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There was Merrrrv.
August 12, 2007 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Happy to Know You, Merv. RIP.
posted by Burhanistan (59 comments total)

 
I know they say it takes money to make money, but MY GOD was that guy good at turning nickels into dimes. 1.6 billion dollars, and yet most of today's core entertainment consumers have but a vague notion of who he was. He's like the Bill Gates of populist entertainment.
posted by jonson at 10:47 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


That said, Oprah Winfrey will almost certainly eclipse him in terms of media barony, and she succeeded while black & female in an industry run by white males. Still, not bad, Merv.
posted by jonson at 10:49 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


RIP, though I wish the YouTube related videos hadn't so easily led me first to this, and then to this. A different time, yes, but also a powerful way to stay ahead: keeping others down. Sigh.
posted by coolhappysteve at 10:57 AM on August 12, 2007


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posted by fungible at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2007


He'll always be the Elevator Killer to me.

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posted by davelog at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2007 [2 favorites]


"Merv Griffin did not turn himself in and is at large. If you have any information as to his whereabouts, call your local theatre manager."
posted by kirkaracha at 11:01 AM on August 12, 2007


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posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:05 AM on August 12, 2007


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posted by notclosed at 11:08 AM on August 12, 2007


That said, Oprah Winfrey will almost certainly eclipse him in terms of media barony, and she succeeded while black & female in an industry run by white males. Still, not bad, Merv.

Yes, but it's still possible that Griffin was America's first gay media billionaire. So that's no small achievement. The gay rumors certainly were there when Griffin was sued in a sexual harassment lawsuit by former Dance Fever host, Danny Terrio. The writer Armistead Maupin even quipped, "They used to say that the only way you get on Merv Griffin was if you got on Merv Griffin."

Anyhow, whereever you are Merv, let us hope there's a lovely bunch of coconuts waiting there.

.
posted by jonp72 at 11:44 AM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


This has been a Merrrrv Griffin television production.
posted by furtive at 12:06 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


My friend's father would always insist that Merv Griffin was the smartest man alive. Why? Because he figured out how to put commercials inside of the TV show. This was years ago, before VCRs, let alone DVRs. You'll probably flip channels during a commercial, but you'll always sit through the 10 second description of a new dishwasher on The Price Is Right.

I don't know if Merv Griffin actually deserves credit for inserting product placement into game shows, but if he does, he certainly changed the face of television.
posted by christonabike at 12:15 PM on August 12, 2007


did he ever come out? Even during the whole Deney Terrio thing he was closeted.

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posted by amberglow at 12:18 PM on August 12, 2007


i had never known there was also a palimony suit: In 1991, Griffin was hit with both a $200 million palimony lawsuit by former “secretary/driver/horse-trainer/bodyguard” Brent Plott, and an $11.5 million sexual harassment lawsuit from Dance Fever host “Denny” Deney Terrio; both suits were ultimately dismissed (the Plott claim after Griffin filed a countersuit).

I think i'll call all my boyfriends "secretary/driver/horse-trainer/bodyguard" from now on, too. ; o
posted by amberglow at 12:23 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


R_ST _N P_ _C_ M_RV GR_FF_N.
posted by ColdChef at 12:24 PM on August 12, 2007 [6 favorites]


long Rolling Stone thing on him: Dear Mister Fantasy--... Merv does not refute the underlying implication in both cases: that he is gay. Nor does he admit to it. Instead, he mentions the high-profile relationship that he began with actress Eva Gabor at the time of his legal troubles. They were photographed everywhere: Atlantic City, La Quinta, Hollywood premieres. Merv says that they discussed marriage, and he parries any direct questions about his sexual orientation. 'You're asking an eighty-year-old man about his sexuality right now!' he cries. 'Get a life!' ...
posted by amberglow at 12:27 PM on August 12, 2007


MERV GRIFFIN!
posted by LinusMines at 12:32 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I only remember him as the guy hosting the show my mom was always watching in the afternoons when I was 4. Then of course I saw his name in the credits of game shows. That's all I know.
posted by rolypolyman at 12:35 PM on August 12, 2007


Doo, da doo doo doo... doo... doo. BOOM BOOM.

Merv ran out of time. I wonder how much he wagered.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:37 PM on August 12, 2007


He's gone to that great consolation prize in the sky.
posted by amyms at 1:09 PM on August 12, 2007


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posted by Foosnark at 1:13 PM on August 12, 2007


Donald Trump went into television (somewhat) after becoming a billionaire real estate tycoon.

Merv Griffin was very succesful in television, then became a billionaire real estate tycoon (and bought a number of Donald's properties, including Trump Resorts International in Atlantic City).

Yes, I would say the guy is a genius.
posted by eye of newt at 1:14 PM on August 12, 2007


...was a genius...

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posted by eye of newt at 1:16 PM on August 12, 2007


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posted by daninnj at 2:14 PM on August 12, 2007


?
posted by solipsophistocracy at 2:34 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'd hear, "Who's that lurking over there? Isn't that Merv Griffin?" So I came to Europe to kill. And it's really worked out very well for me.

That line tears me up every time.
posted by malaprohibita at 2:44 PM on August 12, 2007


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posted by ZachsMind at 3:08 PM on August 12, 2007


A buddy of mine used to work for Merv. From everything I heard, Merv was a real standup guy.

RIP.
posted by MythMaker at 3:13 PM on August 12, 2007


I've never heard much negative about him either. Such a charming guy and he really seemed to enjoy his life. RIP.
posted by vronsky at 3:18 PM on August 12, 2007


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posted by mike3k at 3:20 PM on August 12, 2007


I'd say the man's just gone to residual heaven, except that he just left residual heaven: among his many other concepts, he wrote the Jeopardy theme ("Think!").

Midas has left the building.
posted by rob511 at 3:21 PM on August 12, 2007


Today, Ajax Duckman shed a tear.
posted by Eideteker at 4:30 PM on August 12, 2007


On SCTV Rick Moranis did a fabulous running skit as Merv, doing The Merv Griffin Show.

"We'll be right back..."
posted by edgeways at 4:42 PM on August 12, 2007


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posted by geekyguy at 5:36 PM on August 12, 2007


Did you know Merv was also a leader in fashion? Acc'ding to Wikipedia, "Griffin preferred to wear suits tailored by Botany 500, and many game show hosts followed his lead."
posted by ameca at 5:43 PM on August 12, 2007


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posted by brandz at 6:15 PM on August 12, 2007


Merv Griffin: What I've Learned, from September 2006. (“I've outlived all of my diet doctors.”)
posted by LeLiLo at 7:39 PM on August 12, 2007


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A showbiz legend.

Say, that obit is pretty great. A dark part of me wonders.. is someone writing these in advance for every $famousperson older than X? I mean, otherwise, was this an allnighter?
posted by cavalier at 7:50 PM on August 12, 2007


Say, that obit is pretty great. A dark part of me wonders.. is someone writing these in advance for every $famousperson older than X? I mean, otherwise, was this an allnighter?

Noticed that also. I think that one was definitely pre-written since his death was announced this morning. You can be sure that for every ailing old celebrity, there is a draft of his obituary ready to be posted. It's one of those back pressroom secrets, I think. Anyone in the industry that knows anything about this care to comment?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:55 PM on August 12, 2007


cavalier and Bur...about 3 or 4 years ago, CNN (I am pretty sure) accidentally released a whole bunch of pre-written obits for people who were still alive. Suffice to say...absolutely.
posted by Kickstart70 at 8:06 PM on August 12, 2007


Say, that obit is pretty great. A dark part of me wonders.. is someone writing these in advance for every $famousperson older than X? I mean, otherwise, was this an allnighter?

Yes. Major newspapers and media chains have people responsible for constantly maintaining biographies of notable people so that upon their death an obituary can be ready on the fly. In 2003 CNN accidentally made several of them live, including Cheney and Fidel Castro.

My dad, who works at the New York Times, actually volunteered to handle one out of devotion to the subject. He was responsible for the biography of Carl Barks (the guy who created Scrooge McDuck) and kept everything up to date until Barks' death in 2000. He had a three-inch thick folder of pertinent documents, clippings, and even personal correspondence with Barks. When Barks died, he had a half-page obituary in the Times the following morning.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cavalier and Burhanistan, here's the awesome Smoking Gun archive of the pages Kickstart mentions, beginning with our dear Vice President, and including Mandela, Castro, Ford, and a few others.
posted by coolhappysteve at 8:59 PM on August 12, 2007


Anecdote: November 1969. I was on the way to the library from school, age 16, and walked past a blind beggar wearing a Viking outfit and horned helmet sitting on the ledge outside the CBS building. He was offering slips of paper with couplets he had written to anyone who offered money. I sat next to him and asked to read one of the couplets. One read:

"Carnivores who live on herbivores who live on plants
Are all consumed by omnivores in pants."

He said his name was Moondog and he was blind because he'd triggered a dynamite cap when he was a kid living out in the country and when it exploded, it blinded him.

He asked if I'd get him a couple of coffee at the deli, which I did. When I came back there was a car with a driver standing in front of him. Moondog beseeched me to accompany him. Apparently he had been invited to appear live on the Merv Griffin show that evening, to play for the guest of honor, Mayor John Lindsay, whose birthday it was. In the car over there, I learned Moondog also wrote symphonies, in braille, which meant he had to write (punch out the music notes onto paper) backwards to be read normally.

So he appeared on the show, which I thought was wonderful of Merv Griffin to do, respectfully acknowledge a homeless musician on national TV. I waited in the wings, listening with awe, got a smidgen of birthday cake too and helped him back to his street corner. It was a fun adventure. Moondog and I remained friends for years. Appearing on the show helped Moondog's life and for that I'd like to posthumously thank Mr. Griffin.

May he rest in peace.
posted by nickyskye at 9:42 PM on August 12, 2007 [4 favorites]


Wow, Nicky...what a groovy story! You know, I think I'll always remember Merv even more fondly than I otherwise would have because of that tidbit. Thanks. :)
posted by dejah420 at 10:09 PM on August 12, 2007


At some point when I was a kid, I used to mix up last names for Merv Griffin and Andy Griffith. As it turns out, I wasn't alone. (Thanks for the memory, edgeways.)

I used to love his afternoon show as a kid. I'd see folks like Gore Vidal, Linus Pauling, Betty Davis (who was always a hoot), along with all the regular flogging celebs. It was fun background watching for homework time.
posted by lodurr at 3:48 AM on August 13, 2007


Found a Youtube of his great line in The Man With Two Brains.

youtubeee.
posted by cavalier at 4:35 AM on August 13, 2007


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I wasn't much for his singing but I loved his interviews, especially when he was hanging out with Zsa Zsa Gabor, not sure why but they always cracked me up together. Really wish I had 1/10 of his understanding on how to make money... he was an absolutely brilliant businessman.

I used to go to brunch at his hotel in Beverly Hills once in a while. He was living in the hotel so I passed him as he walked his little dogs in the lobby a few times. He wore pink spectactularly well, which surprised me.
posted by miss lynnster at 11:24 AM on August 13, 2007


Ok ok I give...

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posted by humannaire at 2:39 PM on August 13, 2007


Merv Griffin's Dangerous Closet-- ... Finally, Griffin's closet had him firing gay men who'd actually made it up through the ranks of his own company, simply because they were openly gay. There is a story in Queer in America about a man identified as "The Mogul" who did just that. I can now reveal that The Mogul is Merv Griffin. Open homosexuality is a threat to the closeted, and powerful people in the closet like Merv Griffin will often do whatever it takes to squash those who are open and who might advocate that all among the powerful should come out. ...
posted by amberglow at 6:06 AM on August 15, 2007


I'm mostly opposed to outing, and I'd like to think outing isn't necessary -- as a straight, I suppose I have those luxuries. But at some point, when there's that much fear involved, and that much money (really, what were they going to do, take it away from him?), maybe a little outing was just what Mervin needed.
posted by lodurr at 8:06 AM on August 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's the fact that he punished and fired others who were out that tips the balance way too far. It would have been one thing if he was just a closetcase himself and never lifted a finger to help others or anything, but to purposely harm others because they weren't closeted and therefore were a threat to him? Appalling and inexcusable.

Just another hating (selfhating and of others) GOP closetcase in the end.
posted by amberglow at 8:18 AM on August 15, 2007


Why didn't you say he was a Republican, dammit? That explains everything.

Actually, I'm kind of not joking about that...
posted by lodurr at 8:24 AM on August 15, 2007


Honestly, by the way he sauntered through his hotel lobby with his yippy little dogs, I don't know how anyone who had ever shared a room with him could ever DOUBT he was gay. Didn't take much brainwork to figure it out.
posted by miss lynnster at 8:31 AM on August 15, 2007


and that "lovely bunch of coconuts" song that made his name ages ago is a classic mincing sissy song from Brit Music Halls/Vaudeville.
posted by amberglow at 12:09 PM on August 15, 2007


Hollywood Reporter: Griffin never revealed man behind the curtain --Merv Griffin was gay.

Why should that be so uncomfortable to read? Why is it so difficult to write? Why are we still so jittery even about raising the issue in purportedly liberal-minded Hollywood in 2007? We can refer to it casually in conversation, but the mainstream media somehow remains trapped in the Dark Ages when it comes to labeling a person as gay. ...


(the editor in chief pulled this, but then reinstated it later)
posted by amberglow at 8:35 PM on August 17, 2007


(and more from the author of the piece)
posted by amberglow at 8:37 PM on August 17, 2007


I found my favorite photo of Merv(been looking for hours) Nov 89
posted by hortense at 10:04 PM on August 17, 2007


hortense I have had that image in my head forever but couldn't remember where it was from! Thanks! I used to subscribe to Spy so I remember that Merv/Kissinger cover was sitting on my coffee table for a while.
posted by miss lynnster at 5:27 AM on August 18, 2007


Now that's a headline --...You'd think the matter of an obit about or reminiscence of a public figure wouldn't generate all this brouhaha, but that's what happens when the world outside of the closet is so frightening to people in Hollywood that all sorts of insane measures are taken to reinforce the message is that there is something inherently wrong with being gay.
posted by amberglow at 3:46 PM on August 18, 2007


Some really interesting Merv anecdotes here.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:20 PM on August 18, 2007


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