Lynn Merrick, 85; B-western actress appeared in over 40 movies in the 1940s

Times Staff Writer

Lynn Merrick, a Republic and Columbia Pictures contract player in the 1940s and best remembered by western film fans as one of Don "Red" Barry's frequent leading ladies at Republic, has died. She was 85.

Merrick died March 25 after a long illness at her home in West Palm Beach, Fla., said Phil Schoen, her second cousin.

The blond, blue-eyed actress appeared in more than 40 films in the 1940s, beginning with "Two Gun Sheriff," starring Barry in 1940. Dubbed Barry's "perennial screen sweetheart" in Buck Rainey's 1992 book "Sweethearts of the Sage," Merrick appeared in 15 other Barry westerns at Republic over the next three years, including "Days of Old Cheyenne," "Dead Man's Gulch" and "Outlaws of Pine Ridge."

"She was very well known and popular at the time," said Boyd Magers, editor and publisher of Western Clippings, a western film publication. "She wasn't a great thespian, but she was good enough, and that's all it took in those B westerns."

Merrick, who worked at several other studios before signing with Republic in 1941, moved to Columbia Pictures in 1943.

At Columbia, she starred in "The Blonde From Brooklyn," co-starred with Bob Crosby in "Meet Miss Bobby Socks" and with Richard Dix in "Voice of the Whistler." She also was Chester Morris' leading lady in "Boston Blackie Booked on Suspicion" and "A Close Call for Boston Blackie," among other credits.

Marilyn Merrick Llewelling was born Nov. 19, 1921, in Fort Worth. After moving to California, she studied acting, worked as a model and was appearing in a theater production when she was spotted by a studio talent scout.

Her last film at Columbia, "I Love Trouble," was released in 1948. Merrick did some film and television work in Europe and appeared in summer theater in the United States for a time.

She was married twice -- first to actor Conrad Nagel in the mid-'40s and then, from 1949 to 1956, to Robert Goelet Jr., a movie producer and the heir to a family fortune. She had no children.

After ending her acting career in the '50s, Merrick worked in the fashion industry in New York and served as an executive field director for the Barbizon School of Modeling from 1967 to 1974, Schoen said.

She later worked in sales at department stores in California and Florida.

Merrick put her Hollywood years behind her, Schoen said, relegating old publicity photos and newspaper clippings to a trunk.

But a few years ago, she became more open to discussing her days in Hollywood with friends and neighbors in the apartment complex for seniors where she lived.

"I think she came to grips with it," Schoen said. "You might as well enjoy it. She actually kept a small supply of the pictures under her bed. If someone came over and asked for one, she'd sign it and give it to them."

dennis.mclellan@latimes.com

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