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Hamptons Life

Aug 3, 2018 1:58 PMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Dina Merrill's House Sells For $8.2M In East Hampton Village

Dina Merrill, Bobby Short and Dick Sheridan in New York City in 1970. COURTESY DICK SHERIDAN
Aug 6, 2018 1:01 PM

We don’t really have any intel on the property at 8 West Dune Lane in the Village of East Hampton other than it is a 1-acre lot with a house on it, and it sold recently for $8.2 million. But the seller, Nedenia Hartley, had an illustrious life.

Who? Most people knew Ms. Hartley by her stage name: Dina Merrill. The actress, philanthropist and longtime local resident—and last surviving daughter of Edward Francis Hutton and Marjorie Merriweather Post—died in May 2017 at 93. It apparently took over a year to work out the sale of her property, with the buyers being Donald Handelman and Nedenia Rumbough. That name is familiar because Ms. Rumbough is the daughter of Ms. Merrill’s first marriage.

Ms. Merrill grew up in the lap of luxury, with homes in New York and Florida—the latter being the 115-room Mar-a-Lago estate that was purchased in 1985 by Donald Trump. She spent quite a bit of time at sea, too. The “Sea Cloud” family yacht hosted high-profile guests including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Though encouraged by her father to pursue a law career, Ms. Merrill turned to acting. She made her Broadway debut in “The Mermaid Singing” in 1945. The acting career was interrupted by her marriage to Stanley Rumbough Jr., an heir to the Colgate-Palmolive fortune, and raising their three children. Her first movie role was not until 1957, in “Desk Set” with Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. She went on to play the wife who loses her husband to Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8,” loses her boyfriend to Shirley Jones in “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father,” and manages to hold on to Burt Lancaster in “The Young Savages.” Ms. Merrill also played supporting roles in “Operation Petticoat” with Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, and “The Sundowners” with Robert Mitchum.

After a divorce, she married the actor Cliff Robertson. The second marriage lasted 20 years, and Ms. Merrill later married Ted Hartley, who was chairman of RKO Pictures. One of her children with Mr. Rumbough died in a boating accident at age 23, and her daughter with Mr. Robertson—who was a resident of Water Mill when he died in 2011—died of cancer in 2007. Mr. Hartley, who was a U.S. Navy fighter pilot before going into investment banking, is now 93.

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What a history. Formal dress for dinner, Herb McCarthy's Saturday nights. Maybe you can't go home again but I certainly miss the Old Southampton and East Hampton. Much more class and taste. Not that there were not peccadillos too, but underlying the social news was a history of public service in many of the personal lives of the players. Now we're left with Kardashians and Flavo-Flav, or whatever his name is. Crud
By Funbeer (247), Southampton on Aug 5, 18 3:57 PM
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