|Born||December 10, 1903|
Covington, Kentucky, U.S.
|Died||January 2, 1986 82) (aged|
|Resting place||Highland Cemetery, Fort Mitchell, Kentucky|
(m. 1932;div. 1947)
Una Merkel (December 10, 1903 – January 2, 1986) was an American stage, film, radio, and television actress.
Merkel was born in Kentucky and acted on stage in New York in the 1920s. She went to Hollywood in 1930 and became a popular film actress. Two of her best-known performances are in the films 42nd Street and Destry Rides Again . She won a Tony Award in 1956 and was nominated for an Oscar in 1961.
Merkel was born in Covington, Kentucky, to Bessie ( née Phares) and Arno Merkel.In her early childhood, she lived in many of the Southern United States due to her father's job as a traveling salesman. At the age of 15, she and her parents moved to Philadelphia. They stayed there a year or so before settling in New York City, where she began attending the Alviene School of Dramatic Art.
Because of her strong resemblance to actress Lillian Gish, Merkel was offered a part as Gish's youngest sister in a silent film called World Shadows. However, the funding for the film dried up and it was never completed. Merkel went on to appear in a few silent movies, several of them for the Lee Bradford Corporation. She also appeared in the two-reel Love's Old Sweet Song (1923), which was made by Lee de Forest in his Phonofilm sound-on-film process and starred Louis Wolheim and Helen Weir. Not making much of a mark in films, Merkel turned her attention to the theater and found work in several important plays on Broadway. Her biggest triumph was in Coquette (1927), which starred her idol, Helen Hayes.
Invited to Hollywood by famous director D. W. Griffith to play Ann Rutledge in his film Abraham Lincoln (1930), Merkel became a big success in sound films. During the 1930s, she became a popular second lead in a number of films, usually playing the wisecracking best friend of the heroine, supporting actresses such as Jean Harlow, Carole Lombard, Loretta Young, and Eleanor Powell.
Merkel was known for her Kewpie-doll looks, strong Southern accent, and wry line delivery. She played Sam Spade's secretary in the original 1931 version of The Maltese Falcon . Merkel was a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player from 1932 to 1938, appearing in as many as 12 films in a year, often on loan-out to other studios. She was also often cast as leading lady opposite Jack Benny, Harold Lloyd, Franchot Tone, and Charles Butterworth, among others.
In 42nd Street (1933), Merkel played a streetwise show girl. In the famous "Shuffle Off to Buffalo" number, Merkel and Rogers sang the verse: "Matrimony is baloney. She'll be wanting alimony in a year or so./Still they go and shuffle, shuffle off to Buffalo." Merkel appeared in both the 1934 and the 1952 film versions of The Merry Widow , playing different roles.
One of her most famous roles was in the Western comedy Destry Rides Again (1939), in which her character, Lily Belle, gets into a famous "cat-fight" with Frenchie (Marlene Dietrich) over the possession of her husband's trousers, won by Frenchie in a crooked card game. She played the elder daughter to the W. C. Fields character, Egbert Sousé, in the 1940 film The Bank Dick . Her film career went into decline during the 1940s, although she continued working in smaller productions. In 1950, she starred with William Bendix in the baseball comedy Kill the Umpire , which was a surprise hit.
She made a comeback as a middle-aged woman playing mothers and maiden aunts, and in 1956 won a Tony Award for her role on Broadway in The Ponder Heart, adapted from the novella of the same name. She had a major part in the MGM 1959 film The Mating Game as Paul Douglas's character's wife and Debbie Reynolds' character's mother, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in Summer and Smoke (1961). She was also featured as Brian Keith's character's housekeeper, Verbena, in the Walt Disney comedy The Parent Trap in 1961. Her final film role was opposite Elvis Presley in Spinout (1966).
On March 5, 1945, Merkel was nearly killed when her mother Bessie, with whom she shared an apartment in New York City, died by suicide by gassing herself. Merkel was overcome by the five gas jets her mother had turned on in their kitchen and was found unconscious in her bedroom.
On March 4, 1952, seven years almost to the day after her mother died, Merkel overdosed on sleeping pills.She was found unconscious by a nurse who was caring for her at the time and remained in a coma for a day before recovering.
Merkel was a lifelong Methodist.
Merkel was married once and had no children.She married North American Aviation executive Ronald L. Burla in 1932. They separated in April 1944. Merkel filed for divorce on December 19, 1946 in Miami, and it was granted in March 1947.
On January 2, 1986, Merkel died in Los Angeles at the age of 82.She is buried near her parents, Arno and Bessie Merkel, in Highland Cemetery in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky.
For her contribution to the motion picture industry, Una Merkel has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (6230 Hollywood Boulevard).In 1991, a historical marker was dedicated to her in her hometown of Covington.
|1923||Love's Old Sweet Song||Short|
|1924||The Fifth Horseman||Dorothy|
|1930||Abraham Lincoln||Ann Rutledge|
|1930||The Eyes of the World||Sybil|
|1930||The Bat Whispers||Dale Van Gorder|
|1931||Command Performance||Princess Katerina|
|1931||Don't Bet on Women||Tallulah Hope|
|1931||Six Cylinder Love||Margaret Rogers|
|1931||The Maltese Falcon||Effie Perine|
|1931||Daddy Long Legs||Sally McBride|
|1931||The Secret Witness||Lois Martin|
|1932||She Wanted a Millionaire||Mary Taylor|
|1932||The Impatient Maiden||Betty Merrick|
|1932||Man Wanted||Ruth 'Ruthie' Holman|
|1932||They Call It Sin||Dixie Dare|
|1932||Men Are Such Fools||Molly|
|1933||Whistling in the Dark||Toby Van Buren|
|1933||The Secret of Madame Blanche||Ella|
|1933||42nd Street||Lorraine Fleming|
|1933||Clear All Wires!||Dolly|
|1933||Reunion in Vienna||Ilsa Hinrich|
|1933||Her First Mate||Hattie|
|1933||Broadway to Hollywood||Flirt in Audience||Uncredited|
|1933||Beauty for Sale||Carol Merrick|
|1933||Menu||Mrs. Omsk||Short, uncredited|
|1933||Day of Reckoning||Mamie|
|1933||The Women in His Life||Miss 'Simmy' Simmons|
|1934||This Side of Heaven||Birdie|
|1934||Murder in the Private Car||Georgia Latham|
|1934||The Cat's-Paw||Pet Pratt|
|1934||Bulldog Drummond Strikes Back||Gwen|
|1934||Have a Heart||Joan O'Day|
|1934||The Merry Widow||Queen Dolores|
|1934||Evelyn Prentice||Amy Drexel|
|1935||Biography of a Bachelor Girl||Slade Kinnicott|
|1935||The Night Is Young||Fanni Kerner|
|1935||One New York Night||Phoebe|
|1935||Baby Face Harrington||Millicent|
|1935||Murder in the Fleet||'Toots' Timmons|
|1935||Broadway Melody of 1936||Kitty Corbett|
|1935||It's in the Air||Alice Lane Churchill|
|1936||We Went to College||Susan Standish|
|1936||Born to Dance||Jenny Saks|
|1937||Don't Tell the Wife||Nancy Dorsey|
|1937||The Good Old Soak||Nellie|
|1937||True Confession||Daisy McClure|
|1939||Four Girls in White||Gertie Robbins|
|1939||Some Like It Hot||Flo Saunders|
|1939||On Borrowed Time||Marcia Giles|
|1939||Destry Rides Again||Lily Belle|
|1940||Comin' Round the Mountain||Belinda Watters|
|1940||Sandy Gets Her Man||Nan Clark|
|1940||The Bank Dick||Myrtle Sousé|
|1941||Double Date||Aunt Elsie Kirkland|
|1941||Road to Zanzibar||Julia Quimby|
|1941||Cracked Nuts||Sharon Knight|
|1942||The Mad Doctor of Market Street||Aunt Margaret Wentworth|
|1943||This Is the Army||Rose Dibble|
|1944||To Heir Is Human||Una||Short|
|1944||Sweethearts of the U.S.A.||Patsy Wilkins|
|1947||It's a Joke, Son!||Mrs. Magnolia Claghorn|
|1948||The Bride Goes Wild||Miss Doberly|
|1948||The Man from Texas||Widow Weeks|
|1950||Kill the Umpire||Betty Johnson|
|1950||My Blue Heaven||Miss Irma Gilbert|
|1951||Rich, Young and Pretty||Glynnie|
|1951||A Millionaire for Christy||Patsy Clifford|
|1951||Golden Girl||Mary Ann Crabtree|
|1952||With a Song in My Heart||Sister Marie|
|1952||The Merry Widow||Kitty Riley|
|1953||I Love Melvin||Mom Schneider|
|1955||The Kentuckian||Sophie Wakefield|
|1956||The Kettles in the Ozarks||Miss Bedelia Baines|
|1956||Bundle of Joy||Mrs. Dugan|
|1957||The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown||Bertha|
|1958||The Girl Most Likely||Mother|
|1959||The Mating Game||Ma Larkin|
|1961||The Parent Trap||Verbena|
|1961||Summer and Smoke||Mrs. Winemiller|
|1963||Summer Magic||Mariah Popham|
|1964||A Tiger Walks||Mrs. Watkins|
|1952||Four Star Playhouse||Rose Barton||"My Wife Geraldine"|
|1953||Schlitz Playhouse of Stars||"Guardian of the Clock"|
|1953||Your Jeweler's Showcase||"The Monkey's Paw"|
|1953||Willys Theatre Presenting Ben Hecht's Tales of the City||"Miracle in the Rain"|
|1954||Westinghouse Studio One||Parsis McHugh||"Two Little Minks"|
|1955||Kraft Television Theatre||"Trucks Welcome"|
|1956||Calling Terry Conway||Pearl McGrath||TV film|
|1957||Playhouse 90||Louise Hoagland||"The Greer Case"|
|1957||The Red Skelton Show||Mrs. Van Wyck||"Freddie and the Happy Helper"|
|1957||Climax!||Maud||"The Secret of the Red Room"|
|1958||DuPont Show of the Month||Aladdin's Mother||"Cole Porter's 'Aladdin'"|
|1958||The United States Steel Hour||"Flint and Fire"|
|1962||The Real McCoys||Mrs. Gaylord||"The New Housekeeper"|
|1963||The Bill Dana Show||Mrs. Hatten||"The Poker Game"|
|1963–1965||Burke's Law||Clara Lovelace / Mrs. Thomas Barrett / Miss Samantha Cartier||3 episodes|
|1964||The Cara Williams Show||Amelia Hofstetter||"Amelia Hofstetter, Please Go Home"|
|1964||Destry||Granny Farrell||"Law and Order Day"|
|1968||I Spy||Aunt Alma||"Home to Judgment"|
Destry Rides Again is a 1939 American Western film directed by George Marshall and starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart.
Harriet Rene "Khandi" Alexander is an American dancer, choreographer, and actress. She began her career as a dancer in the 1980s and was a choreographer for Whitney Houston's world tours from 1988 to 1992.
Bessie Love was an American-British actress who achieved prominence playing innocent, young girls and wholesome leading ladies in silent and early sound films. Her acting career spanned eight decades—from silent film to sound film, including theatre, radio, and television—and her performance in The Broadway Melody (1929) earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress.
Fay Okell Bainter was an American film and stage actress. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for Jezebel (1938) and has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Lillian Diana Gish was an American actress, director and screenwriter. Her film acting career spanned 75 years, from 1912, in silent film shorts, to 1987. Gish was called "The First Lady of American Cinema", and is credited with pioneering fundamental film performance techniques.
Dorothy Elizabeth Gish was an American actress of the screen and stage, as well as a director and writer. Dorothy and her older sister Lillian Gish were major movie stars of the silent era. Dorothy also had great success on the stage, and was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame. Dorothy Gish was noted as a fine comedian, and many of her films were comedies.
Mary Tomlinson, professionally known as Marjorie Main, was an American character actress and singer of the Classical Hollywood period, best known as a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer contract player in the 1940s and 1950s, and for her role as Ma Kettle in ten Ma and Pa Kettle movies. Main started her career in vaudeville and theatre and appeared in films classics, such as Dead End (1937), The Women (1939), Dark Command (1940), The Shepherd of the Hills (1941), Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), and Friendly Persuasion (1956).
Katharine Juliet Ross is an American film, stage, and television actress. Her accolades include one Academy Award nomination, one BAFTA Award, and two Golden Globe Awards. A native of Los Angeles, Ross spent most of her early life in the San Francisco Bay area. After attending Santa Rosa Junior College for one year, Ross joined The Actors Workshop in San Francisco, and began appearing in theatrical productions.
Catherine Josephine Van Fleet was an American stage, film, and television actress. During her long career, which spanned over four decades, she often played characters much older than her actual age. Van Fleet won a Tony Award in 1954 for her performance in the Broadway production The Trip to Bountiful, and the next year she won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her supporting role in East of Eden.
42nd Street is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film directed by Lloyd Bacon, and a script by Rian James and James Seymour, adapted from the 1932 novel of the same name by Bradford Ropes. Starring an ensemble cast of Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers, the film revolved around the rehearsals of a Broadway show at the height of the Great Depression, and its cast and crew. The film was choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin.
Jill Viola Gascoine was an English actress and novelist. She portrayed Detective Inspector Maggie Forbes in the 1980s television series The Gentle Touch and its spin-off series C.A.T.S. Eyes. In the 1990s, she also became a novelist and published three books.
Anne Elizabeth "Annabeth" Gish is an American actress. She has played roles in films Shag, Hiding Out, Mystic Pizza, SLC Punk!, The Last Supper and Double Jeopardy. On television, she played Special Agent Monica Reyes on The X-Files, Elizabeth Bartlet Westin on The West Wing, Diane Gould on Halt and Catch Fire, Eileen Caffee on Brotherhood, Charlotte Millwright on The Bridge and Sheriff Althea Jarry on the seventh and final season of Sons of Anarchy.
Beulah Bondi was an American character actress, she often play eccentric mothers and later grandmothers and wives, ever of a loving nature or grumpy old hags, although she was known for numerous other roles. She began her acting career as a young child in theater and, after establishing herself as a Broadway stage actress in 1925, she reprised her role in Street Scene for the 1931 film version.
Joan Leslie was an American actress and vaudevillian, who during the Hollywood Golden Age, appeared in such films as High Sierra, Sergeant York, and Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Ann Robinson is a former American actress and stunt horse rider, perhaps best known for her work in the science-fiction classic The War of the Worlds (1953) and in the 1954 film Dragnet, in which she starred as a Los Angeles police officer opposite Jack Webb and Ben Alexander.
Madame Sul-Te-Wan was an American stage, film and television actress for over 50 years. The daughter of former slaves, she began her career in entertainment touring the East Coast with various theatrical companies and moved to California to become a member of the fledgling film community. She became known as a character actress, appeared in high-profile films such as The Birth of a Nation (1915) and Intolerance (1916), and easily navigated the transition to the sound films.
Margo Martindale is an American character actress who has appeared on television, film, and onstage. In 2011, she won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Critics' Choice Television Award for her recurring role as Mags Bennett on Justified. Martindale was nominated for an Emmy Award four times for her recurring role as Claudia on The Americans, winning the award in 2015 and 2016. She has played supporting roles in a number of films, including Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, The Hours, Million Dollar Baby, Uncle Frank, Dead Man Walking, The Firm, Lorenzo's Oil, ...First Do No Harm, Eye of God, Win Win, Marvin's Room, Forged, Orphan, The Savages, Hannah Montana: The Movie, August: Osage County, and Paris, je t'aime.
Janet Blair was a big-band singer who became a popular American film and television actress.
Sweet Liberty is a 1986 American comedy film written and directed by Alan Alda, and starring Alda in the lead role, alongside Michael Caine and Michelle Pfeiffer, with support from Bob Hoskins, Lois Chiles, Lise Hilboldt, Lillian Gish, and Larry Shue.
Oona Castilla Chaplin is a Spanish-British actress. Her roles include Talisa Maegyr in the HBO TV series Game of Thrones, Kitty Trevelyan in the BBC drama The Crimson Field, and Zilpha Geary in the series Taboo.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Una Merkel .|