Merrill Lee Connally, Sr., was an American film actor, a county administrative judge, a rancher, and a brother of both Governor John B. Connally, Jr., and Texas State Senator Wayne Connally.
Connally was born, reared, and died in Floresville, the seat of Wilson County southeast of San Antonio. His parents were John Connally, Sr., a hard-working and industrious tenant farmer, and the former Lela Wright. The senior Connally once ran for Wilson County clerk. In addition to Wayne and John, Merrill had five other siblings. Merrill Connally served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II.
He portrayed Davy Crockett in the 1988 picture Alamo: The Price of Freedom. He also appeared in Steven Spielberg's Sugarland Express and Close Encounters of the Third Kind In the filming of Close Encounters in 1977, Connally was known on the roll-call sheets as "The American Eagle" because of his shock of white hair and his authoritarian demeanor. He physically resembled his brother John. Spielberg was so impressed with Connally's diction that he kept taking lines of dialogue from other actors to give Connally a greater part.