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Dina Merrill, heiress and actress, dies at 93

Dina Merrill, the rebellious heiress who defied her super-rich parents to become an actress, often portraying stylish wives or “the other woman,” has died. She was 93.

Merrill died Monday, according to a family spokeswoman. The cause of death and other details weren’t immediately available Tuesday.

With the help of Katharine Hepburn, who recommended her for the 1957 comedy “The Desk Set,” Merrill was a popular star for years, in part because of her resemblance to Grace Kelly. Her films included “Operation Petticoat,” “The Sundowners” and Robert Altman’s Hollywood satire “The Player.” She also was a dedicated philanthropist and supporter of the arts.

Merrill was the daughter of cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and E.F. Hutton, a multimillionaire industrialist and financier in his own right. One of her childhood homes was Mar-a-Lago, which her mother had built not long after her birth in 1923.

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Merrill was born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton in New York City on Dec. 29, 1923. She adopted her stage name when she began her film career.

Her first husband, Stanley Rumbough Jr., also came from a wealthy family and was an heir to the Colgate toothpaste fortune. After she divorced him to marry Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson in 1966, her name was removed from the New York Social Register.

She had expressed surprise that she’d still been included. A few years before her name was excised, Merrill had said: “It’s really so depressing to still be listed in the social register after all the acting I have done.”

At the time of her death, Merrill had been married to Ted Hartley since 1989.

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UPDATES:

8:50 a.m.: This article was updated with additional information about Merrill’s background.

This article was originally published at 8:15 a.m.


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