Toby Wing

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Toby Wing
Toby Wing by Mortimer Offner.jpg
BornMartha Virginia Wing
(1915-07-14)July 14, 1915
Amelia Courthouse, Virginia, U.S.
DiedMarch 22, 2001(2001-03-22) (aged 85)
Mathews, Virginia, U.S.
Resting placeChrist Church Kingston Parish Cemetery, Mathews County, Virginia, U.S.
Years active1924–1938
Spouse(s)Dick Merrill (1938–1982) (his death) 2 children

Toby Wing (July 14, 1915 – March 22, 2001) was an American actress and showgirl.


Born Martha Virginia Wing in Amelia Court House, Virginia[1] to Paul Wing and Martha Thraves.[2] She had a sister, Gertrude (nicknamed "Pat") and a younger brother, Paul.[3]

She began working onscreen at age 9. Her father was an assistant director for Paramount Pictures. In 1931, she became one of the first Goldwyn Girls, and in 1932 she was seen in Mack Sennett-produced comedies made by Paramount, one starring Bing Crosby. Wing made an impression with producers and moviegoers, but she seldom broke through to leading roles.

Many of her roles were small and barely clothed, before the introduction of the 1934 Production Code, but she became widely recognized as a sex symbol. Since her contracted studio was mired in bankruptcy during much of her career, much of her work was done on loan, primarily at Warner Bros. and later, after her release, on extremely low budget efforts on a per-film basis. Wing enjoyed a far more successful sideline doing product endorsements and was featured in innumerable fan magazines from 1933-38. She was also well known offscreen for her romances, and was linked to Jackie Coogan (to whom she was engaged during much of 1935), Maurice Chevalier, and Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr.

Toby Wing played a few leading roles in B features and short subjects. In 1936 and 1937, she worked opposite singer-songwriter Pinky Tomlin in two of his low budget musical features, With Love and Kisses and Sing While You're Able. The two stars were engaged briefly during late 1937. Although the romance ended before their planned wedding, they remained close until Tomlin's death.

Her last leading role was in The Marines Come Thru (filmed in Florida in 1938, but not seeing general release until 1942 as Fight On, Marines!). She retired from movies after marrying the pilot Dick Merrill, more than 20 years her senior, on October 19, 1938 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.[4] Wing completed her acting career on Broadway in the unsuccessful Cole Porter musical You Never Know, which starred Lupe Vélez, Clifton Webb, Libby Holman, and J. Harold Murray.

The couple retired to DiLido, Florida, where Merrill was assigned Eastern Airlines' New York-Miami route for the remainder of his career. Wing became successful in real estate in California and Florida. Wing and Merrill later settled in Virginia, where they lived together until Merrill's death in 1982.

Personal life[edit]

The Merrills had two sons, neither of whom have survived. Their first child died of what was then termed "Crib Death" and their second son, Ricky, was murdered in their Miami home in September 1982 at age 42.

His murder was reportedly related to his involvement in a large-scale marijuana-smuggling operation in New Orleans. At the time of his death he was free on appeal of a drug-smuggling conviction.[5]

The Merrills were living in Virginia at the time and the case is still listed as unsolved. The couple was survived by two granddaughters.[6]


Wing's father, a career reserve Army officer, was reactivated for service prior to World War II and was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in 1942. He survived the Bataan Death March and was later rescued in the Raid at Cabanatuan by U.S. Army Rangers and Filipino guerillas, a story told in The Great Raid (2005). Paul Wing died in 1957.[citation needed]

Her younger sister, Pat Wing Gill (1916–2002), was also an actress and chorus girl who largely worked for Warner Bros. Her brother, Paul Reuben Wing (1926–1998), was a billionaire real estate mogul who led a quiet life away from the Hollywood limelight in Lake Elsinore, California.[citation needed]



Short Subjects:

  • Jimmy's New Yacht (1932)
  • The Loud Mouth (1932)
  • The Candid Camera (1932)
  • Alaska Love (1932)
  • Ma's Pride and Joy (1932)
  • Blue of the Night (1933)
  • Rhythm on the Roof (1934)
  • Star Night at the Cocoanut Grove (1934)
  • Hollywood Extra Girl (1935)
  • La Fiesta de Santa Barbara (1935)
  • Hill-Tillies (1936)
  • Rhythmitis (1936)
  • Sunday Night at the Trocadero (1937)


  1. ^ Virginia, Birth Records, 1912-2014
  2. ^ Virginia, Marriage Records, 1936-2014
  3. ^ 1930 United States Federal Census
  4. ^ Virginia, Marriage Records, 1943-2014
  5. ^ "Four Miami Detectives Recall the Unsolved Murders That Haunt Them". Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  6. ^ "Toby Wing, 85, Pinup Star of the 1930's, Dies". Retrieved June 28, 2018.

External links[edit]