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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 09:39 GMT 10:39 UK
US opera star Robert Merrill dies
Robert Merrill
Robert Merrill died on Saturday at his home
Opera singer Robert Merrill, famed for his renditions of The Star-Spangled Banner at the New York Yankees' baseball stadium, has died in New York.

The baritone sang for 31 consecutive seasons with the city's Metropolitan Opera and also performed alongside Frank Sinatra and Louis Armstrong.

He also sang for several presidents including John F Kennedy.

There is uncertainty about his date of birth, with some reports saying he died aged 85 and some claiming he was 87.

Merrill sang dozens of roles, including Figaro in the Barber of Seville and Escamillo in Carmen.

Baseball enthusiast

He also appeared on TV and radio, making his debut on NBC's Saturday Night Review in 1949.

Merrill grew up in Brooklyn, the son of shoe salesman Abraham Merrill and Lillian Balaban.

His mother was an opera singer and guided Merrill through his early musical training.

He was first inspired to take up singing as a professional career after seeing a Metropolitan Opera performance of Il Trovatore.

A lifelong fan of baseball, he sang the US national anthem on the opening day of the baseball season for three decades.

Merrill is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter and grandchildren, said family friend Barry Tucker.

Washington PostRobert Merrill, The Mensch of the Metropolitan Opera - 10 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Baseball baritone dies at 87 - 15 hrs ago
ABCNEWS.com Opera Star Robert Merrill Dies at 85 - 17 hrs ago
Herald Tribune Opera star Robert Merrill dies at 85 - 19 hrs ago
Reuters UK Opera star Robert Merrill dies - 22 hrs ago
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