Happy birthday Merv Griffin!

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Merv Griffin (July 6, 1925—August 12, 2007) was an American media mogul, television host, musician, and actor. He is best known for his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, as well as creating the game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.

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Griffin was born Mervyn Edward Griffin, Jr., in San Mateo, California to Mervyn Edward Griffin, Sr. and Rita Elizabeth Griffin. As a child, he learned to play piano from his aunt, and eventually went on to play pipe organ and sing in churches. He became known as a piano prodigy, and before long was singing on the nationally syndicated radio program San Francisco Sketchbook. This led a fan, who happened to lead a big band orchestra, Freddy Martin, to ask him to tour with him and he did, for four years.

In 1950, Griffin released the song, "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," and it sold over three million copies. Doris Day discovered Griffin when he was performing at a nightclub, and arranged a screen test for Griffin with Warner Bros. for a role in By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).Though he did not get the part, it led to roles in other films including So This is Love (1953), The Boy from Oklahoma (1954), and Phantom of the Rue Morgue (1954).

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Arthur Treacher and Merv Griffin, source

In the late 1950s, Griffin began to appear regularly on The Arthur Murray Dance Party and The Jack Paar Show. Eventually, he became a substitute for Jack Paar. His success in that role landed him his own daytime talk show with NBC.

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(L to R) Actor Arthur Treacher, Aliza Kashi, British Model Jean Shrimpton, Merv Griffin and Cliff Arquette enjoying an entertaining coversation the the taping of the Merv Griffin Show 1967, source.

By 1963, he was courted to host and produce the new game show Word for Word. In 1964, he conceived of the game show Jeopardy!, which went on to become one of the most popular game shows in television history.

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In 1965, he was back to hosting his own talk show. He tackled controversial topics such as the Vietnam War, and as a result, was often harassed by his supervisors. By 1969, Griffin was being aired in direct competition with fellow late night host Johnny Carson. CBS canceled The Merv Griffin Show in 1972, and for the next 14 years, Griffin hosted it through Metromedia.

 

 

In 1975, Jeopardy! was canceled, and Griffin went on to produce its successor, Wheel of Fortune.

In 1986, he sold Merv Griffin Productions for $250 million to Columbia Pictures. With the money, he bought the Beverly Hills Hotel and a ranch near Carmel, California. He went on to buy many other properties, and his massive wealth became a widely known secret.

He was married to Julann Elizabeth Wright from 1958 to 1976 and they had one son, Tony.

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Sunday, 06 July 2014
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