Merv Griffin Dead At 82 - U2 Feedback

Go Back   U2 Feedback > Lypton Village > Lemonade Stand > Lemonade Stand Archive
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 08-12-2007, 11:22 PM   #1
Blue Crack Addict
MsMofoGone's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Where is not important...
Posts: 26,716
Local Time: 06:54 PM
Merv Griffin Dead At 82

Entertainer, Businessman Griffin Dies
By BOB THOMAS, Associated Press Writer
4 hours ago

LOS ANGELES - Merv Griffin, the big band-era crooner turned impresario who parlayed his "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" game shows into a multimillion-dollar empire, died Sunday. He was 82.

Griffin died of prostate cancer, according to a statement from his family that was released by Marcia Newberger, spokeswoman for The Griffin Group/Merv Griffin Entertainment.

From his beginning as a $100-a-week San Francisco radio singer, Griffin moved on as vocalist for Freddy Martin's band, sometime film actor, TV game and talk show host, and made Forbes' list of richest Americans several times.

"The Merv Griffin Show" lasted more than 20 years, and Griffin said his capacity to listen contributed to his success.

"If the host is sitting there thinking about his next joke, he isn't listening," Griffin reasoned in a recent interview.

But his biggest break financially came from inventing and producing "Jeopardy" in the 1960s and "Wheel of Fortune" in the 1970s. After they had become the hottest game shows on television, Griffin sold the rights to Coca Cola's Columbia Pictures Television Unit for $250 million in 1986, retaining a share of the profits. He also continued to receive royalties for the popular "Jeopardy!" theme song, which he wrote.

"My father was a visionary," Griffin's son, Tony Griffin, said in a statement issued Sunday. "He loved business and continued his many projects and holdings even while hospitalized."

When Griffin entered a hospital a month ago, he was working on the first week of production of a new syndicated game show, "Merv Griffin's Crosswords," his son said.

Griffin was also a longtime friend of former President Reagan and his wife, Nancy.

"This is heartbreaking, not just for those of us who loved Merv personally, but for everyone around the world who has known Merv through his music, his television shows and his business," Nancy Reagan said in a statement.

She said Griffin "was there for me every day after Ronnie died" in 2004.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger recalled Sunday that his very first U.S. talk show appearance was on "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1974.

"We became good friends, and Merv has always been a big part of my success," the former actor and bodybuilding champion said. "He helped me gain exposure to American audiences and whenever I had a new movie in the works, Merv always took time out from his busy schedule to call or send me a note to say congratulations and wish me good luck."

The governor said Griffin "excelled at whatever he put his mind to, will remain a legend in the hearts and minds of Californians forever."

"Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak said he had lost "a dear friend."

"He meant so much to my life, and it's hard to imagine it without him," Sajak said.

For several years, Griffin was frequently seen in the company of actress Eva Gabor, who died in 1995.

"I'm very upset at the news. He was a very close friend of ours, a good friend of mine and a good friend of Eva's," Gabor's sister, Zsa Zsa Gabor, told The Associated Press by phone Sunday. "He was just a wonderful, wonderful man."

Griffin started putting the proceeds from selling "Jeopardy" and "Wheel" in treasury bonds, stocks and other investments, but went into real estate and other ventures because "I was never so bored in my life."

"I said `I'm not going to sit around and clip coupons for the rest of my life,'" he recalled in 1989. "That's when Barron Hilton said `Merv, do you want to buy the Beverly Hilton?' I couldn't believe it."

Griffin bought the slightly passe hotel for $100.2 million and completely refurbished it for $25 million. Then he made a move for control of Resorts International, which operated hotels and casinos from Atlantic City to the Caribbean.

That touched off a feud with real estate tycoon Donald Trump. Griffin eventually acquired Resorts for $240 million, even though Trump had held 80 percent of the voting stock.

"I love the gamesmanship," he told Life magazine in 1988. "This may sound strange, but it parallels the game shows I've been involved in."

In recent years, Griffin also rated frequent mentions in the sports pages as a successful race horse owner. His colt Stevie Wonderboy, named for entertainer Stevie Wonder, won the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2005.

His 1997 game show, "Click," also introduced a young host named Ryan Seacrest to the public.

In 1948, Freddy Martin hired Griffin to join his band at Los Angeles' Coconut Grove at $150 a week. With Griffin doing the singing, the band had a smash hit with "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Cocoanuts," a 1949 novelty song sung in a cockney accent.

Doris Day and her producer husband, Marty Melcher, saw the band in Las Vegas and recommended Griffin to Warner Bros., which offered a contract. After a bit in "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," starring Day and Gordon MacRae, he had a bigger role with Kathryn Grayson in "So This Is Love." But after a few more trivial roles, he asked out of his contract.

In 1954, Griffin went to New York where he appeared in a summer replacement musical show on CBS-TV, a revival of "Finian's Rainbow," and a music show on CBS radio. He followed with a few TV game show hosting jobs, notably "Play Your Hunch," which premiered in 1958 and ran through the early 1960s. His glibness led to stints as substitute for Jack Paar on "Tonight."

When Paar retired in 1962, Griffin was considered a prime candidate to replace him. Johnny Carson was chosen instead. NBC gave Griffin a daytime version of "Tonight," but he was canceled for being "too sophisticated" for the housewife audience.

Westinghouse Broadcasting introduced "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1965 on syndicated TV. Griffin never underestimated the intelligence of his audience, offering such figures as philosopher Bertrand Russell, cellist Pablo Casals and Pulitzer Prize-winning writer-philosopher-historians Will and Ariel Durant as well as movie stars and entertainers.

CBS tried to challenge Carson with a late-night show starring Griffin, but nothing stopped Carson and Griffin returned to Westinghouse.

A lifelong crossword puzzle fan, Griffin devised a game show, "Word for Word," in 1963. It faded after one season, then his wife, Julann, suggested another show.

"Julann's idea was a twist on the usual question-answer format of the quiz shows of the Fifties," he wrote in his autobiography "Merv." "Her idea was to give the contestants the answer, and they had to come up with the appropriate question."

"Jeopardy" started in 1964 and "Wheel of Fortune" was begun in 1975.

Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. was born in San Mateo, south of San Francisco on July 6, 1925, the son of a stockbroker. An aunt, Claudia Robinson, taught him to play piano at age 4, and he soon was staging shows on the back porch.

"Every Saturday I had a show, recruiting all the kids in the block as either stagehands, actors and audience, or sometimes all three," he wrote in his 1980 autobiography. "I was the producer, always the producer."

After studying at San Mateo Junior College and the University of San Francisco, Griffin quit school to apply for a job as pianist at KFRC radio in San Francisco. The station needed a vocalist instead. He auditioned and was hired.

Griffin attracted the interest of RKO studio boss William Dozier and his wife, Joan Fontaine.

At the time, Griffin weighed 235 pounds. "As soon as I walked in their hotel room, I could see their faces fall," he recalled. Shortly afterward, singer Joan Edwards told him: "Your voice is terrific, but the blubber has got to go." Griffin slimmed down, and he spent the rest of his life adding and taking off weight.

Griffin and Julann Elizabeth Wright were married in 1958, and their son, Anthony, was born the following year. They divorced in 1973 because of "irreconcilable differences."

He never remarried.

Besides his son, Griffin is survived by his daughter-in-law, Tricia, and two grandchildren.

The family said an invitation-only funeral Mass will be held at a later date at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.

MsMofoGone is offline  
Old 08-12-2007, 11:30 PM   #2
Blue Crack Addict
MsMofoGone's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Where is not important...
Posts: 26,716
Local Time: 06:54 PM
Merv was such a wonderful entertainer. I really enjoyed The Merv Griffin Show ... because he was so hilarious with his guests.

My deepest sympathy goes out to his family. He will be missed.

MsMofoGone is offline  
Old 08-13-2007, 12:01 AM   #3
LikeNoOneBefore's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Scranton, PA
Posts: 1,941
Local Time: 07:54 PM
His 1997 game show, "Click," also introduced a young host named Ryan Seacrest to the public.

It's a shame he had to die though. My prayers go out to his family.
LikeNoOneBefore is offline  
Old 08-13-2007, 12:03 AM   #4
love, blood, life
snowbunny00774's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: londonontario
Posts: 12,298
Local Time: 08:54 PM
snowbunny00774 is offline  
Old 08-13-2007, 12:03 AM   #5
Blue Crack Distributor
Lila64's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: ♥Set List Lane♥
Posts: 52,591
Local Time: 04:54 PM
Lila64 is offline  
Old 08-13-2007, 09:21 PM   #6
Blue Crack Overdose
Get me off the internetz!
Carek1230's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: wishing I was somewhere else....
Posts: 108,453
Local Time: 05:54 PM
I enjoyed years of Merv Griffin humor and entertainment so hearing this news was very sad. RIP Merv. What a legacy he's left behind!
Carek1230 is offline  
Old 08-13-2007, 10:06 PM   #7
Blue Crack Addict
Irvine511's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 29,448
Local Time: 08:54 PM
and, as per usual, seems he's been de-gayed.

anyway, RIP.
Irvine511 is online now  
Old 08-14-2007, 08:48 AM   #8
Blue Crack Addict
MrsSpringsteen's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 24,837
Local Time: 08:54 PM
I was talking about that with my mother- I thought he was gay. Then she said "well he dated Zsa Zsa Gabor" and well we had to have the convo..

RIP-he was a brilliant businessman and seemed like a very nice man
MrsSpringsteen is offline  
Old 08-16-2007, 02:58 AM   #9
Blue Crack Addict
fah's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: In my house with the rest of fahs
Posts: 20,147
Local Time: 04:54 PM
I loved the Merv Griffin show

fah is offline  
Old 08-17-2007, 09:15 AM   #10
Blue Crack Addict
MrsSpringsteen's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2002
Posts: 24,837
Local Time: 08:54 PM
Merv Griffin died a closeted homosexual

By Ray RichmondThu Aug 16, 11:49 PM ET

Merv Griffin was gay.

Why should that be so uncomfortable to read? Why is it so difficult to write? Why are we still so jittery even about raising the issue in purportedly liberal-minded Hollywood, in 2007?

Griffin, who died of prostate cancer Sunday at 82, stayed in the closet throughout his life. Perhaps he figured it was preferable to remain the object of gossip rather than live openly as "one of them."

But how tremendously sad it is that a man of Merv's renown, of his gregarious nature and social dexterity, would feel compelled to endure such a stealthy double life even as the gay community's clout, and its levels of acceptance and equality, rose steadily from the ashes of ignorance.

What a powerful message Griffin might have sent had he squired his male companions around town rather than Eva Gabor, his longtime good friend and platonic public pal. Imagine the amount of good Merv could have done as a well-respected, hugely successful, beloved and uncloseted gay man in embodying a positive image.

I had more than a passing acquaintance with him, having worked on "The Merv Griffin Show" as a talent coordinator/segment producer in 1985-86 as the show was winding down. Around the office, Merv's being gay was understood but rarely discussed (and certainly never with him). We knew nothing of his relationships because he guarded his privacy fiercely, and we didn't pry.

Merv's secret gay life was widely known throughout showbiz culture, if not the wider America. It gained traction in 1991 when he was targeted in a pair of lawsuits: by "Dance Fever" host Denny Terrio, alleging sexual harassment; and by assistant Brent Plott seeking $200 million in palimony. Both ultimately were dismissed.

Over the past 16 years of his life, however, Griffin deflected the sexuality questions with a quip, determining that his private life remained nobody's business. He certainly didn't owe us an explanation, but maybe he owed it to himself to remove the suffocating veil he'd been forced to hide behind throughout his adult life. Then again, Merv carved his niche in the entertainment world at a time when being gay wasn't OK, when disclosure was unthinkable and the allegation alone could deep-six one's career.

If you're Griffin, why would you think a judgmental culture would be any more tolerant as you grew into middle and old age? Even in the capital of entertainment -- in a business where homosexuality isn't exactly a rare phenomenon -- it's still spoken of in hushed tones or, more often, not at all. And Merv's brush with tabloid scandal no doubt only drove him further into the closet.

While it would seem everything has changed today, little actually has. You can count on the fingers of one hand, or at most two, the number of high-powered stars, executives and public figures who have come out. Those who don't can't really be faulted, as rarely do honesty and full disclosure prove a boon to one's showbiz livelihood.

Nonetheless, the elephant that was his sexual orientation never really stopped following Griffin from room to room. He could duck it for a while, but it would always find him. It's disheartening that Merv had to die to shake it for good.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

MrsSpringsteen is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:54 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2016, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Design, images and all things inclusive copyright ©