- NAME: Merv Griffin
- OCCUPATION: Film Actor, Theater Actor, Television Actor, Entrepreneur, Singer, Talk Show Host, Television Producer
- BIRTH DATE: July 06, 1925
- DEATH DATE: August 12, 2007
- EDUCATION: San Mateo High School
- PLACE OF BIRTH: San Mateo, California
- PLACE OF DEATH: Los Angeles, California
- Full Name: Mervyn Edward Griffin
- AKA: Merv Griffin
Best Known For
Merv Griffin was an American television host, singer and business magnate. He created the game shows Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and Click.
Merv Griffin - Full Biography (43:50)
Vanna White - Mini Biography (3:32)
Merv Griffin, America's ultimate showman, knew what audiences wanted and made it his life's work to entertain with his talk show and his game shows "Wheel of Fortune," and "Jeopardy."
Vanna White's unique style on "Wheel of Fortune" made her into a 1980s cultural icon.
Vanna White is the longtime co-host of the game show "Wheel of Fortune." While uncovering the letters on the show's puzzle board, she became a fashion icon that inspired a media frenzy dubbed "Vannamania."
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Merv Griffin was an American television host and business magnate. From a love of puzzles and games, he built an empire. His game shows, talk show, hotels, and other media commodities made him one of the richest men in the world. He first conceived the show Jeopardy! in 1964, then Wheel of Fortune in '75. He purchased the Beverly Hilton Hotel in the 1980s. Griffin died of prostate cancer in 2007.
"Rose Kennedy was the only guest who ever intimidated me."
"What a great guy Merv Griffin was. I miss him terribly. He knew how to make everyone feel special. He made his waiter feel good."
Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr., was born July 6, 1925, in San Mateo, California. He learned how to play piano from an aunt was soon playing the pipe organ and singing in churches.
At age 19, Griffin abandoned his college studies for show business, singing on San Francisco Sketchbook, a nationally syndicated program based at radio station KFRC. Freddy Martin, a fan of the show, asked Griffin to tour with his big band orchestra, which he did for four years.
He earned enough to form his own record label, Panda Records. His self-released album Songs by Merv Griffin (1946) was the first U.S. album to be mastered on magnetic tape. Griffin's fame soared when he struck gold in 1950 with "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," which sold over three million copies.
During one of his nightclub performances, Griffin was discovered by Doris Day, who arranged for a screen test at Warner Bros. Studios. He appeared in a number of hit movies before turning his focus to television. One of his films, So This Is Love (1953), featured the first open-mouthed kiss shown in theaters.
Griffin started appearing regularly on television shows as The Arthur Murray Dance Party and The Jack Paar Show. He hosted a game show, Play Your Hunch from 1958 to 1962.
Griffin became a substitute host for Jack Paar on The Jack Paar Tonight Show and scored some of the show's highest ratings. As a result, NBC gave him his own daytime talk show, which debuted on the same day Johnny Carson first hosted The Tonight Show on October 1, 1962.
The program was canceled after its first season, but The Merv Griffin Show returned as a syndicated program in 1965. He then received an offer to host a new game show, Word for Word, in 1963, which he produced as well. An avid fan of puzzles since childhood, this led him to conceive the idea for and produce Jeopardy! (1964), one of the most successful game shows in television history.
In 1965, Griffin launched a syndicated talk show for Group W Westinghouse Broadcasting. The Merv Griffin Show featured an eclectic mix of guests. As host, he is noted for putting his subjects at ease, but while he was not regarded as a tough or penetrating interviewer, Griffin was not shy about tackling controversial subjects, including the Vietnam War.
In 1969, CBS hired Griffin to directly compete with Johnny Carson. But he began to be harassed by CBS executives who objected to the antiwar statements of his guests and who had wanted to fire his long-term sidekick and mentor, Arthur Treacher, because he was too old.
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