By every means, Dina Merrill could have chosen not to work, or choose a line of work that demanded very little of her. Even when she decided to pursue acting as a profession, she could have decided to do the bare minimum, safe in the comfort of the knowledge that she is the daughter of two very wealthy parents. But such was her commitment to her crafts that until her death in 2017 she worked hard, combining her work ethic with her talents to become one of the notable actresses to live through the 50s to the 90s, to earn herself respectable awards such as the American Academy of Dramatic Arts lifetime achievement award. Learn more about one of Hollywood’s richest actresses below.
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 nutured 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 theatre 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 business people, 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.
Every year, the list of the richest actresses in the world is a revolving door, with the names and positions of various actresses on the light changing depending on the success of their work/s in a given year, but one name that remained number one for a very long time was Dina Merrill. With a net worth of $5 billion, she is the richest actress to ever live.
Married and Family Life – Husband, 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.