Dina Merrill, heiress and actress, died Monday May 22, 2017, at her East Hampton, N.Y. home. The former Broadway, movie and TV star was 93. She was the daughter of financier E.F. Hutton, the founder of the Wall Street firm, and heiress Majorire Merriweather Post, of the Post cereal fortune. Post had inherited $250 million dollars in 1914, and was, at one time, the richest woman in the U.S., according to Variety.
Merrill married actor and producer Ted Hartley in 1989. They were still together when she passed away.
Here’s what you need to know about the 92-year-old Hartley:
1. Hartley Was a U.S. Navy Fighter Pilot
Ted Harley was born on November 6, 1924 in Omaha, NE. and raised on a farm in Iowa. His father died when he was very young. When Hartely was 14, he entered a writing contest sponsored by Warner Bros. His essay on “Why I Like to Fly”, won him flying lessons. He later attended Shattuck Military School, in Minnesota, and at the age of 16, had been accepted into the U.S. Naval Academy, in Annapolis, MD.
Upon Graduation from the Academy, Hartley had tours as a congressional liaison for the Pentagon, as a Presidential aide, and as a carrier-based pilot. In 1964, his F8 fighter jet crashed in carrier-landing accident. Hartley suffered a broken back and was medically retired from the Navy.
After the military, Hartley attended Harvard Business School and had a career as an investment banker.
2. Hartley Was an Actor
After getting out of investment banking, Hartley pursued a career in acting. One of Hartely’s first roles was as Reverend Jerry Bedford on the 1960’s TV series, “Peyton Place”. In the 70’s, he was cast in his own series, ABC’s Chopper One, about helicopter flying police officers, but the show was short lived, according to IMDb.
Hartley’s most memorable movie role was in “High Plains Drifter” (1973). Hartley played Lewis Belding in the popular Western. Clint Eastwood starred in and directed the movie, about a mysterious stranger, out for justice in a corrupt mining town.
Hartley made appearances on several TV shows including Ironside, Barnaby Jones, McCloud and Husbands, Wives & Lovers. He also had a role in “Barefoot in the Park” (1967), alongside Robert Redford and Jane Fonda.
Hartley had a small part in “Caddyshack II” (1998), which Merrill also starred in. Hartley more recently starred in “Race to Witch Mountain”, with The Rock, in 2009.
3. Hartley Was a Producer
In 1987, Hartley became involved in Pavilion Communications Inc., a company designed to acquire smaller entertainment companies. In 1991, Hartley and Merrill bought 51 percent of the company RKO Pictures. They merged Pavilion Communications and RKO Pictures to form RKO Pictures LLC.
The first major project of the new company was a remake of Disney’s “Mighty Joe Young”, starring Charlize Theron, and the late Bill Paxton.
Hartley also produced “A Late Quartet”(2012), which starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christopher Walken and Catherine Keener and, most recently, “Barley Lethal”, with Jaime King, Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Alba.
4. Hartley Was Merrill’s Third Husband
Before marrying Hartley, Merrill had two previous marriages.
Merrill’s first husband, Stanley M. Rumbough Jr., was an heir to the Colgate-Palmolive toothpaste fortune. The couple tied the know in 1946 and had three children together. The two divorced in 1966. Their son, David Post Rumbough, died in a boating accident in 1973. He was 23 and had type 1 diabetes. Merrill would later sponsor and yearly award in his name, honoring excellent scientific research dedicated to preventing type 1 diabetes.
After divorcing Rumbough Jr., Merrill married Oscar-winning actor Cliff Robertson. Merrill and Robertson would star together as guest villains on TV’s Batman. They also starred together in “The Sunshine Patriot”, in 1968. The couple divorced in 1989. Robertson died in 2011.
5. Hartley and Merrill Marriage
According to People, Hartley had fallen for Merrill almost 30 years before they eventually tied the knot. Hartley had been playing tennis with Merrill’s husband, Rumbourgh Jr., when he first laid eyes on Merrill. Hartley said he knew “this incredibly beautiful woman would someday be part of my life.”
The tennis match had been arranged by Merrill’s mom, Marjoie Merriweather Post, when she met Hartley at the White House. Hartely was serving as an aid at the White House under President Eisenhower at the time.
After a lengthy wait, Hartley finally got his wish, when the two married in 1989.
In addition to working together with RKO Pictures LLC, they created the Hartley Merrill International Screenwriting Prize. The couple received a special prize at the Hamptons Film Festival in 1998, for their support of screen writers in developing nations.
Hartley has one son, Philippe Hartley. Philippe had a brief acting career, with roles in “Electric Coffee” (1994), “Night Canvas” (1995) and “A Place for My Head” (2006).
Ted Hartley was also stepfather to Merrill’s four children.
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