Merry Anders (born Mary Helen Anderson; May 22, 1934 – October 28, 2012) was an American actress and model who appeared in a number of television programs and films from the 1950s until her retirement from the screen in 1972.
Mary Helen Anderson
May 22, 1934
|Died||October 28, 2012 (aged 78)|
Encino, California, U.S.
|Other names||Merry A. Benedict|
(m. 1955; div. 1956)
(m. 1986; died 1999)
Anders was born in Chicago in 1934, the only child of Charles, a contractor, and Helen Anderson. Anders was of German, Irish and Swedish descent. In 1949, Anders and her mother visited Los Angeles for two weeks. They decided to remain in Los Angeles permanently while Charles Anderson remained in Chicago. While she was a student at John Burroughs Middle School, Anders met former actress Rita Leroy who encouraged her to begin a modeling career. While working as a junior model, Anders began studying acting at the Ben Bard Playhouse. It was there that a talent scout from 20th Century Fox spotted her and signed her to a film contract in 1951.
Anders made her film debut in the 1951 musical Golden Girl. For the next two years, she appeared in small and supporting roles in several 20th Century Fox films. In 1954, Fox dropped her. Later that year, Anders joined the cast of The Stu Erwin Show. She remained with the series until its cancellation in 1955. Anders was then cast in the CBS sitcom It's Always Jan, starring Janis Paige. That series was canceled after one season.
Shortly after the birth of her daughter in 1956, Anders took over the role of "Rita Malone" (popularized by Jayne Mansfield) in the West Coast touring production of the Broadway hit Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. In 1957, Anders had a much-publicized leading role in Paramount Pictures film Hear Me Good, opposite Hal March. She starred in four low-budget films that same year, The Dalton Girls, Calypso Heat Wave, The Night Runner and Escape from San Quentin.
Also in 1957, Anders landed the role of "Mike McCall" in the NTA Film Network and syndicated sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire. The series was based on the hit 1953 film of the same name (in which Anders appeared in a bit role) starring Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, and Lauren Bacall. Anders co-starred in the series with Barbara Eden and Lori Nelson. The first season of How to Marry a Millionaire was fairly successful and it was renewed for a second, abbreviated season. It was cancelled in 1959.
During the early to mid 1960s, Anders continued her career with mainly supporting film roles and guest spots on television. In 1960, she appeared in the horror film The Hypnotic Eye followed by a role in the Western Young Jesse James. Anders went on to land guest roles on Surfside 6, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hawaiian Eye, Death Valley Days, 77 Sunset Strip, and Perry Mason. In 1962 Anders appeared as Ruth Graham/Fay Pierce on Cheyenne in the episode titled "The Long Rope."
In 1962, Anders was cast in the first English-language live action film adaptation of the 18th century French fairy tale Beauty and the Beast. In 1965, she appeared opposite Elvis Presley in the musical comedy Tickle Me. The following year, she appeared in the recurring role of "Alice" in the teen soap opera Never Too Young. Later that year, Anders had a supporting role in the B movie Women of the Prehistoric Planet.
Retirement and later yearsEdit
By the late 1960s, Anders' acting career had begun to wane. In 1968, she appeared as uncredited "glorified extra" in the film Airport (1970). To supplement her income between acting jobs, Anders took a job as a receptionist at Litton Industries. Her final acting role was a guest spot in the two part Gunsmoke episode "Waste", which aired late September and early October 1971.
Anders retired from acting in 1972 in order to "live a normal life." She eventually became a customer relations coordinator at Litton Industries, where she remained until her retirement in 1994.
On March 25, 1955, Anders married producer John Stephens. They separated on July 12, 1955, due to his physical abuse. Two weeks later, she discovered she was pregnant with the couple's first child. Their daughter, Tina Beth Paige Anders, was born in March 1956. Anders and Stephens were divorced in June 1956. In 1986, Anders married engineer Richard Benedict; the couple remained married until his death in 1999.
|1952||Belles on Their Toes||Student / Graduate||Uncredited|
|1952||Wait till the Sun Shines, Nellie||Adeline Halper / Adeline Burdge||Uncredited|
|1953||The Farmer Takes a Wife||Hannah|
|1953||How to Marry a Millionaire||Model||Uncredited|
|1954||Three Coins in the Fountain||Girl||Uncredited|
|1954||Princess of the Nile||Handmaiden|
|1955||All That Heaven Allows||Mary Ann|
|1957||The Night Runner||Amy Hansen|
|1957||Calypso Heat Wave||Marti Collins|
|1957||No Time to Be Young||Gloria Stuben|
|1957||Escape from San Quentin||Robbie|
|1957||Death in Small Doses||Amy "Miss Diesel of 1958" Phillips|
|1957||Hear Me Good||Ruth Collins|
|1957||The Dalton Girls||Holly Dalton|
|1958||Violent Road||Carrie - The Girl in the Convertible|
|1960||The Hypnotic Eye||Dodie Wilson|
|1960||Five Bold Women||Missouri Lady Ellen Downs|
|1960||Young Jesse James||Belle Starr|
|1960||The Walking Target||Susan Mallory|
|1961||The Police Dog Story||Terry Dayton|
|1961||The Gambler Wore a Gun||Sharon Donovan|
|1961||When the Clock Strikes||Ellie|
|1961||20,000 Eyes||Karen Walker|
|1961||Secret of Deep Harbor||Janey Fowler|
|1962||Patty||Mary||Alternative titles: The Shame of Patty Smith|
Doctor Please Help Me
|1962||Beauty and the Beast||Sybil|
|1962||Air Patrol||Mona Whitney|
|1963||FBI Code 98||Grace McLean|
|1963||House of the Damned||Nancy Campbell|
|1963||Police Nurse||Joan Olson|
|1964||A Tiger Walks||Betty Collins|
|1964||The Quick Gun||Helen Reed|
|1964||The Time Travelers||Carol White|
|1964||Raiders from Beneath the Sea||Dottie Harper|
|1965||Tickle Me||Estelle Penfield|
|1966||Women of the Prehistoric Planet||Lt. Karen Lamont|
|1970||Airport||Mrs. Burt Ball - Passenger||Uncredited|
|1971||Will to Die||Laura Dean||Alternative titles: Legacy of Blood|
|1954||The Public Defender||Agnes Fay||Episode: "The Last Appeal"|
|1954||The Ford Television Theatre||Various||2 episodes|
|1954–1955||The Stu Erwin Show||Joyce Erwin||26 episodes|
|1955||TV Reader's Digest||Sally||Episode: "Honeymoon in Mexico"|
|1955–1956||It's Always Jan||Val Marlowe||5 episodes|
|1955–1961||The Loretta Young Show||Various||2 episodes|
|1956||The Millionaire||Helen Forrester||Episode: "The Jay Powers Story"|
|1957||Broken Arrow||Amy Breece||Episode: "Smoke Signal"|
|1957–1959||How to Marry a Millionaire||Mike McCall||52 episodes|
|1958||Decision||Lucy Hamilton||Episode: "Man on a Raft"|
|1958–1962||77 Sunset Strip||Various||5 episodes|
|1959||State Trooper||Mrs. Wallace||Episode: "The Case of the Barefoot Girl"|
|1959||Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer||Harriet Britton||Episode: "Swing Low, Sweet Harriet"|
|1959||Tales of Wells Fargo||Laurie Hammer||Episode: "The Tall Texan"|
|1959||The Ann Sothern Show||Myrna||Episode: "Katy and the Cowboy"|
|1959||Richard Diamond, Private Detective||Claudia Reed||Episode: "Bookie"|
|1959||The Real McCoys||Miss McLean||Episode: "The Lawsuit"|
|1960||Bonanza||Virginia Keith||Episode: "Bitter Water"|
|1960–1961||The Case of the Dangerous Robin||2 episodes|
|1960–1962||Hawaiian Eye||Various||4 episodes|
|1961||Surfside 6||Chris Karns||Episode: "Yesterday's Hero"|
|1961||Bringing Up Buddy||Diane Mitchell||Episode: "Buddy and the Amazon"|
|1961||Michael Shayne||Ginger Dennis||Episode: "Dead Air"|
|1961||Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Lena||Episode: "Maria"|
|1961||The New Bob Cummings Show||Episode: "The Ox-Tail Incident"|
|1961||Ichabod and Me||Leona||Episode: "Bob's Redhead"|
|1961–1964||Perry Mason||Various||3 episodes|
|1962||Straightaway||Barbara||Episode: "Tiger By the Tail"|
|1963||The Jack Benny Program||Kidnapper aka Florence Nightingale||Episode: "Jack Is Kidnapped"|
|1963–1964||The Joey Bishop Show||Various||2 episodes|
|1964||Arrest and Trial||Various||2 episodes|
|1964||The Virginian||Donna Durrell||Episode: "A Man Called Kane"|
|1964||The Addams Family||Miss Carver||Episode: "Fester's Punctured Romance"|
|1966||Get Smart||Joanna Sloan||Episode: "All in the Mind"|
|1966||Never Too Young||Alice||11 episodes|
|1967–1968||Dragnet||Policewoman Dorothy Miller||7 episodes|
|1967–1968||Lassie||Carol Dawson||4 episodes|
|1971||Gunsmoke||Shirley||2 episodes, (final appearance)|
- "Ancestry Library Edition". Search.ancestrylibrary.com. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
- Woodbine, Paul. "Merry Anders". glamourgirlsofthesilverscreen.com. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- Weaver, Tom (2003). Double Feature Creature Attack: A Monster Merger of Two More Volumes of Classic Interviews. McFarland. p. 2. ISBN 0-786-48215-X.
- Koper, Richard (2010). Fifties Blondes: Sexbombs, Sirens, Bad Girls and Teen Queens. BearManor Media. p. 27. ISBN 978-1-593-93521-4.
- Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2009). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present. Random House Publishing Group. p. 643. ISBN 978-0-307-48320-1.
- Tucker, David C. (2010). Lost Laughs of '50S and '60S Television: Thirty Sitcoms That Faded Off Screen. McFarland. pp. 64–66. ISBN 978-0-786-45582-9.
- Scheuer, Philip K. (May 1, 1961). "Andrew Stone Will Produce War Tale: Civic to Stage 'The Balcony'; 'Beauty and Beast' Refilmed". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. p. C11.
- Blum, Daniel, ed. (1963). Daniel Blum's Screen World 1963. Biblo & Tannen Publishers. p. 129. ISBN 0-819-60304-X.
- Lisanti, Tom (2001). Fantasy Femmes of Sixties Cinema: Interviews with 20 Actresses from Biker, Beach, and Elvis Movies. McFarland. p. 96. ISBN 0-786-40868-5.
- (Koper 2010, p. 29)
- "Actress Expecting Baby Disputes Property Pact". The Los Angeles Times. December 23, 1955. p. 2. Retrieved May 28, 2021 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Anders Explains Her Divorce". The Tuscaloosa News. Tuscaloosa, Alabama. July 19, 1957. p. 12. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
- "Actress Divorced". The Dispatch. Lexington, North Carolina. June 18, 1956. p. 3. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
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