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Merle Oberon: Passing White and Succeeding in Hollywood

  • Meryl Sebastian
  • BBC News, Delhi

Photo credit, Getty Images

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Merle Oberon was born in Bombay.

Merle Oberon, Hollywood star of the black and white era, is a forgotten icon in his native India.

Best known for performing the title role in the classic “Wuthering Heights” (1939), Oberon was an Anglo-Indian born in Bombay in 1911. But as a star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, she kept her secret origins, posing as white for her entire life.

US-based writer and scholar Mayukh Sen first learned of his name in 2009 when he discovered that Oberon had been the first person of South Asian descent to be nominated for an Oscar.

His fascination grew when he saw his films and immersed himself in his past.

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