in 1945, the two divorced in 1949.
Merle then married two more times before her 1979 death. Merle’s third husband was an Italian businessman by the name of Bruno Pagliai that she attempted to start an adopted family with. This marriage lasted from 1957 to 1973, making it the longest marriage of Merle’s life. Join Facts Verse as we take a look at how Merle Oberon hid her facial scars after the tragic accident.
Merle’s final husband actor Robert Wolders, and they married from 1975 until Merle’s death from a stroke in 1979. Following Merle’s death, Robert went on to marry Audrey Hepburn. Besides her four husbands, Merle was also romantically linked to John Wayne during her lifetime.
Merle Oberon considered one of the most beautiful actresses of Hollywood’s Golden Age. But the actress’s fame came at the cost of her own identity. Now it’s time to hear from you: did you know that Golden Age actress Merle Oberon had an affair with John Wayne. And that she hid her Indian heritage from the public? As always, like this video to show your support, and subscribe and hit the notification bell if you’d like to be among the first to know when more Facts Verse videos are on their way!