Actress and rebellious heiress, Dina Merill, who defied her super-rich parents to become a movie star, often portraying stylish wives or “the other woman,” has died at age 93.
Merrill, raised in part at the Mar a Lago estate in Florida now owned by President Donald Trump, died Monday, according to a family spokeswoman.
Merrill had Lewy Body dementia, according to her son, Stanley H. Rumbough.
Starting in the 1950s, Merrill appeared in more than 100 films and television programs, her break coming after Katharine Hepburn recommended her for the 1957 Tracy-Hepburn comedy “The Desk Set.” Merrill, who had the poised, aristocratic beauty of fellow blonde Grace Kelly, co-starred with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis in “Operation Petticoat,” Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr in “The Sundowners” and Oscar winner Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8.” More recently, she was part of Robert Altman’s ensemble cast for the Hollywood satire “The Player” and in television programs such as “Murder, She Wrote” and “The Nanny.”
But becoming an actress was not considered proper for someone of Merrill’s privileged status. Her mother was Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune and one of the nation’s richest women. Her father was E.F. Hutton, founder of the stockbroker firm that bore his name. Heiress Barbara Hutton was a cousin.
“Mother was politically and diplomatically and every which way well connected,” Merrill remarked in 2000, “but she didn’t know anyone in show business. Of course my parents’ eyebrows shot up when I said I wanted to be an actress. And I guess they said, really between themselves, ‘Let the dear girl try and fall on her face.’”
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