Yesterday Merv Griffin lost his battle to prostate cancer at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles at the age of 82. He received his first treatment for this in 1996 and in late July of this year it was publicized that the cancer had come back. In a statement on Merv.com his son Tony said: "My father was a visionary. He loved business and continued his many projects and holdings even while hospitalized. We take solace in knowing that until the end he had his two favorites by his side--his family and his work. His legacy will be honored through the continuing operations of The Griffin Group under its current leadership and by the millions of lives he continues to affect through entertainment."
Throughout his life he was on Broadway, a big-band vocalist, talk show host, game show creator, and an entrepreneur with a multi-billion dollar entertainment empire...amongst other things. He is also credited, along with Kathryn Grayson, in having the first open-mouth kiss on film in So This Is Love. To backtrack a little, it all pretty much began with a novelty hit song circa 1950 called I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts which helped parlay him into television. For two decades he hosted his self-titled talk show focusing on celebrities, politicians and New York's own Miss Miller (a studio audience member he made famous by addressing her frequently in his monologue).
While his show mostly aired during the daytime hours, here in New York it mostly ran in a prime time slot, and others even aired it opposite Johnny Carson during late night. AMNY reports that CBS eventually "lured Griffin to mount a national challenge to Carson in 1969, but that much-hyped network late-night show lasted only three years. Griffin then returned to syndicated talk until 1986, interviewing a variety of showbiz, political and public figures he claimed numbered more than 25,000." Remember when Kramer got the set of the Merv Griffin show and set it up in his apartment? (Video here.)
Throughout his years he also created some of the most well known game shows: "Jeopardy!" (even composing the famous song that goes along with it) and "Wheel of Fortune." However, perhaps his life best parallels his lesser known 1990 TV version of "Monopoly." From late night wars to real estate wars, Griffin butt heads with Donald Trump in the 1980s Atlantic City casino wars. Buying and selling property (including hotels, resorts, radio stations and racehorses) became one of his main focuses after selling Merv Griffin Enterprises production company in 1986 for $250 million.
It was announced that the funeral is invitation-only and will be held at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.