Home during the winter was the 115-room Mar-a-Lago estate, which was bought by Donald J. Trump in 1985 and converted into a private club. (Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump slept in the same children’s suite that Ms. Merrill had used.)
As a child, born into the American aristocracy of money and high society, Ms. Merrill wished she could take the bus “like the other kids,” she said, instead of being driven to school by the family chauffeur. After she became a successful actress, she told Quest magazine, “It’s fascinating to lead someone else’s life for a while.”
But as it turned out, the “someone else” was almost always a coolly sophisticated patrician woman not that different from the real Dina Merrill. Typical of her parts, in the 1959 television version of Budd Schulberg’s “What Makes Sammy Run?” she was the glamorous daughter of a Wall Street banker.
Although her father’s investments had earned her a million dollars by the time she became an actress, against his wishes, Ms. Merrill supported herself by modeling clothes for Vogue at $10 an hour.
“It never occurred to me to ask my father or mother to pay for something they didn’t believe in,” she said in a 1979 interview. “My ambitions were my own — not exactly the ones they had for me.”
Her father wanted her to become a lawyer and then to run for Congress. Instead, Ms. Merrill made her Broadway debut — speaking three lines — in John Van Druten’s “The Mermaids Singing” in 1945.
She was born Nedenia Marjorie Hutton on Dec. 9, 1923, in New York City and nicknamed Deenie. Her parents divorced when she was 10.
She attended George Washington University, but dropped out after a year to study at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York. In 1946 she married Stanley M. Rumbough Jr., heir to the Colgate-Palmolive consumer products fortune, and spent much of the next decade raising their three children. By the time she got her first movie role — as a young research assistant to Katharine Hepburn in “Desk Set” (1957), with Spencer Tracy — she was over 30.
Her subsequent roles included the bored upper-class wife of an Australian sheep rancher in the Deborah Kerr movie “The Sundowners” (1960), and the alcoholic wife of an entrepreneur played by the comedian Alan King in “Just Tell Me What You Want” (1980).
She also had a thriving career as a guest star on television series, including “Bonanza,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Murder, She Wrote,” and as an actress in made-for-TV movies.