Born in Hartford, Connecticut, he began acting in 1944, while still in the United States Army. 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 supportive roles in his many Westerns, war movies, and medical dramas. His television career was extensive, if not consistent. Two of his recurring roles, which included Then Came Bronson and Young Doctor Kildare, lasted less than a season.
Merrill's first marriage was to Barbara Leeds in 1941 which ended in divorce in 1950. He immediately married Bette Davis, his co-star from All About Eve, adopting her daughter from a previous marriage. He and Davis adopted two more children, but eventually divorced in 1960. Merrill was later involved with actress Rita Hayworth.
Often politically active, he campaigned to elect Edmund Muskie to governor of Maine in 1953. Merrill also took part in the Selma to Montgomery marches in 1965. In response to President Johnson's Vietnam 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 had 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 died of lung cancer at Falmouth, Maine and is buried there in the Pine Grove Cemetery.
Gary Merrill Facts
|Birthday||August 2, 1915|
|Birthplace||Hartford, Connecticut, USA|
|Date of death||March 5, 1990 (age 74)|