Merle Oberon (born Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson, 19 February 1911 – 23 November 1979) was an Anglo-Indian actress. She began her film career in British films as Anne Boleyn in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933). After her success in The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), she travelled to the United States to make films for Samuel Goldwyn. She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in The Dark Angel (1935). A traffic collision in 1937 caused facial injuries that could have ended her career, but she recovered and remained active in film and television until 1973.
Estelle Merle O'Brien Thompson was born in Bombay (now known as Mumbai), British India on 19 February 1911. Merle was given "Queenie" as a nickname, in honour of Queen Mary, who visited India along with King George V in 1911.
Born to a 12-year-old mother, for most of her lifetime Oberon concealed the truth about her parentage. For many years she claimed that she had been born in Tasmania, Australia, and that her birth records had been destroyed in a fire. Some sources have claimed that Merle's parents were Arthur Terrence O'Brien Thompson, a British mechanical engineer from Darlington, who worked in Indian Railways, and Charlotte Selby, a Eurasian from Ceylon who was also of Māori heritage. However, Charlotte's 12-year-old daughter Constance was actually Merle's biological mother. Charlotte had given birth to Constance at the age of 14, the result of a relationship with Henry Alfred Selby, an Irish foreman of a tea plantation. Charlotte raised Merle as her own child and as Constance's sister. Charlotte's partner, Arthur Thompson, was listed as the father in Merle's birth certificate, with the forename misspelled as "Arther". Constance eventually married and had four other children, Edna, Douglas, Harry and Stanislaus (Stan) with her husband Alexander Soares. All the siblings reportedly believed Merle to be their aunt (the sister of their mother Constance), when in fact she was their half-sister. Edna and Douglas moved at an early age to the UK and Harry later in life moved to Toronto, Canada, and retained Constance's maiden name, Selby. Stanislaus was the only child to keep his father's last name of Soares; he has resided in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.