How did Merlin Santana die? Cause of death, daughter, net worth

March 22, 2024
5 mins read

Who was Merlin Santana?

Merlin Santana was born in New York City, USA, on 14 March 1976 – his zodiac sign was Pisces, and he held American nationality. He was an actor and a rapper, who appeared in more than 20 movies and TV series, while he’s perhaps still remembered best for his portrayal of one of the main characters Romeo Santana, in the comedy “The Steve Harvey Show”. It was created by Winifred Hervey, also starred Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer, and follows the former funk star Steve Hightower who has begun working as a music teacher at a Chicago high school; the series aired from 1996 to 2002, and won 14 of the 31 award for which it was nominated.

How did he die?

Merlin was shot on 9 November 2002, while driving in the passenger seat with his friend Brandon Quintin Adams, a popular American actor. The bullet had entered the car through the trunk, and went through Merlin’s head, killing him instantly.

Damien Andre Gates was convicted of the murder in 2003, and sentenced to spend over 70 years in prison plus three life sentences; his accomplice Brandon Douglas Bynes was sentenced to spend 23 years in jail.

Early life and education

Merlin was raised in New York City by his Dominican parents, about whom nothing’s known as Merlin respected their privacy; he didn’t talk about having any siblings, and most of his fans believe that he was an only child.

He was somewhat thrown into the modelling and entertainment industries, as he was only three years old when his parents took him to an audition which Merlin won, and he appeared in a commercial for a local fast food chain. He became more interested in acting upon enrolling at a local elementary school; Merlin was a member of the school’s drama club, and appeared in several plays performed both at the school and at a community theatre.


He enrolled at high school in 1990, and the following year saw him launch his acting career, with his portrayal of Marvin in the episodes “Sins of the Father” and “The Possible Dream” of the popular family comedy series “Major Dad”. It was created by Richard C. Okie and Earl Pomerantz, starred Gerald McRaney, Shanna Reed and Nicole Dubuc, and follows a conservative Marine who has proposed to a liberal reporter, and promised to take care of her three daughters; the series aired from 1989 to 1993, and won two of the 11 awards for which it was nominated, including a Primetime Emmy nomination.

Merlin then continued acting until his death. He matriculated in 1994, and didn’t attend college.

Roles in TV series

In 1991, Merlin appeared in the episode “Mushrooms” of the mystery crime drama “Law & Order”, and the following year saw him play Stanley, in seven episodes of the romantic family comedy “The Cosby Show”, created by Michael Leeson, and which starred Bill Cosby, Phylicia Rashad and Keshia Knight Pulliam. It follows the lives of members of a wealthy African-American family, and aired from 1984 to 1992, winning 61 awards including six Primetime Emmys, while it was nominated for 58 other awards.

In 1993 and 1994, Merlin starred as Marcus Dixon in the family comedy “Getting By”, and some of his following roles were in the 1994 episode “Joey’s Choice” of the family comedy drama “Sister, Sister”, six episodes of the drama “Under One Roof” in 1995, and 13 episodes of the drama “Street Gear” in 1995.


He was then cast to play Calvin in the family sports comedy “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper”, created by Jeff Franklin, and which starred Mark Curry, Holly Robinson Peete and Sandra Quarterman. It follows the life of a teacher and his housemates, the series aired from 1992 to 1997, and won two of the nine awards for which it was nominated.

Three of Merlin’s final roles in TV series were in the 1999 episode “Independence Day” of the family comedy drama “Moesha”, the 2002 episode “Port Chicago” of the action crime drama “JAG”, and the 2002 episode “The Big Pimpin’ Episode” of the comedy “Half & Half”.

Roles in movies

Merlin made his debut film appearance with his portrayal of Newsboy in the 1991 musical mystery drama “The Cabinet of Dr. Ramirez”, and he gained recognition in the following year, when cast to appear in the action thriller drama “In the Line of Duty: Street War”.

Merlin Santana

It was directed by Dick Lowry, starred Ray Sharkey, Peter Boyle and Courtney B. Vance, and follows a police officer who wants to avenge his partner’s death.

A couple of Merlin’s following roles were in the 1996 drama “Harambee!”, the 2000 short drama “The Smoker” and the 2001 drama “Flossin”. In 2002, he was cast to play Hector in the action crime comedy “Showtime”, directed by Tom Dey, and which starred Robert De Niro, Eddie Murphy and Rene Russo. It follows two police officers who have partnered up and are starring in a TV show, which follows them as they’re trying to catch the manufacturer and seller of firearms; the movie won one of the seven awards for which it was nominated.

Two of his final roles were in the 2002 drama “Play’d: A Hip Hop Story”, and the 2003 comedy “The Blues” (released after his death).


Other credits

Merlin made a guest appearance in the 2001 episode “The Matrimony Test” of the talk-show “The Test”.

The 2020 episode “FlickIt Presents! Hall Pass” of the comedy series “Pretty Dudes” was made in his memory.

Awards and nominations

Merlin was nominated for five awards, all for his performance in “The Steve Harvey Show”: these were for two American Latino Media Arts (ALMA) Awards, two National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards and an NCLR Bravo Award.

Relationships and daughter

Merlin preferred to keep the details of his love life to himself, but it’s believed by many that he was in a relationship with the American author Karrine Steffans in 2001. Karrine was born on 24 August 1978, and is probably known best for her “Vixen” series of books.

She and Merlin were apparently spotted spending time together on multiple occasions in 2001, but Karrine hasn’t confirmed the rumors regarding her alleged relationship with Merlin.

At the time of his death, Merlin was apparently in a relationship with a non-celebrity African-American woman, who had given birth to their daughter Melinda Santana a couple of months earlier.

Hobbies and other interests

Merlin was apparently a highly sociable person, who had many friends and enjoyed making people laugh. He was very close with Brandon Quintin Adams, who was driving the car when Merlin was shot. He was also good friends with Steve Harvey, who has since become one of the most popular people in the entertainment industry.


Merlin was physically quite active, and had multiple training sessions at the gym each week. He also enjoyed playing sports with his friends in his spare time, and his favorites were basketball and soccer.

He had his own favorite actors and actresses, some of whom were Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep, while some of Merlin’s favorite movies were “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, “Dirty Harry”, and “A Fistful of Dollars”.

Age, height and net worth

Merlin was 26 years old at the time of his death. He had short black hair and brown eyes, his height was 5ft 10ins (1.8m) and he weighed around 165lbs (75kgs).

At the time of his death, Merlin’s net worth was estimated at over $300,000.

Olivia Wilson

As the Freelance Writer at Net Worth Post, I steer producing riveting stories about the lives and triumphs of influencers. With an unwavering commitment to precision and a flair for weaving compelling tales, I guide our content creation, from the depths of research to the pinnacle of narrative excellence. My responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of editorial management, including the meticulous investigation, narrative development, and upholding the integrity and high standard of our output.

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