Vivien Merchant (born July 22, 1929 in Manchester, England; died October 3, 1983) was a British actress, who was born Ada Thompson.
Despite her talent and many film appearances - including Alfie (1966) and Frenzy (1972), 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 on stage (1965) and screen (1973) and in the original production of The Room (1960). Their marriage began disintegrating in the mid-1960s and Pinter left Merchant suddenly in 1977 to live with historian Lady Antonia Fraser, daughter of the 7th Earl Longford, who left her husband, Sir Hugh Fraser.
Harold Pinter had also been unfaithful with Joan Bakewell previously, about which he wrote the dramatic play, Betrayal, which ended up on Broadway.
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, which finally came about in 1980, and her premature death at the age of 54 on October 3, 1983 was brought about by acute alcoholism.