Born: 8 February 1940, Rome, Italy.
Merli's career started as uncredited extra in Visconti's 'The Leopard' (where incidentally Lou Castel also made his first uncredited movie appearance).
A talented actor, it is perhaps a little unfair to suggest that much of his success was down to his physical resemblance to Franco Nero, but this was certainly the reason for his casting in a 'White Fang' sequel when the original star was unavailable.
Perhaps too this was the reason why Sergio Martino chose Merli to play the lead as 'Mannaja' (aka 'Man Called Blade') - a late-period Spaghetti Western with gothic overtones that has many parallels to 'Keoma'. But Merli is excellent in the role and it is a shame that this is his only Italian Western appearance.
Instead Merli, following the international success of 'Roma Violenta', was very much a leading star of the Italian Crime genre.
One of his last film appearances was a minor role in 'The Name of the Rose' (where incidentally his 'Mannaja' co-star, Donald O'Brien, also has a minor role).Spaghetti credentials: