The star who hid her origins and pretended to be white to succeed in Hollywood

  • Meryl Sebastien
  • BBC News in the South

Credit, Getty Images

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Merle Oberon was born in Bombay, India.

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

Best known for playing the classic Wuthering Heights (1939), Oberon was an Anglo-Indian woman born in Bombay in 1911. But as a star of Hollywood’s Golden Age, she kept her past a secret, impersonating a white person for life.

Mayukh Sen, an American writer and scholar, first heard the star’s name in 2009, when he discovered Oberon had been the first person of South Asian descent to be nominated for an Oscar.

His fascination grows by seeing his films and immersing himself in his past.

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