Dina Merrill Biography, Age, Children, Spouse, Causes of Death, GrandChildren, Son Death, And Movies

Dina Merrill Biography

Dina Merrill (full name: Nedenia Marjorie Hutton); December 29, 1923 – May 22, 2017) was an American actress, heiress, socialite, businesswoman, and philanthropist.

Who is Dina Merrill?

Before she became known to the general public as Dina Merrill, a name she chose at the advice of her half-sister’s husband, she was Nedenia Marjorie Hutton, daughter of Marjorie Merriweather Post and Edward Francis Hutton, two wealthy people who nurtured her after her birth on the 29th of December 1923 in New York City.

Unlike most actors and actresses, who grow up hoping to build a life for themselves and escape excruciating poverty through the profession, Dina was born a rich woman.

Her mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post was the heiress of a successful cereal company, Post Cereals while her father, Edward Francis Hutton was a wealthy stockbroker who established E.F Hutton & Co.


If Dina Merrill always had an interest in acting, one could not say, especially when it is considered that she initially enrolled in George Washington University, spending a session at the school before she transferred to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

It was a move that shaped the rest of Dina’s life, who despite being a popular actress, was also known as a socialite and businesswoman.

Dina’s professional acting career lasted 64 years, retiring in 2009 after she began her career in 1945. Like most actresses at the time, she began her career on stage, performing in the play, The Mermaid Singing, and that became the first of many theatres shows Dina Merrill would play in the first 10 years of her career.


The rest of her career after the debut became a series of excellence, starring in one film or television after the other, expressing her talents as an actress.

She starred in films like The Greatest, Operation Petticoat, Twisted, True Colors, and The Tenth Month. Throughout the 50s to the 60s, Dina Merrill’s performances and looks were very much likened to that of another popular and iconic actress, Grace Kelly, who other than being a talented actress, was also wealthy.

Despite being an actress, Dina was unable to shake off her image as a wealthy woman, and thus restricted the range of roles she could play.

Regardless, it did not affect the number of credits she went on to amass over the course of her career which totaled 110 at the end of her career across film and television.

In television, some of her acting credits include appearances in shows like Roseanne, The Bold Ones, The Love Boat, Quincy, Murder, She Wrote, and several others.


As the child of two businesspeople, Dina Merrill was alert to any business opportunity and when it came up in her line of work, to form a partnership with RKO, a production company with radio and movie arm, she made the move, merging her own company, Pavilion Communications with RKO to form what was known as RKO Pictures.

Her interesting life, which other than as an actress, included being a presidential appointee to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, ended on the 22nd of May, 2017 at the age of 93. At the time of her death, she was suffering from dementia.

Dina Merrill Age

Nedenia Marjorie Hutton (Dina Merrill) was 93 years old, Died: 22 May 2017, in East Hampton, New York, United States, and was born: 29 December 1923, in New York City, New York, United States.

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Dina Merrill Children

Dina Merrill during her lifetime did not hesitate to give love a chance. She got married three times while she was alive, marrying a couple of notable men.

The first was Stanley M. Rumbough Jr, who was the son and heir to the Colgate toothpaste empire.

Her second husband was Cliff Robertson, the first husband she got who was a part of the film industry. The actress’ marriage to Cliff was one of her longest, lasting 20 years. Her last husband, who she was with until her death was Ted Hartley. The marriage began in 1989.

Her three marriages produced four children. She had three children with Stanley M. Rumbough. Jr. and a solitary daughter with Cliff Robertson.

Her daughter with Cliff, Heather Robertson died in 2007, ten years before her own death in 2017. Dina Merrill’s other children are Nedenia Colgate Rumbough, David Post Rumbough, and Stanley Rumbough III.

Dina Merrill 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 of directors and the compensation committee of Lehman Brothers when it acquired Hutton, for over 18 years. Read also Howard Schultz

Dina Merrill Spouse

  • Ted Hartley
    m. 1989
  • Cliff Robertson
    m. 1966–1989
  • Stanley M. Rumbough Jr.
    m. 1946–1966

After a divorce, she married the actor Cliff Robertson. The second marriage lasted 20 years, and Ms. Merrill later married Ted Hartley, who was chairman of RKO Pictures.

One of her children with Mr. Rumbough died in a boating accident at age 23, and her daughter with Mr. Robertson—who was a resident of Water Mill when he died in 2011—died of cancer in 2007.

Mr. Hartley, who was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot before going into investment banking, is now 98 years old and is the current CEO of RKO Pictures.

Dina Merrill Early life

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. 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 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.

She studied acting at HB Studio under Uta Hagen. She received a lifetime achievement award from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in April 2005.

Dina Merrill Image

Heiress turned actress Dina Merrill dies at 93 - Starts at 60

 Personal life and death

Merrill was married three times. In 1946 Shewed 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 Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson, with whom she had a daughter, Heather Robertson (1968–2007). The couple divorced in 1986.

In 1989, she married producer, Ted Hartley. Two of Merrill’s four children predeceased her. On May 22, 2017, Merrill died at her home in East Hampton, New York. She had been suffering from dementia with Lewy bodies.

 Cause of Death

Heiress turned actress, Dina Merrill passed away at the age of 93 in her East Hampton, New York home.

Hollywood lost another brilliant actress as her death was confirmed by her son, Stanley H. Rumbough, who stated Dina Merrill’s cause of death is not yet known, but it was revealed that she suffered from Lewy Body dementia. Keep reading for interesting details about the late actress.

Dina Merrill Grand Children

Merrill is survived by her husband, Ted Hartley, son Stanley Hutton Rumbough, daughter Nedenia Rumbough Roosenburg, and six grandchildren.

Dina’s 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 intentionally been marketed as a replacement for Grace Kelly. Therefore, in 1959 she was proclaimed “Hollywood’s new Grace Kelly”.

Merrill’s film credits

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).

Again, 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).

Television series

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.

Moreover, her stage credits include the 1983 Broadway revival of the Rodgers and Hart musical On Your Toes, starring Russian prima ballerina Natalia Makarova.

Reading of Wit & Wisdom

In 1991, she appeared in the rotating cast of the off-Broadway staged reading of Wit & Wisdom. 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.

Additionally, 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.

Dina’s Son Death

Her son David Post Rumbough (DOB: September 27, 1949) was killed in a boating accident on September 8, 1973, when the twin-engine racing boat in which he was riding capsized in choppy seas in Gardiner’s Bay off eastern Long Island. His remains were recovered on September 13th.

Dina Merrill House

dina merrill The House | Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library Elizabeth  Taylor and Dina Merrill during Malcolm Forbes ...


The actress took her step-sister’s husband’s advice and adopted the stage name, Dina Merrill. In 1945, she made her debut on stage in the play, The Mermaid Singing.

Throughout her career as an actress, Dina worked on several films such as Desk Set, Don’t Give Up the Ship, The Young Savages, I’ll Take Sweden, True Colors, and Shade.

TV movies

Dina is also known for TV movies like The Lonely Profession, Family Flight, and The Tenth Month. She even had appearances in shows like Murder She Wrote, The Nanny, Vengeance Unlimited, and The Love Boat.

Her father did not approve of her dreams to become an actress. In a 1979 interview, Dina revealed, “It never occurred to me to ask my father or mother to pay for something they didn’t believe in. My ambitions were my own — not exactly the ones they had for me.”

Dina Merrill was an American heiress, socialite, philanthropist, and actress  Dina Merrill was born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton in New York City on December 29, 1923.

She was the only child of Post Cereals heiress, Marjorie Merriweather Post, and her second husband, the Wall Street stockbroker, Edward Francis “EF” Hutton.


Dina attended the prestigious Miss Porter’s School and she studied at the George Washington University for a time before dropping out to enroll at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.

She had a successful stage, screen, and television acting career. Merrill appeared in 22 films including “Desk Set”, “Operation Petticoat”, “The Sundowners”, “Butterfield 8”, “The Young Savages”, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, “A Wedding”, “True Colors”, and “The Player”.

Marriage life

Merril has been married three times. In 1946 she married Stanley Rumbough, Jr., an heir to the Colgate-Palmolive fortune, and had three children with him.

They divorced in 1966. That same year she married actor Cliff Robertson and had a daughter with him. They divorced in 1986.

In 1989, she married actor Ted Hartley. She was a presidential appointee to the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Furthermore, Dina was one of the wealthiest actresses in the world, but it should be noted that the majority of her wealth comes from inheritance.

Dina Merrill Net Worth

Dina’s mother, Marjorie Merriweather Post, was at one time the richest woman in the United States. At the age of 27 in 1914, Marjorie’s father died and left her with a $250 million fortune.

Her fortune was equal to $5 billion after adjusting for inflation at the time of her death. Dina Merrill died on May 22, 2017, at the age of 93.

Accordingly, Dina Merrill’s net worth is estimated to be $5.0 billion at the time of her death.

Dina Merrill Movies


  • Desk Set (1957) as Sylvia Blair
  • A Nice Little Bank That Should Be Robbed (1958) as Margie Solitaire
  • Don’t Give Up the Ship (1959) as Ensign Rita J. Benson
  • Operation Petticoat (1959) as Second Lieutenant Barbara Duran, NC, USAR
  • Catch Me As You Can (1959)


  • Butterfield 8 (1960) as Emily Liggett
  • The Sundowners (1960) as Jean Halstead
  • The Young Savages (1961) as Karin Bell
  • Twenty Plus Two (1961) as Nicki Kovacs
  • Westinghouse Presents: The Dispossessed (TV – 1961) as Annette DeGrande
  • The Expendables (TV – 1962) as Barbara
  • The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963) as Rita Behrens
  • I’ll Take Sweden (1963) as Karin Granstedt
  • The Sunshine Patriot (TV – 1968) as Brancie Hagen
  • Seven in Darkness (TV – 1969) as Emily Garth
  • The Lonely Profession (TV – 1969) as Beatrice Savarona


  • Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones (TV – 1971) as Vivian Greher
  • Family Flight (TV – 1972) as Florence Carlyle
  • The Letters (TV – 1973) as Penelope Parkington
  • Running Wild (TV – 1973) as Whit Colby
  • Throw Out the Anchor! (1974) as Lindy Baker
  • The Meal (1975) as Kelly Fielding
  • The Greatest (1977) as Velvet Green
  • A Wedding (1978) as Antionette Goddard


  • Just Tell Me What You Want (1980) as Connie Herschel
  • The Brass Ring (TV – 1983) as Mother
  • Anna to the Infinite Power (1983) as Sarah Hart
  • The Alan King Show (TV – 1986) as Nan Cooper
  • Twisted (1986) as Neil Kempler
  • Caddyshack II (1988) as Cynthia Young
  • Turn Back the Clock (TV – 1989) as Maureen Dowd


  • Fear (1990) as Catherine Tarr
  • True Colors (1991) as Joan Styles
  • The Player (1992) as Celia
  • Not in My Family (TV – 1993) as Claire Worth
  • Suture (1993) as Alice Jameson
  • Open Season (1995) as Doris Hays-Britton
  • Point of Betrayal (1995)
  • Milk & Money (1996) as Ellen – David’s Mother
  • The Tenth Month (TV – 1997) as Cele
  • Something Borrowed, Something Blue (1997) as Lydia D’Arcy – Monique’s Mother
  • A Chance of Snow (TV – 1998) as Merilee Parker
  • Mighty Joe Young (1998) as Society Woman
  • The Other Sister (1999) as Pucky (uncredited)


  • The Magnificent Ambersons (2002) as Mrs. Johnson
  • The Glow (2002) as Phoebe Janusz
  • Shade (2003) as Dina
  • Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (2009) as Woman in Courtroom (uncredited)

Last Updated on:26th February 2023