Merrill in the trailer for A Blueprint for Murder (1953)
Gary Fred Merrill
August 2, 1915
Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.
|Died||March 5, 1990 (aged 74)|
Falmouth, Maine, U.S.
(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. Merrill starred in All About Eve and married his co-star Bette Davis.
Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he attended private Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, and Trinity College and 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 like 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 1954-1956 as Jason Tyler on the crime drama Justice.
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 a memorable episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour ("Nothing Ever Happens in Linvale").
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, his co-star from All About Eve, and adopted her daughter Barbara from a previous marriage. He and Davis adopted two more children, Margo and Michael, 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. Merrill 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.
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).
Merrill survived his second former wife, Bette Davis, by only five months, dying of lung cancer in Falmouth, Maine on March 5, 1990. He is buried there in the Pine Grove Cemetery. He was survived by a son, Michael; a daughter, Margot; a brother, Jerry; and two grandchildren.
Merrill's television work spanned from 1953-1980. Most of his appearances were in guest-star roles in episodic and anthology series. Among the programs in which Merrill appeared are: The 20th Century-Fox Hour, Wagon Train, Studio 57, Studio One, Playhouse 90, Alcoa Theatre, Rawhide, Laramie, Cimarron City, Sam Benedict, Alfred Hitchcock Presents (numerous episodes, including "Man With A Problem" 1957 and "O Youth and Beauty" 1960), Zane Grey Theater, The Twilight Zone (episode "Still Valley" as Confederate soldier Joseph Paradine), General Electric Theater, Ben Casey, Combat!, The Outer Limits, Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Time Tunnel, Marcus Welby, M.D., Medical Center, Kung Fu, Cannon and Movin' On.
Merrill also served as narrator of the 1972-73 TV series The American Adventure.
|1952||Lux Radio Theatre||Follow the Sun|
|1952||Hollywood Star Playhouse||"The Patient Stranger"|
|1953||Lux Radio Theatre||Phone Call from a Stranger|