- 10 December 1903
- Covington, Kentucky, USA
Una Merkel began her movie career as stand-in for Lillian Gish in the movie The Wind (1928). After that, she performed on Broadway before she returned to movies for the D.W. Griffith film Abraham Lincoln (1930). In her early years, before gaining a few pounds, she looked like Lillian Gish, but after Abraham Lincoln (1930) her comic potential was discovered. She mostly played supporting roles as the heroine's no-nonsense friend, but with her broad Southern accent and her peroxide blond hair, she gave one of her best performances as a wisecracking but not-so-bright chorus girl in 42nd Street (1933). Perhaps she is best remembered for her hair-pulling fight with Marlene Dietrich in Destry Rides Again (1939). In 1962, she was nominated for the Academy Award as best supporting actress in Summer and Smoke (1961).