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Entertainer Merv Griffin dies at 82

Merv Griffin
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 Show."

Griffin participated in the first on-screen open-mouth kiss in film history in "So This Is Love," with Kathryn Grayson in 1953.

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 said today.

Schwarzenegger said his friendship began with Griffin when Schwarzenegger was invited to be a guest on "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1974.

"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.

Copyright © 2007 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.




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