Dina Merrill

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Dina Merrill
Dina Merrill 1968.JPG
Publicity photo of Merrill in 1968
Born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton
(1923-12-29)December 29, 1923
New York City, U.S.
Died May 22, 2017(2017-05-22) (aged 93)
East Hampton, New York, U.S.
Education George Washington University
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
Occupation Actress, socialite, businesswoman, philanthropist
Years active 1945–2009
Stanley M. Rumbough Jr.
(m. 1946; div. 1966)

Cliff Robertson
(m. 1966; div. 1986)

Ted Hartley
(m. 1989)
Children 4
Parent(s) Edward Francis Hutton
Marjorie Merriweather Post
Relatives Eleanor Post Close (half-sister)
C. W. Post (grandfather)
Barbara Hutton (cousin)

Dina Merrill (born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton; December 29, 1923 – May 22, 2017) was an American actress, heiress, socialite, businesswoman, and philanthropist.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Merrill was born in New York City on December 29, 1923, although for many years her date of birth was given as December 9, 1925.[3][4] She was the only child of Post Cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, Wall Street stockbroker Edward Francis Hutton, founder of E. F. Hutton & Co.[5] Merrill had two older half-sisters, Adelaide Breevort (Close) Hutton (July 26, 1908 – December 31, 1998) and Eleanor Post (Close) Hutton (December 3, 1909 – November 27, 2006), by her mother's first marriage to Edward Bennett Close, grandfather of actress Glenn Close.

Merrill attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., for one term, then dropped out and enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.[6] She received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in April 2005.[7]

Acting career[edit]

On advice from her half-sister's (then) husband, she adopted the stage name Dina Merrill, borrowing from Charles E. Merrill, a famous stockbroker like her father.[8] Merrill made her debut on the stage in the play The Mermaid Singing in 1945.[citation needed]

During the late 1950s and 1960s, Merrill was believed to have intentionally been marketed as a replacement for Grace Kelly,[2] and in 1959 she was proclaimed "Hollywood's new Grace Kelly".[9]

Merrill's film credits included Desk Set (1957), A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed (1958), Don't Give Up the Ship (1959), Operation Petticoat (1959, with Cary Grant, who had been married to her cousin, Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton), The Sundowners (1960), Butterfield 8 (1960), The Young Savages (1961), The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963), I'll Take Sweden (1965), The Greatest (1977), A Wedding (1978), Just Tell Me What You Want (1980), Anna to the Infinite Power (1983), Twisted (1986), Caddyshack II (1988), Fear (1990), True Colors (1991), The Player (1992), Suture (1993) and Shade (2003). She also appeared in made-for-TV movies, such as Seven in Darkness (1969), The Lonely Profession (1969), Family Flight (1972) and The Tenth Month (1979).

Merrill appeared in numerous television series in the 1960s, such as playing the villain, "Calamity Jan," in two 1968 episodes of Batman alongside then-husband Cliff Robertson. She also made guest appearances on Bonanza, The Bold Ones, The Love Boat, Quincy, M.E., Murder, She Wrote, Roseanne and The Nanny, as Maxwell Sheffield's disapproving and distant British mother.

Her stage credits include the 1983 Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes, starring Russian prima ballerina Natalia Makarova. In 1991, she appeared in the rotating cast of the off-Broadway staged reading of Wit & Wisdom.[10]

Merrill, Bobby Short & Dick Sheridan in New York City (1970)

In 1991, Merrill and her third husband, Ted Hartley, merged their company, Pavilion Communications, with RKO to form RKO Pictures, which owns the intellectual property of the RKO Radio Pictures movie studio.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Merrill was a recurring guest on several network television game and panel shows including The Match Game, To Tell the Truth, What's My Line, and Hollywood Squares.

Board memberships[edit]

Merrill was a presidential appointee to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, a trustee of the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, and a vice president of the New York City Mission Society. In 1980, Merrill joined the board of directors of her father's E. F. Hutton & Co., continuing on the board of directors and the compensation committee of Lehman Brothers when it acquired Hutton, for over 18 years.[8][11]

Personal life and death[edit]

Merrill was married three times. In 1946 she wed Stanley M. Rumbough Jr., an heir to the Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste fortune and entrepreneur.[12] They had three children[12] before divorcing in 1966.[13] Later that year, she wed Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson, with whom she had a daughter, Heather Robertson (1969–2007).[14] The couple divorced in 1986.[13]

In 1989, she married producer Ted Hartley.[12] Two of Merrill's four children predeceased her.[15][16]

On May 22, 2017, Merrill died at her home in East Hampton, New York. She had been suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies.[12]



  1. ^ Gingrich, Arnold (May 1960). Coronet. D. A. Smart. p. 13. 
  2. ^ a b Hamilton, George; Stadiem, William (October 14, 2008). Don't Mind If I Do. Simon and Schuster. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-4165-9450-5. 
  3. ^ "Date of birth given as December 29, 1923". hillwoodmuseum.org. Archived from the original on 2014-01-02. 
  4. ^ Dina Merrill date of birth: December 29, 1923, paulbowles.org; accessed December 31, 2013.
  5. ^ "Dina Merrill Biography". filmreference.com. Retrieved May 24, 2017. 
  6. ^ "A Touch Of Class". Retrieved May 24, 2017. 
  7. ^ Major, Nellie Leitch (January 1, 1963). C.W. Post - the hour and the man: A biography with genealogical supplement. Washington, DC: Press of Judd & Detweiler, Inc. p. 173. ASIN B0006AYYIS. 
  8. ^ a b Rowes, Barbara (1980-05-12). "An Actress Turns to Finance: History Proves That Both Dina Merrill and Her Daddy Knew Best". People. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  9. ^ "Dina Merrill: A Star on Her Toes". The New York Times. April 3, 1983. Retrieved April 9, 2014. (Subscription required (help)). 
  10. ^ Wit & Wisdom, theatermania.com; accessed December 27, 2013.
  11. ^ Gillespie, John (2010-01-12). Money for Nothing: How the Failure of Corporate Boards Is Ruining American Business and Costing Us Trillions. Free Press. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-4165-5993-1. 
  12. ^ a b c d Harmetz, Aljean (May 22, 2017). "Dina Merrill, Actress and Philanthropist, Dies at 93". The New York Times. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  13. ^ a b "Dina Merrill: Performer". Internet Broadway Database (The Broadway League. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  14. ^ Bernstein, Adam (May 22, 2017). "Dina Merrill, actress and philanthropist of aristocratic poise, dies at 93". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 23, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Fortune, fame...and tragic deaths". Chicago Tribune. 1975-11-17. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  16. ^ "Deaths Robertson, Heather Merriweather". The New York Times. 2007-05-02. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 

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