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Dina Merrill
Dina Merrill 1968.JPG
Publicity photo of Merrill in 1968 by John Engstead
Nedenia Marjorie Hutton

(1923-12-29)December 29, 1923
New York City, New York 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)

(m. 1966; div. 1989)

(m. 1989)
Children 4
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.

Early life

Merrill was born in New York City on December 29, 1923, but for many years, her date of birth was given as December 9, 1925. 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. Merrill had two older half-sisters, Adelaide Brevoort Close (July 26, 1908 – December 31, 1998) and Eleanor Post Hutton (December 3, 1909 – November 27, 2006), by her mother's first marriage to Edward Bennett Close, grandfather of actress Glenn Close.

Merrill graduated from Miss Porter's School, then attended George Washington University in Washington, DC for one term, but then enrolled at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. She studied acting at HB Studio under Uta Hagen.

Acting career

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. 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 been marketed as a replacement for Grace Kelly, and in 1959, she was proclaimed "Hollywood's new Grace Kelly".

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 with then-husband Cliff Robertson. She also made guest appearances on two Bonanza episodes as Susannah Clauson, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "Bonfire" (1962), The Investigators, The Bold Ones, Wagon Train (1964), Mission: Impossible, The Love Boat; Quincy, M.E.; Murder, She Wrote; Roseanne, and The Nanny, as Maxwell Sheffield's disapproving and distant British mother. In 1971, Merrill appeared as Laura Duff in The Men from Shiloh (rebranded name for the TV Western The Virginian) in the episode titled "The Angus Killer".

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.

Dina Merrill & Bobby Short
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 Match Game, To Tell the Truth, What's My Line, and Hollywood Squares.

Board memberships

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 and the compensation committee of Lehman Brothers when it acquired Hutton, for over 18 years.

Personal life

Dina Merrill 1999
Merrill in 1999

Merrill was married three times. In 1946, she wed Stanley M. Rumbough Jr., an heir to the Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste fortune and entrepreneur. They had three children, Nedenia Colgate Rumbough; David Post Rumbough; and Stanley Rumbough, III, before divorcing in 1966. Later that year, she wed actor Cliff Robertson, with whom she had a daughter, Heather Robertson. The couple divorced in 1986.

In 1989, she married producer Ted Hartley.

On May 22, 2017, Merrill died at her home in East Hampton, New York at age 93. She had been suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies.

Two of Merrill's four children predeceased her.


Merrill received the Women's International Center (WIC) Living Legacy Award, in 1994, and a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in April 2005.


Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1957 Desk Set Sylvia Blair
1958 A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed Margie Solitaire
1959 Don't Give Up the Ship Ensign Rita J. Benson
Operation Petticoat Second Lieutenant Barbara Duran, NC, USAR
Catch Me As You Can
1960 Butterfield 8 Emily Liggett
The Sundowners Jean Halstead
1961 The Young Savages Karin Bell
Twenty Plus Two Nicki Kovacs
1963 The Courtship of Eddie's Father Rita Behrens
I'll Take Sweden Karin Granstedt
1970 Aru heishi no kake Kelly Allen
1974 Throw Out the Anchor! Lindy Baker
1975 The Meal Kelly Fielding
1977 The Greatest Velvet Green
1978 A Wedding Antionette Goddard
1980 Just Tell Me What You Want Connie Herschel
1983 Anna to the Infinite Power Sarah Hart
1986 Twisted Neil Kempler
1988 Caddyshack II Cynthia Young
1990 Fear Catherine Tarr
1991 True Colors Joan Styles
1992 The Player Celia
1993 Suture Alice Jameson
1995 Open Season Doris Hays-Britton
Point of Betrayal Mother
1996 Milk & Money Ellen - David's Mother Executive Producer
1998 Mighty Joe Young Society Woman
1999 The Other Sister Pucky Uncredited
2000 Meeting Genevieve Mother Short movie
2003 Shade Dina
2009 Beyond a Reasonable Doubt Woman in Courtroom Uncredited

Television films

Year Title Role Notes
1961 Westinghouse Presents: The Dispossessed Annette DeGrande
1962 The Expendables Barbara
1962 "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" Bonfire Laura
1964 "Rawhide" Incident of the Gilded Goddess Lisa Temple (TV Episode, First aired April 30, 1964)
1968 The Sunshine Patriot Brancie Hagen
1969 Seven in Darkness Emily Garth
The Lonely Profession Beatrice Savarona
1971 Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones Vivian Greher
1972 Family Flight Florence Carlyle
1973 The Letters Penelope Parkington
Running Wild Whit Colby
1979 The Tenth Month Cele
1983 The Brass Ring Mother
1986 The Alan King Show Nan Cooper
1989 Turn Back the Clock Maureen Dowd
1993 Not in My Family Claire Worth
1997 Something Borrowed, Something Blue Lydia D'Arcy - Monique's Mother
1998 A Chance of Snow Merilee Parker
2002 The Magnificent Ambersons Mrs. Johnson
The Glow Phoebe Janusz


Year Title Role Notes
1955 Four Star Playhouse Marcia Episode: "A Place Full of Strangers"
1956 Playwrights '56 Sarah / Mrs. Neville Episode: "The Center of the Maze"

Episode: "Return to Cassino"

The Phil Silvers Show Lieutenant Roxberry /

WAC Lieutenant

Episode: "Bilko's Rest Cure"

Episode: "Bilko's War Against Culture"



Matinee Theatre Episode: "One for All"

Episode: "Day of Discoveries"

1958 Playhouse 90 Mary Episode: "The Time of Your Life"
Climax! Iris Farrar Episode: "Spider Web"
1959 Sunday Showcase Laurette Harrington Episode: "What Makes Sammy Run?: Part 1"

Episode: "What Makes Sammy Run?: Part 2"



The DuPont Show of the Month Laura Hudson / Julie Episode: "The Fallen Idol"

Episode: "Men in White"

1960 Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Aline Lincoln Episode: "Murder Is a Private Affair"
1961 The Investigators Valerie Corbin Episode: "Style of Living"
The United States Steel Hour Lisa Muller Episode: "Brandenburg Gate"
Hong Kong Helen Rowan Randolph Episode: "Lady Godiva"
1962 The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Laura Episode: "Bonfire"
The Dick Powell Theatre Mrs. Eve Emerson /

Carol Manson

Episode: "The Court Martial of Captain Wycliff"

Episode: "Obituary for Mr.X"

The New Breed Ruth Kingman Episode: "So Dark the Night"
Dr. Kildare Evelyn LeFevre Episode: "Oh, My Daughter"
Checkmate Laura Hammond Episode: "A Very Rough Sketch"
1963 Burke's Law Barrie Coleman Episode: "Who Killed Mr. X?"
The Eleventh Hour Rita Hall Episode: "Everybody Knows You Love Me"


Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Maralise / Joan Cowley Episode: "The Candidate"

Episode: "The Game"

1964 Kraft Suspense Theatre Jo Andrews Episode: "The Gun"
Mickey Angela Episode: "Seaside Westside"
Rawhide Lisa Temple Episode: "Incident of the Gilded Goddess


The Rogues Clothilde Bonheur /

Kendall Frazier

Episode: "The Personal Touch"

Episode: "A Daring Step Backward"

1965 Daniel Boone Madeline Lorne Episode: "The Tamarack Massacre Affair"


The F.B.I Christine Minton /

Jean Davis

Episode: "The Monsters"

Episode: "The Franklin Papers"

1966 Bonanza Susannah Clauson Episode: "The Pursued: Part 1"

Episode: "The Pursued: Part 2"

Daktari Janet Lorne Episode: "Trail of the Cheetah"
12 O'Clock High Capt. Patricia Bates Episode: "Which Way the Wind Blows"
1967 Run for Your Life Caroline Willins Episode: "East of the Equator"
A.B.C Stage 67 Ginny Weldon Episode: "The Trap of Solid Gold"
1968 Batman Calamity Jan Episode: "Penguin's Clean Sweep" (uncredited)

Episode: "The Great Escape"

Episode: "The Great Train Robbery"

1969 Mission: Impossible Meredyth Episode: "The Controllers Part 1"

Episode: "The Controllers Part 2"



The Name of the Game Maggie Payden /

Nancy Devlin

Episode: "The Incomparable Connie Walker"

Episode: "The Glory Shouter"

1971 The Bold Ones: The New Doctors Madeline Calvert Episode: "Angry Man"
Medical Center Ruth Marlowe Episode: "Perfection of Vices"
The Virginian Laura Duff Episode: "The Angus Killer"
1973 Cannon Doris Hawthorne Episode: "Murder By the Numbers"
Marcus Welby, M.D. Dr. Carol Brooks Episode: "A Cry in the Night"
Night Gallery Ruth Wilson Episode: "Hatred Until Death / How to Cure the Common Vampire"

Segment: "Hatred Unto Death"

1974 The Odd Couple Anita Episode: "Oscar in Love"
1975 Ellery Queen Harriet Manners Episode: "The Adventure of the 12th Floor Express"
Switch Luciana Episode: "Kiss of Death"
1976 Quincy M.E. Claire Garner Episode: "Who's Who In Neverland"
Hawaii Five-O Dr. Barbara Dalton Episode: "Nine Dragons"
Kingston: Confidential Helen Martinson Episode: "Kingston"
1977 The Hardy Boys / Nancy Drew Mysteries Thelma March Episode: "A Haunting We Will Go"
1979 The Love Boat Helen Ames 2 Episodes
Roots: The Next Generation Mrs. Hickinger TV Mini-Series

Episode: "Part V"

1980 Matt and Jenny Adelaide Alcott Episode: "The Actress"


Hotel Jessica Cabot /

Eleanor Blackwood

Episode: "Queen's Gambit"

Episode: "Opening Moves"

Episode: "The Wedding"

1984 Hot Pursuit Estelle Mordian 12 Episodes
1984 ”Tales of the Unexpected” Series 7, ep 18, “The Open Window” ”Marjorie”


Murder, She Wrote Monica Douglas /

Annie Floret

Episode: "Always a Thief"

Episode: "The Monte Carlo Murders"

1995 The Nanny Elizabeth Sheffield Episode: "The Two Mrs. Sheffields"
1996 Roseanne Doris Episode: "Hoi Polloi Meets Holti Toiti"
1998 Vengeance Unlimited Ellen Hayworth Episode: "Ambition"
2001 100 Centre Street Judge Helen Randolph Episode: "Bottlecaps"

See also

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