Entertainer Merv Griffin dies at 82
Photo courtesy NNDB.com
By Laura Dudnick
August 13, 2007
Bay Area native Merv Griffin, who created popular TV shows "Jeopardy"
and "Wheel of Fortune," died in Los Angeles today, according
to a statement released by a spokeswoman for the Griffin Group.
Griffin, who turned 82 on July 6, was recently diagnosed with
a recurrence of the prostate cancer he had beaten over a decade
ago. Griffin's doctors said the cancer promptly and unexpectedly
spread to other organs, according to the statement.
Throughout his entertainment and business careers, Griffin received
17 Emmy Awards and established the company The Griffin Group,
among other accomplishments.
Griffin's talk show career began when he landed a singing gig
on "San Francisco Sketchbook" on KFRC radio in 1945.
Within two days, the program was renamed "The Merv Griffin
Griffin participated in the first on-screen open-mouth kiss in
film history in "So This Is Love," with Kathryn Grayson
Griffin's hit show "Jeopardy," for which he created
and wrote the infectious theme song, first aired in 1964 and remains
the most successful game show on television.
One year later, in 1975, Griffin conceived the popular show "Wheel
of Fortune" and wrote its theme song as well.
His entertainment career also includes hosting 5,500 shows and
interviewing more than 25,000 guests on "The Merv Griffin
Show" from 1963 to 1986.
In 1986, Griffin merged his production company Merv Griffin Entertainment
with his new business The Griffin Group. The company has bought
and sold 17 radio stations, six casino resorts and 22 hotels over
the past 20 years.
"Merv was a highly successful businessman and committed
philanthropist, and he dedicated his life to giving back to his
community and helping others," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger
Schwarzenegger said his friendship began with Griffin when Schwarzenegger
was invited to be a guest on "The Merv Griffin Show"
"My father loved business and continued his many projects
and holdings even while hospitalized," Griffin's son Tony
Griffin said. "We take solace in knowing that until the end,
he had his two favorites by his side - his family and his work."
Griffin is survived by Tony Griffin and daughter-in-law Tricia
Griffin, and his two grandchildren, Farah and Donovan Mervyn.
A funeral will take place at The Church of the Good Shepherd
in Beverly Hills and will be invitation-only.
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made
to the Young Musicians Foundation, for which Griffin served as
chairman of the board and host of the annual gala, at YMF, 195
S. Beverly Drive, Suite 414, Beverly Hills, CA 90212.
Griffin was born in San Mateo in 1925.
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