Leola Green Merrill: Mormon Actress
Leola D. Green Merrill was writer and performer of one-woman shows and numerous adaptations of classical plays.
She was born on November 24, 1911, in Lewisville, Idaho. She attended Brigham Young University from 1932 to 1936, graduated with honors with a degree in dramatic art and business. She married David M. Merrill the year she graduated.
Merrill gave birth to four children (including filmmaker Kieth Merrill) and kept active in drama. She created and performed in more than 50 full-length plays that she adapted from classical plays.
She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and shared her testimony through 10 original dramatizations, including “Lucy, Mother of a Prophet,” in which she portrayed Lucy Mack Smith telling the story of her son, the Prophet Joseph Smith. She was asked to play Lucy in “Legacy,” the 70mm special film created for the Legacy Theater on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. She also played Lucy for an entire summer in Nauvoo, Illinois. She also created “I Think of Mary,” in which she portrayed Mary, the Mother of Jesus. Both of these were produced as short films and distributed on video. Her one-woman shows toured throughout the Western and Northwestern United States and in Washington D.C. and Texas. She wrote and produced many original programs for the wards and stakes she attended.
She hosted her own weekly radio program (“Sabbath Prelude”) on KSL for five years. She taught speech and drama to hundreds of students. She served on the Board of Directors of the BYU Alumni Association. In 1997, BYU awarded her the emeriti alumni award for her selfless service to her community and the university.
She died in February 2004.