So, just how much did you know about Merle Oberon?
Did you know that the final of four husbands was an obscure Dutch-born actor by the name of Robert Wolders, who appeared in the 1965 tv series Laredo and the 1967 Universal war drama Tobruk, starring Rock Hudson?
Wolders married Oberon in 1975. He was 38. She was 64.
He had costarred two years before in Oberon’s last movie, Interval (which she co-produced), a melodrama about a worldly woman with a shady past who finds true love with a much younger man. The couple stayed married for four years until her death in 1979. From 1980 on, Wolders and Audrey Hepburn were an inseparable couple.
Onward to our Merle Oberon Quiz. Here we go:
1) Question: Oberon may be the only major Hollywood star to born in the island state of Tasmania, just off Australia. a) True; b) False?
1) Answer: b) False. Although she claimed for years that she was born in Tasmania, Oberon actually hailed from Mumbai (formerly Bombay) India. For reasons that seem strange today, she was skittish about revealing her true family roots. By the way, the biggest Hollywood star to have been born in Tasmania was Errol Flynn.
2) Question: Oberon was nominated for a best actress Oscar for which one of the following titles? a) The Scarlet Pimpernel; b) Dark Angel; c) Interval; or d) Wuthering Heights.
2) Answer: b) 1935’s Dark Angel. Oberon plays a woman sought after by two acting heavyweights, Frederic March and Herbert Marshall. Still in all, she received perhaps her best reviews for her performance in 1939’s Wuthering Heights.
3) Question: Oberon’s ancestry is shrouded in mystery to this day. What was her family’s ethnic back round? a) Afro American; b) Italian American; c) Indian-British; or d) None of the above.
3) Answer: c) Indian-British. Oberon was born Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson in 1911, the product of of an Anglo-Indian marriage. Her mother was from Sri Lanka and her father was a British mechanical engineer.
4) Question: Oberon had something of the reputation of a “cougar” with a preference for much younger lovers. a) True; or b) False.
4) Answer: b) Mostly true, in one instance at least. (See introduction above.)
5) Question: Oberon had a torrid affair (resulting in no marriage) with which one of the following? a) Laurence Olivier; b) David Niven; c) Spencer Tracy; or d) Cary Grant.
5) Answer: b) David Niven. Merle wanted to marry him but he had other ideas. It all happened in the mid-Thirties.