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 (age 93)
New York, New York, U.S.
Education George Washington University
American Academy of Dramatic Arts
Occupation Actress, socialite, businesswoman and philanthropist
Years active 1945–2009
Spouse(s) Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr.
(m. 1946; div. 1966)

Cliff Robertson
(m. 1966; div. 1989)

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

Dina Merrill (born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton; December 29, 1923) is an American actress, socialite, businesswoman and philanthropist.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Merrill was born in New York City on December 29, 1923, although for many years her year of birth was given as 1925.[4][5] She is the only child of Post Cereals heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and her second husband, the Wall Street stockbroker Edward Francis Hutton.[6] 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.[7] She received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in April 2005.[8]


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.[9] Merrill made her debut on the stage in the play The Mermaid Singing in 1945.

During the late 1950s and 1960s, Merrill was believed to have intentionally been marketed as a replacement to Grace Kelly,[3] and in 1959 she was proclaimed "Hollywood's new Grace Kelly".[10]

Merrill's film credits include 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 regularly as a guest star on numerous television series in the 1960s, notably as a villain, "Calamity Jan," in two 1968 episodes of Batman alongside then-husband Cliff Robertson. She also made guest appearances on Bonanza and The Love Boat.

Her stage credits include the 1983 Broadway revival of the Rodgers & 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.[11]

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 copyright to the films and intellectual property of RKO Radio Pictures movie studio).

Personal life[edit]

Merrill has been married three times. In 1946 she wed Stanley M. Rumbough, Jr., an heir to the Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste fortune and an entrepreneur. They had three children before they divorced in 1966:

  • Nedenia Colgate Rumbough
  • David Post Rumbough (d. 1973)
  • Stanley M. Rumbough III

Later in 1966 she wed Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson, with whom she had:

  • Heather Robertson (d. 2007)

In 1989 she married former actor Ted Hartley. Two of Merrill's four children predeceased their parents – David died in a boating accident in 1973; Heather died of cancer in 2007.[12][13]

In 2015 Merrill and Hartley held a cocktail reception to benefit Lewy body dementia at their New York apartment.[14] Hartley announced that Merrill suffered from the disease as well, and was in "an advanced stage". He claimed that she now has difficulty in speaking and understanding complicated sentences.[15]

Board memberships[edit]

She is 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.[9][16]


  1. ^ Dina Merrill Net Worth, CelebrityNetWorth.com; accessed August 13, 2014.
  2. ^ Gingrich, Arnold (May 1960). Coronet. D. A. Smart. p. 13. 
  3. ^ 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. 
  4. ^ Date of birth given as December 29, 1923; hillwoodmuseum.org; accessed December 31, 2013.
  5. ^ Date of birth given as December 29, 1923, paulbowles.org; accessed December 31, 2013.
  6. ^ Dina Merrill profile ar FilmReference.com
  7. ^ http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1993-02-28/features/9303185687_1_social-register-ted-hartley-movie
  8. ^ 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. 
  9. ^ 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. 
  10. ^ "DINA MERRILL: A STAR ON HER TOES". The New York Times. April 3, 1983. Retrieved April 9, 2014. 
  11. ^ Wit & Wisdom, theatermania.com; accessed December 27, 2013.
  12. ^ "Fortune, fame...and tragic deaths". The Chicago Tribune. 1975-11-17. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  13. ^ "Deaths ROBERTSON, HEATHER MERRIWEATHER". The New York Times. 2007-05-02. Retrieved 2016-07-14. 
  14. ^ https://www.lbda.org/content/family-and-friends-gather-new-york-support-lbd
  15. ^ https://www.facebook.com/mariposa.maraki/videos/10156026016685293
  16. ^ 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. 

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