The first Asian actress to be nominated for an Academy Award hid her heritage from Hollywood


When Michelle Yeoh’s nomination for Best Actress was announced at the Academy Awards on Tuesday, some media outlets highlighted that she was the first Asian woman to do so.

other platforms, Including NextSharkdiscerning that the actor was actually “the first person identifiable as Asian” to be nominated for the award.

As it turns out, there was only one ethnic South Asian-American actress who was The first to be nominated Category: Hollywood star Merle Oberon.

Oberon, who was a popular celebrity in the 1930s, was Find out he lied about her true birthplace and biracial identity after her death.

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While her reasons for doing so are not fully known, it has been widely speculated that it was in part due to her ambition to succeed in the entertainment industry, as next one Previously mentioned.

At the time, it was nearly impossible for non-white actors, especially women of color, to enter the industry. Not only was the casting of color frowned upon, but there were also self-imposed industry restrictions, known as the Hays Code, that made it effectively impossible to do so.

Oberon claimed it was Originally from TasmaniaAn island country in Australia.

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“I was born in Tasmania but left there as a child,” Oberon said in a 1934 interview in West Australia. “Since my films have been circulating, many people in exotic parts of Australia have popped in to claim me as a relation… I don’t know much about them because my family quarreled with them some time ago.”

In fact, Estelle Merle O’Brien Thompson was born to a British father and a mother of Sinhalese and part Maori descent in what is now Mumbai in the year 1911.

Reportedly, a London publicist called the fabrication of her new background that records of Oberon’s birth were destroyed in a fire and that she moved to India after the death of her British father.

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Oberon first started acting at the age of nine when she joined the Calcutta Amateur Dramatic Society after her family moved to what is now Kolkata, India.

In 1928, she moved to France to pursue an acting career with the help of filmmaker Rex Ingram, who offered her small roles in his films.

Hungarian director Aleksander Korda-Oberon gave her her big break with a small but notable role as Anne Boleyn in the 1933 film The Private Life of Henry VIII.

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She traveled to the United States to make her first Hollywood film for Samuel Goldwyn after the success of The Scarlet Pimpernel in 1934.

Her nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress came just a year later, by way of the 1935 film The Dark Angel.

Another highlight of her career was the starring role of Kathryn Earnshaw in the 1939 film “Wuthering Heights”.

Oberon It was revealed secretly Shortly after she died of a stroke at the age of 68 in 1979.

Details about her background were first published in the 1983 biography “Princess Merle: The Romantic Life of Merle Oberon” by Hollywood historian Charles Higham and author Roy Mosley.

Oberon’s birth certificate was published in 2014 via a project between the British Library and the ancestral website

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