Merle Oberon


Trung To, Staff Writer

Merle Oberon, born on February 19 1911, first arrived in England at the age of 17 in 1928. Oberon’s birthplace was Bombay, now currently known as Mumbai, British India. Her father was of Irish descent. Oberon was able to make it in the film industry by telling directors and producers that her birth certificate was lost in a fire, and claimed to have been born in Tasmania, Australia. Once in England, she passed herself off as caucasian.

She was a hostess for a club, giong by the name Queenie O’Brien. Oberon stated that she was lucky she had a beautiful face, saying “I couldn’t dance or sing or write or paint. The only possible opening seemed to be in some line in which I could use my face, This was, in fact, no better than a hundred other faces, but it did possess a fortunately photogenic quality.” Oberon was launched into the spotlight after being given the role in The Private Life of Henry VIII as Anne Boleyn. She was also known for portraying Cathy in the film Wuthering Heights. She later then married the director that started it all, Alexander Korda. In 1935 Oberon won an the Academy Award for Best Actress for the movie The Dark Angel.

Now, Oberon is a symbol of courage and bravery for many Asian Americans, and even Asian American women out there, because even though she had lied about her ethnicity, she was able to leave her mark in film history by starring in so many movies, 54 movies to be exact, and winning an Academy Award. This goes to show you that people were ashamed of being of Asian descent back in the 30’s and 40’s, because racism was much more prominent back then. Now, many Asian Americans are proud of who they are, and they also want to try their best to change the perspective other ethnicities have on Asian Americans.