|Born||Merlyn Louise Johnson
January 28, 1932
Cardin, Oklahoma, USA
|Died||August 10, 2009
Cause of death
|Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery in Dallas, Texas|
|Known for||Wife of Mickey Mantle|
|Spouse(s)||Mickey Mantle (m. 1951–1995) (his death)|
|Children||Mickey Mantle, Jr.
|Parents||Giles Johnson (father) (deceased)
Reba Johnson (mother) (deceased)
Pat LaFalier (sister)
Mantle was born in Cardin in Ottawa County in far northeastern Oklahoma. She was the first of two daughters born to Giles and Reba Johnson. She had a sister, Pat, who was three years younger.
While attending high school, she met Mickey Mantle two years before his debut in Major League Baseball. Mickey was a baseball player at Commerce High School, while Merlyn was a cheerleader at the rivaling Picher High School. Their first date took place at a movie theater along the famed Route 66 in Miami, Oklahoma.
Marriage and family
On December 23, 1951, Merlyn married Mantle, following his rookie season with the New York Yankees. The couple had four sons: Mickey, Jr. (1953–2000), Billy (1955–1994), David (born 1957) and Danny (born 1960). They remained married for forty-three years, until Mickey Mantle's death in 1995, although they were estranged during Mickey Mantle's final years. Mickey died of liver cancer on August 13, 1995. Their son, Billy, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, but died of a heart attack in 1994, aged 36. Another son, Mickey Jr., died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2000, aged 47.
Merlyn Mantle was treated for alcoholism at the Betty Ford Clinic, a disease which also afflicted her husband and three of her sons. In an interview with the New York Daily News shortly after her husband's death in 1995, Merlyn Mantle spoke of the negative impact that alcohol had over her family's life, "I was in there partying and doing the same thing as Mick. That was our life and I was part of it; I can't deny that. It ruins families."
Merlyn Mantle and Greer Johnson, Mickey Mantle's agent and former live-in aide, became involved in a legal dispute over the rights to auction off Mickey Mantle's possessions in 1997. The two sides reached a settlement, ensuring the sale of some of Mickey Mantle's belongings for approximately $500,000.
Merlyn Mantle's last public appearance was on August 5, 2008, at a dinner for the memorial service of former Yankees player Bobby Murcer. However, she was unable to attend Murcer's service the following morning because of health issues.
Merlyn Mantle died of pneumonia at a hospice in Plano, Texas, on August 10, 2009, at the age of 77. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She was survived by two of her four sons, David and Danny, four grandchildren, and her sister, Pat LaFalier. She was interred next to her husband and two sons at Dallas' Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery.
- Kepner, Tyler (2009-08-11). "Widow of Mantle Dies". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- Drellich, Evan (2009-08-10). "Merlyn Mantle, widow of Mickey, dies at 77". Newsday. Retrieved 2009-08-11.
- Hevesi, Dennis (2009-08-11). "Merlyn Mantle, Who Was Married to Yankees Great for 43 Years, Dies at 77". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-08-18.
- "Sports authority hopes to save home for Mickey Mantle collection". Jopling Lobe. January 29, 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2011.
- Obernauer, Michael (2009-08-11). "Merlyn Mantle, widow of Yankee icon Mickey Mantle, succumbs to Alzheimer's disease at age 77". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2009-08-11.