Monday, May 22, 2017

Obituary: Dina Merrill

Finally, after a couple of weeks of obituaries by people I never heard of but have been deemed to have been important by the obituary writers, someone prominent has died. Dina Merrill, 93, who went into acting despite her richer-than-rich background and the skepticism of her family, has died. According to her husband, she died of Lewy body dementia.

Beautiful and elegant, Merrill made many appearances on television and film over the years. One of her husbands was actor Cliff Robertson.

She didn't need to work, coming from the E.F. Hutton and Post families, but she didn't want to spend her life living off trust funds and inheritances. That made her okay in my book.

Merrill was also involved in a lot of philanthropy.


Nedenia Marjorie Hutton was born in New York on Dec. 29, 1923, and she grew up amid more than plenty. Her family’s Manhattan apartment had 66 rooms, and their retreat on the North Shore of Long Island had 59, in addition to a pool, tennis courts and a horse show ring. Their sprawling South Florida showplace, Mar-a-Lago, was purchased in 1985 by businessman and future president Donald Trump, who converted it into a private club.

The Huttons entertained on a lavish scale, sometimes hiring the cast of Broadway shows and members of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus to perform privately for family and guests. But amid splendor, the Hutton-Post marriage was in distress, with Marjorie convinced that her husband was philandering with a maid. They divorced.

Meanwhile, Dina, as she became known, graduated in 1941 from Washington’s Mount Vernon Seminary, where she excelled at field hockey and served as president of the dramatic club. Both activities went against her mother’s wishes, the first because she felt it was unladylike to sweat, the second because it signaled career aspirations other than marriage and motherhood.

I'm glad she didn't listen to her mother. I did the same thing, not listening to my mother. I did jettison the marriage and babies crap, unlike Dina, and am glad I did. It would never have worked for me.

She outlived two of her four children. She also had ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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