Diabetes & Divas: Dina Merrill

Wellness with a Wow

Diabetes & Divas: Dina Merrill

Actress Dina Merrill, who was also the heiress to two fortunes died at age 93 on Monday.

I consider Dina Merrill to be a ‘Divabetic’. She was both an icon of taste and sophistication as well as an amazing diabetes advocate.

Her life as t he daughter of the Wall Street broker E. F. Hutton and the cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post inspired me to write last year’s Mister Divabetic Mystery podcast: “Suspect Boulevard”.

I literally started making notes for a new mystery idea on my iPhone during my visit to her mother’s fabulous Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens in Washington, DC. I spent the day in Washington after raising awareness for diabetes by hosting the Red Tomato Carpet at Central Farm Markets in Bethesda, MD.

A beautiful portrait of Dina Merrill as a child in her mother’s bedroom captured my imagination.  At the time I had no idea of Dina’s personal connection to diabetes nor her work in diabetes advocacy. I learned that Dina Merrill created a yearly award for scientific excellence in her  son David’s name for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in 1974. She also served as the International Ambassador for ORBIS International, the flying eye hospital, which teaches advanced eye care and eye surgical techniques all over the world.

The award was recently presented to the research team at ViaCyte, Inc., a San Diego, Calif.-based regenerative medicine company that is at the forefront of developing an encapsulated cell-replacement therapy that has the potential to provide long-term relief from daily insulin dosing. The islet implants would potentially release insulin on demand in response to the body’s rising blood-glucose levels.

Dina Merrill made her Broadway debut in John Van Druten’s The Mermaid Singing in 1945. She had a more substantial role in 1975’s revival of the drama Angel Street.

The New York Times referred to Dina Merrill as an elegant presence in most of her 30 or so mid-20th-century movies, Ms. Merrill played the betrayed wife who loses both her husband, Laurence Harvey, and her mink coat to Elizabeth Taylor in “Butterfield 8” (1960); the chic fashion consultant who loses Glenn Ford to Shirley Jones in “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father” (1963); and the steadfast socialite wife of an assistant district attorney played by Burt Lancaster in “The Young Savages” (1961). Her 100-plus TV appearances ranged from What’s My Line? to What Makes Sammy Run? to The Magnificent Ambersons.

We fondly will refer to this tireless and legendary philanthropist as a ‘Divabetic’.

LISTEN NOW: Mister Divabetic Mystery podcast: “Suspect Boulevard.” The happy healthcare host, Mr. Divabetic hopes to inspire you to become a Diabetes Detective will this third installment of Diabetes Mystery  Theater podcastOur cast includes Poet Lorraine Brooks, Patricia Addie-Gentle RN, CDE, ‘We Are Diabetes’ organization founder, Asha Brown, Catherine Schuller AICI, CIP, Susan Weiner MS, RD, CDE, CDN, Chef Robert Lewis, USA Today Best-Selling Author Tonya Kappes and Mama Rose Marie.

Throughout the podcast we will spotlight the wonderful music by the National Philaharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Charles Gerhardt courtesy of SONY MUSIC.


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