Legit and television actress Marian Mercer, who won a Tony Award in 1969 for her performance musical “Promises, Promises,” died April 27 in Newbury Park, Calif., from complications of Alzheimer’s. She was 75.
Mercer won the Tony for featured actress in a musical for her role as an easy pickup at the local bar, but she also undertook weightier roles. In rep across the U.S., she played Olivia in “Twelfth Night,” Helena in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” among many other roles.
Mercer starred with Sammy Davis Jr. in the 1978 Broadway production of “Stop the World — I Want to Get Off,” playing all four of the women in his life with a combo of songs, comedy and mime.
Mercer’s flair for comedy led to a great deal of work on television. She was a regular on “The Jonathan Winters Show,” recurred on “The Dom DeLuise Show” and appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” She appeared on dozens of other shows but was perhaps best known as Nancy Beebe on the 1980-89 sitcom “It’s a Living,” which ran first on ABC and then in syndication. She also recurred on “St. Elsewhere”; her last TV appearance was in a 2000 episode of “Providence.”
Born Marian Ethel Mercer was in Akron, Ohio, she began singing lessons at 8. At the U. of Michigan she began acting, taking summer stock roles. In 1957 and eventually found her way into the choruses of “Greenwillow” and “Fiorello!”
In 1961 she got her big break, taking over the title role in Rick Besoyan’s satirical musical “Little Mary Sunshine,” an Off Broadway hit.
Mercer is survived by her husband, Patrick Hogan; a daughter; and a sister.