L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The strange beauty of Merle Oberon

Photograph by George Hurrell, circa 1936.

Merle Oberon (February 19, 1911, Bombay - November 23, 1979, Malibu) , born Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson - nicknamed "Queenie" - was an actress of mixed Anglo-Indian parentage, a fact she worked hard to conceal because of the prejudices of the time. The circumstances of her birth are still very murky; she herself claimed to have been born and raised in Tasmania. She was married four times, acquired a most impressive collection of jewelry, and had a film career that lasted forty-five years, from 1928 to 1973.

Publicity for Folies Bergère de Paris, photograph by George Hurrell, 1935.
The Private Life of Don Juan, 1934.
Folies Bergère de Paris, 1935.
Photograph by George Hurrell, 1935.


Probably the most important piece in her collection, a necklace of diamonds and 29 baroque emerald beads, Cartier, 1938.


  1. I've never heard of her...absolutely stunning beauty. Thanks, Stephen! - Tamara

    1. Thank you, dear Tamara. Her most famous role was probably Cathy in Wuthering Heights in 1938, opposite Laurence Olivier.

  2. I was at the NY dock when the QEII was arriving many years ago. I turned to find myself 1 foot from Merle Oberon –– face to face. SHe looked terrifying to 21-year-old me. Her once magnificent face looked like cardboard. I swore I would never have plastic surgery EVER after that experience. I like to remember her as you have in those pictures.

    1. Fascinating encounter, Deana. Yeah, she was definitely a devotée of the lift. Sad; looking like a real person is so much nicer....

      I do know that she'd apparently had a car accident during the Thirties that left her scarred and then, later, more scarring from "make-up poisoning". So maybe it was a case of not being able to stop "fixing" things once she got started.