Charlotte Merriam

Charlotte Merriam (April 5, 1906 July 10, 1972) was an American motion picture actress.

Charlotte Merriam
Merriam in 1920
BornApril 5, 1906
DiedJuly 10, 1972(1972-07-10) (aged 69)
Years active19191934
Spouse(s)Rex Lease (m.1925div.1929)
Don Douglas (m.?1946; his death)


Merriam was the daughter of an army colonel and born in Sheridan, Illinois.[1] Her film career began in 1919 at the age of 13 with a role in The Flip of a Coin. While visiting Universal Pictures in that year she was offered a part in a comedy series starring Eddie Lyons and Leo Moran possibly to replace their female regular Betty Compson who graduated to features. Merriam accepted. Afterwards she played leads in one and two reel comedies and appeared in important parts in longer features.[2]

She performed with Colleen Moore in The Nth Commandment (1923) and was the female lead in The Brass Bottle (1923), directed by Maurice Tourneur.

She signed a long-term contract with the Vitagraph Studios in June 1924. Her role Mary Trail in Captain Blood (1924) was her transition from comedy to more serious films.[3] Merriam was associated with Warner Brothers Pictures from 1929, when she signed to play the role of Camilla in Dumbbells in Ermine (1930).[4] She was cast with Paul Hurst in an orphanage drama produced by the Tiffany Pictures about children of a deceased firefighter. The early sound film is titled The Third Alarm (1930).[5]

After the advent of sound, Merriam's roles consisted of portrayals of tarnished society women, notably Marcia Mae Jones' drunken mother in Night Nurse (1931) and as the syphilis infected Elise in Damaged Lives (1934). She seems to have retired after that.

Personal life and Death

In December 1923 Merriam was named a co-respondent in a divorce suit brought by May Morris, the wife of film director Reggie Morris.[6] Merriam married actor Rex Lease in 1925. The two met when he appeared in one of her films two years earlier. The actress filed for divorce in 1929.[7] Merriam was later married to freelance actor, Don Douglas, who died in 1946. Their residence was at 12423 Laurel Terrace, Studio City, California.[8]

Her childhood ambition was to become a concert pianist. She continued her musical education as a screen actress. She studied to be a vocalist with Felix Hughes. In January 1931 Merriam was operated on for an emergency appendicitis in San Francisco, California. She was in the bay area to participate in the entertainment for an automobile show.[9]

Merriam died in Los Angeles, California in 1972.

Partial filmography


  1. Wollstein, Hans J. "Charlotte Merriam". Allmovie. Retrieved 2010-06-26.
  2. Los Angeles Times, She Made Grade At One Jump, November 23, 1923, Page II10.
  3. Los Angeles Times, Film Luminary's Rise Prophesied, June 29, 1924, Page B29.
  4. Los Angeles Times, Charlotte Merriam In It, December 24, 1929, Page A6.
  5. Los Angeles Times, Charlotte In New Film, October 26, 1930, Page B10.
  6. Los Angeles Times, Wife Names Actress In Her Divorce, December 7, 1923, Page II3.
  7. Los Angeles Times, Actress Again Seeks Divorce, April 5, 1929, Page A20.
  8. Los Angeles Times, Don Douglas, Actor, Dies, January 1, 1946, Page 7.
  9. Los Angeles Times, Actress Stricken With Appendicitis, January 31, 1931, Page A1.
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