Gary Merrill

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Gary Merrill
Gary merrill.png
Merrill in the trailer for A Blueprint for Murder (1953)
Gary Fred Merrill

(1915-08-02)August 2, 1915
DiedMarch 5, 1990(1990-03-05) (aged 74)
  • Actor
Years active1943–1980
Barbara Leeds
(m. 1941; div. 1950)

(m. 1950; div. 1960)

Gary Fred Merrill (August 2, 1915 – March 5, 1990) was an American film and television actor whose credits included more than 50 feature films, a half-dozen mostly short-lived TV series, and dozens of television guest appearances. He starred in All About Eve and married his costar Bette Davis.

Early life[edit]

Merrill was born in Hartford, Connecticut, and attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Trinity College in Hartford.[1] He began acting in 1944, while still in the United States Army Air Forces, in the play Winged Victory.


Before entering films, Merrill's deep cultured voice won him a recurring role as Batman in the Superman radio series. His film career began promisingly, with roles in films such as Twelve O'Clock High (1949) and All About Eve (1950), but he rarely moved beyond supporting roles in his many Westerns, war movies, and medical dramas. His television career was extensive. He appeared from 1954 to 1956 as Jason Tyler on the crime drama Justice.[2]

In 1958, Merrill guest starred with June Lockhart in the roles of Joshua and Emily Newton in the episode "Medicine Man" of the series Cimarron City.

Merrill had recurring roles in Then Came Bronson with Michael Parks and Young Doctor Kildare, both of which lasted less than a season.

In addition to Merrill's starring roles in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, in November 1963 he starred with Phyllis Thaxter and Fess Parker (Daniel Boone) in an episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ("Nothing Ever Happens in Linvale").

In 1964, he starred as city editor Lou Sheldon in the short-lived drama The Reporter.

In 1967, he starred in the Elvis Presley film Clambake, with costar James Gregory.

Aside from an occasional role as narrator, Merrill essentially retired from the entertainment business after 1980. Shortly before his death, he authored the autobiography Bette, Rita and the Rest of My Life (1989).

Personal life[edit]

Merrill posing in a promotional image for All About Eve (1950): He is pictured with Bette Davis, whom he was married to from 1950 to 1960.

Merrill's first marriage, to Barbara Leeds in 1941, ended in divorce in Mexico on July 28, 1950. That same day, he married Bette Davis,[3] his costar from All About Eve, and adopted her daughter, Barbara, from a previous marriage. They adopted two more children, Margot and Michael,[1] but they had a bitter divorce in 1960.

Often politically active, he campaigned in 1958 to elect the Democrat Edmund Muskie as governor of Maine. He also took part in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965 to promote Black voter registration. In response to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson's Vietnam War policy, he unsuccessfully sought nomination to the Maine legislature as an anti-war, pro-environmentalist primary candidate.[1]

Merrill survived his second ex-wife, Bette Davis, by only five months, dying of lung cancer in Falmouth, Maine, on March 5, 1990. He is buried in the Pine Grove Cemetery. He was survived by a son, Michael; a daughter, Margot; a brother, Jerry; and two grandchildren.[1]



Merrill's television work spanned from 1953 to 1980. Most of his appearances were in guest-star roles in episodic and anthology series. Among the programs he appeared in were:

Radio appearances[edit]

Year Program Episode/source
1952 Lux Radio Theatre Follow the Sun[4]
1952 Hollywood Star Playhouse "The Patient Stranger"[5]
1953 Lux Radio Theatre Phone Call from a Stranger[6]


  1. ^ a b c d Yarrow, Andrew L. (March 7, 1990). "Gary Merrill, Actor, Dies at 74; Worked in More Than 40 Films". New York Times. Retrieved 2 January 2017.
  2. ^ Alex McNeil, Total Television, p. 444
  3. ^ "Bette Davis, Gary Merrill Wed In Mexico". Dunkirk Evening Observer. July 29, 1950. p. 5. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via open access
  4. ^ Kirby, Walter (March 9, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 25, 2015 – via open access
  5. ^ Kirby, Walter (April 6, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved May 16, 2015 – via open access
  6. ^ Kirby, Walter (January 4, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 38. Retrieved June 19, 2015 – via open access

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