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Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin

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Also Known As: Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. Died: August 12, 2007
Born: July 6, 1925 Cause of Death: prostate cancer
Birth Place: San Mateo, California, USA Profession: executive, producer, TV host, singer, game show creator, radio station owner, nightclub owner, actor, hotelier, bank clerk

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

One of the most successful men in 20th century entertainment, Merv Griffin parlayed a moderately popular career as a big band singer and game show frontman into a long-running stint as the host of his own talk show, and later, as the creator of some of American television's best loved game shows, including "Wheel of Fortune" (syndicated, 1972- ) and "Jeopardy!" (NBC/syndicated, 1964- ). Griffin's business acumen and larger-than-life personality weathered numerous ups (his wildly profitable real estate ventures) and downs (two palimony suits, which called his sexuality into question). By the time of his death from prostate cancer in 2007, he was one of Hollywood's most enduring figures.

One of the most successful men in 20th century entertainment, Merv Griffin parlayed a moderately popular career as a big band singer and game show frontman into a long-running stint as the host of his own talk show, and later, as the creator of some of American television's best loved game shows, including "Wheel of Fortune" (syndicated, 1972- ) and "Jeopardy!" (NBC/syndicated, 1964- ). Griffin's business acumen and larger-than-life personality weathered numerous ups (his wildly profitable real estate ventures) and downs (two palimony suits, which called his sexuality into question). By the time of his death from prostate cancer in 2007, he was one of Hollywood's most enduring figures.

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

2.
5.
 Lonely Guy, The (1984) Himself
6.
 Slapstick Of Another Kind (1984) Anchorman
7.
 Seduction Of Joe Tynan, The (1979) Himself
8.
 Two-Minute Warning (1976) Himself
9.
 Hello Down There (1969) Himself
10.
 Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954) Georges Brevert
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Was playing the piano by age four
:
Hired as a singer on KFRC radio in San Francisco
1945:
Hosted "The Merv Griffin Show" on KFRC, ultimately earning $1,100 a week
1948:
Was vocalist with Freddy Martin's orchestra
1950:
Had Number 1 hit recording with "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts"
1951:
TV debut as vocalist, "The Freddy Martin Show"
:
Appeared in an industrial film as composer Stephen Foster
1952:
Signed to a long-term contract with Warner Bros.
1953:
Film debut, "By the Light of the Silvery Moon"
1953:
Had principal role opposite Katherine Grayson in "So This Is Love"
:
Toured nightclubs as singer
1954:
Regular on TV variety show "Summer Holiday"
1955:
Debut as TV host, "Look Up and Live" (CBS)
1956:
Broadway debut in the musical-comedy "Finian's Rainbow"
1958:
Hosted primetime NBC game show "Play Your Hunch"
1962:
Served as a guest host of "The Tonight Show" for Jack Paar
1962:
Began hosting the hourlong daytime talk show "The Merv Griffin Show" (NBC) which debuted in October 1962 on the same day Carson began hosting "The Tonight Show"; show was canceled in April 1963
1964:
Formed Merv Griffin Productions (MPG)
1964:
Created TV game show "Jeopardy!" which ran as part of NBC's daytime lineup; Griffin's wife initially came up with the idea for a show where the answers were given and contestants came up with the questions; Griffin developed the idea and produced the show
1965:
Returned to host the 90-minute syndicated version of "The Merv Griffin Show" (with a two year stint at CBS from 1969-1971 often going head-to-head against Johnny Carson and Joey Bishop)
1970:
Convinced CBS to move the show from NYC to Los Angeles
1975:
Produced short-lived, syndicated evening version of "Jeopardy!" (with Art Fleming as host)
1975:
Created the "Wheel of Fortune," which ran as part of NBC's daytime lineup (with exception of July 1989-January 1991 when it aired on CBS)
:
Formed Merv Griffin Enterprises
1979:
Created and produced the syndicated series "Dance Fever" hosted by Deney Terrio and later Adrian Zmed
1983:
Merv Griffin Enterprises produced syndicated version of "Wheel of Fortune", hosted by Pat Sajak
1984:
Merv Griffin Enterprises produced syndicated version of "Jeopardy!", hosted by Alex Trebek
1986:
Sold Merv Griffin Enterprises to Columbia Pictures (then owned by Coca-Cola) for a reported $250 million
1988:
Established the Griffin Group, a conglomerate of seven different companies, of which Merv Griffin Hotels is the largest entity (operating eight luxury properties)
1988:
Won control of Resorts International from Donald Trump; Resorts International was forced into bankruptcy; company was subsequently reorganized
1991:
Sued for $200 million in palimony claim by former secretary-driver-horse trainer-bodyguard Brent Plott; suit dismissed with prejudice
1991:
Sued for $11.3 million by Deney Terrio, former host of "Dance Fever", for sexual harrassment; suit dismissed with prejudice
1996:
After pulling Resorts International into the black, merged it with Sol Kerzner's Sun International Hotels, making him a major stockholder of Sun International, a $1.5 billion company trading on the NYSE
1997:
Served as creative consultant on "Wheel of Fortune 2000", a spin-off version of "Wheel of Fortune" for children
1998:
Opend the Coconut Club, located in the Beverly Hilton Hotel
2000:
Executive produced the daily syndicated talk/cooking series "The Ainsley Harriott Show"
2000:
Announced plans to team with George Hamilton to produce film based on Hamilton's childhood
2003:
Sold the Beverly Hilton Hotel
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

San Mateo High School: San Mateo , California -
University of San Francisco: San Francisco , California -
St Matthew Grammar School: San Mateo , California -
San Mateo Junior College: San Mateo , California - 1942 - 1944

Notes

During his crooning heydey, there was a Merv Griffin Fan Club, whose president was "a large-toothed girl with pigtails [named] Carol Burnett."

He gave Jack Warner $5000 to terminate his contract with Warner Bros.

His empire includes radio stations, real estate, race horses and his own private wine label, among other commodities.

During a live broadcast of NBC's "Play Your Hunch" in 1959, the back curtain suddenly opened up, and the studio audience let out a scream as "Tonight Show" host Jack Paar stumbled onto the stage . . .

"What are you doing here?" Paar asked.

"What are you doing here?" Merv replied.

"This is my studio."

"It's my studio in the daytime."

"Who are you?"

Paar liked the kid's naive bravura. A few months after their encounter, Merv did his first guest-host spot on "The Tonight Show".

--From Los Angeles, February 1998.

"You know, when I bought the Beverly Hilton the National Enquirere said, 'Merv Griffin bought the Beverly Hilton so he would have a place to work for the rest of his life,' and I thought, I've never heard such a rude thing in my life! But a few months later I was singing there and I thought, Hey! They were right--I bought the Beverly Hilton so I would have a stage for myself to perform on!" --Merv Griffin quoted in Vanity Fair, June 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Julann Elizabeth Wright. Former secretary, comedian. Met when she was working as secretary to Robert Q Lewis; married on May 18, 1958; filed for divorce in 1973; divorced in June 1976.
companion:
Eva Gabor. Actor. Companion on and off for nine years until her death in July 1995; Griffin claims they were about to get married at one point (with Nancy Reagan as matron of honor), but they could not decide on where they would live and whom Gabor would retain from her staff, ultimately driving them apart.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Mervyn Edward Griffin Sr. Tennis pro.
mother:
Rita Griffin.
uncle:
Elmer Griffin. Tennis pro. Owned a tennis club in Hollywood.
sister:
Barbara Griffin Eyre. Older; died on October 22, 2001.
son:
Anthony Patrick Griffin. Born in 1959; married with two children, a daughter Farah and a son Donovan Mervyn.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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