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Vivien Merchant

Vivien Merchant (1929-1983) was a British actress, born Ada Thompson. Despite her great talent and many film appearances (including Alfie (1966)), she is probably best known as the first wife of the playwright, Harold Pinter, whom she married in 1956. She appeared in many of his works, notably The Homecoming (1973). Their marriage began disintegrating in the mid-1960s and Pinter left Merchant suddenly in 1977 to live with historian Lady Antonia Fraser. Merchant went public about her distress, and famously told the press that Pinter had not taken many clothes with him; but, she quipped, if he didn't have any shoes to wear, he could always borrow Fraser's: "she has very big feet, you know". However, Merchant never got over the dissolution of her marriage, and her premature death was brought about by alcoholism.