Sunday, August 12, 2007
Cr ator Of Wh el Of F rt ne, M rv G if in Finds Ca eer In Je pa dy As He D es.
Who was America's foremost talk show host, game show creator and billionaire hotel mogul?
Merv Griffin, who would surely consider the question too easy for Jeopardy! or Wheel of Fortune— two shows he created and proudly called "America's games."
The affable Hollywood tycoon died of prostate cancer, according to a statement from his the family that was released by Marcia Newberger, spokeswoman for The Griffin Group/Merv Griffin Entertainment. Griffin, who was 82, leaves behind a vast empire that will continue to entertain the world for many years.
Griffin began as bit player in film and on stage. In 1950, he crooned the No. 1 novelty song, I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts. During his lifetime, he became a billionaire owner of hotels, casinos, a jet, a yacht, champion racehorses and a television legacy rewarded with numerous Emmys.
Here is an appearance by The Carpenters On The Merv Griffin Show.
The always well-dressed, perpetually tan California native created Jeopardy! in the 1960s and Wheel of Fortune in the '70s. Wheel, he said, was based on the Hangman games he would play with his sister during family road trips. And he credited his ex-wife, Julann, with suggesting the concept behind Jeopardy!— contestants providing questions to supplied answers.
The 1986 sale of the shows and his entire Merv Griffin Enterprises holdings netted him a widely reported $250. He also pocketed $80 million in royalties for composing the catchy Jeopardy! theme. "Every show I go on, I sing it," he said of his trick for increasing royalties.
Griffin, who was first diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1996, will not see how his latest game show brainchild, Crosswords, fares when it debuts in syndication on Sept. 10. He believed it would succeed, like his two earlier hits, because of its simplicity. "If you can't explain your game in one sentence, forget it," he told the New York Post.
During his 1962-86 run as host of daytime TV's The Merv Griffin Show, he interviewed four U.S. presidents and routinely booked controversial figures, such as Jane Fonda, Richard Pryor, stripper Gypsy Rose Lee, transsexual pioneer Christine Jorgensen, Spiro Agnew and Muhammad Ali, many of whom had been banned by other shows. "I did a very unusual interview with Martin Luther King Jr.," he told The Miami Herald. "I had Bobby Kennedy on. Rose Kennedy, I don't think anybody else ever sat her down on television, and she came on with me twice."
Source: USA Today
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