Sunday, August 12, 2007


Merv Griffin (1925-2007)

Talk about a king of all media. Merv Griffin certainly left his mark on large segments of it, even beyond his legendary television work. The entertainment mogul and icon has died at 82.

Most probably know him from his long-running daytime talk show that aired from 1962-1986. However, that was just a small part of his accomplishments which included creating the legendary game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune. Still there was much more to Merv than just those.

Early in his career, Griffin made his name as a songwriter including the hit "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," a song he infamously performed as part of the legendary horrendous Oscar opening musical number featuring Snow White and Rob Lowe.

His frequent guest appearances on The Tonight Show when it was hosted by Jack Paar led to the start of his own talk show, which I actually saw in person during its waning syndicated days in the 1980s. The guests included John Chancellor and former CIA director Adm. Stansfield Turner.

While the show primarily aired in the daytime (in fact, it was airing when the news crawl informed me of Elvis Presley's death), originally it competed directly against The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson where it got swamped in the ratings.

Before his television career took off, he did work as an actor in a handful of films, though probably his most famous screen appearance was that as himself, revealed as the killer, in Steve Martin's The Man With Two Brains.

Griffin also proved a savvy businessman and entrepreneur, achieving fortune and success with various hotels and casinos as well as in horse racing.

Still, it's his talk show for which he probably will be most remembered, so much so that an episode of Seinfeld revolved around Kramer discovering the discarded set from his talk show in a trash bin and reassembling it in his apartment.

To read, The Washington Post obit, click here.

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Nice job with this. I wrote a brief tribute, along with the last photo I took of Merv back in March.

Palm Springs Savant
I'll remember Merv for all the things you cite, but I'll also remember Eddie Murphy's joke about him in The Nutty Professor. And also I'll remember how much money I gave his casino in Atlantic City over the years.
I'll always remember Merv for having the great Jack Sheldon in his band.
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