How Did Merry Anders Die? The Mysterious Fate of a Hollywood Starlet

Merry Anders was a beautiful and talented actress who appeared in dozens of films and television shows from the 1950s to the early 1970s. She was best known for her roles in westerns, sci-fi, and horror movies, as well as for co-starring in the sitcom How to Marry a Millionaire. But what happened to her after she retired from the screen? How did she die and what was the cause of her death? In this article, we will explore the life and career of Merry Anders, and try to shed some light on her mysterious fate.

Early Life and Career

Merry Anders was born Mary Helen Anderson on May 22, 1934, in Chicago, Illinois. She was the only child of Charles, a contractor, and Helen Anderson. She was of German, Irish, and Swedish descent. When she was 15, she and her mother moved to Los Angeles, where she attended John Burroughs Middle School. There, she met former actress Rita La Roy, who encouraged her to pursue 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. She made her film debut in the musical Golden Girl, followed by small and supporting roles in several Fox films. However, Fox dropped her contract in 1954, after she refused to dye her blonde hair red.

Anders then turned to television, where she had more success. She joined the cast of The Stu Erwin Show for its last season in 1954-1955. She then starred in the CBS sitcom It’s Always Jan, opposite Janis Paige, but the show was canceled after one season. In 1956, she gave birth to her daughter Tina, from her brief marriage to casting director John Stephens.

Stardom and Struggle

In 1957, Anders had a breakthrough year. She took over the role of Rita Marlowe (popularized by Jayne Mansfield) in the West Coast touring production of the Broadway hit Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?. She also had a leading role in the 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 had a bit part), starring Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, and Lauren Bacall. Anders co-starred in the series with Barbara Eden and Lori Nelson. The show was fairly successful and ran for two seasons until 1959.

During the early to mid-1960s, Anders continued her career with mainly supporting film roles and guest spots on television. She appeared in the horror film The Hypnotic Eye (1960), the western Young Jesse James (1960), and the sci-fi thriller The Time Travelers (1964). She also guest-starred on popular shows like Surfside 6, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Hawaiian Eye, Death Valley Days, 77 Sunset Strip, Perry Mason, Bonanza, The Addams Family, and Dragnet.

However, by the late 1960s, Anders found it hard to make a living as an actress. She was divorced from her second husband Richard Benedict (an engineer whom she married in 1986) and had to raise her daughter alone. She also faced age discrimination and competition from younger actresses. She decided to retire from acting in 1972, after appearing in a few more films and TV shows.

Retirement and Death

After leaving Hollywood, Anders went to work for Litton Data Systems as a customer relations coordinator. She stayed with the company for 25 years until her retirement in 1994. She also enjoyed traveling, reading, gardening, and spending time with her family and friends. She remained close with her former co-star Barbara Eden throughout the years.

On October 28, 2012, Anders died in Encino, California at the age of 78. The cause of her death was not disclosed to the public. She was survived by her daughter Tina Benedict (who also became an actress), her grandson Christopher Benedict (a musician), and her extended family.

Merry Anders was a versatile and charming actress who left behind a legacy of memorable performances. She was admired by fans and colleagues alike for her beauty, talent, and professionalism. She was also a loving mother and grandmother who cherished her personal life away from the spotlight. Her death remains a mystery to many who wonder what happened to her in her final years.

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