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Griffin, Mervyn Edward Jr.

Born: 1925 AD
Died: 2007 AD
Nationality: American
Categories: TV Host, TV Personality

1925 – Mervyn Griffin was born on July 6th in San Mateo California to Mervyn Sr. and Rita Robinson-Griffin. American talk show host.

1929 – His aunt, Claudia Robinson, taught him to play piano at age 4, and soon staged shows at the back porch of the family home.

1932 – He was already staging neighborhood carnivals and publishing his own one-page newspaper.

1944 – He started singing on radio, appearing on San Francischo Sketchbook, a nationally syndicated program based at KFRC.

         – He started on a Friday; on Monday, the name of the program was changed to "The Merv Griffin Show." But because he was slightly overweight, his fans lost interest in him. He went on a diet and lost 80 pounds within 4 months.

1945 – He formed his own record label, Panda Records, and released an album, Songs by Merv Griffin. This was the first American album recorded on magnetic tape.

         – Freddy Martin asked Griffin to tour with his orchestra, which he did for four years.

1949 – His band with Freddy Martin scored a No. 1 hit with the novelty song ‘I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts’.

         – He was discovered by Doris Day during one of his nightclub performances who arraged for a screen test at Warner Bros.

1953 – Debuted in the film ‘So This is Love’ alongside Kathryn Grayson.

1954 – Griffin went to New York where he appeared in a summer replacement musical show on CBS-TV, a revival of "Finian’s Rainbow", and a music show on CBS Radio.

1958 – Married to Julann Wright, a radio comic, and had a son, Antony.

1958-1962 – He hosted the game show NBC’s Play Your Hunch alongside ABC’s Keep Talking.

         – He moved to New York and hosted CBS-TV’s "Look Up and Live", a Sunday morning religious program with Mahalia Jackson and Sidney Poitier as regular performers.

         – He then hosted the "CBS Morning Show" and became a regular guest on "The Jack Paar Show", "The Arthur Murray Show" and others.

1963 – NBC canceled Merv’s show and received 160,000 letters of protest in less than two weeks and quickly got him back on the air.

         – NBC ordered his syndicated gameshow, Word for Word, which was based on his life-long interest in words and puzzles and lasted for only one season.

1964 – His then-wife helped create Jeopardy! and he produced the popular gameshow which was aired on March 30th.

         – He also wrote the music played while contestants ponder on their question. This took him about 30 minutes to write and earned him $80 million in royalties.

1965 – Produced ‘Let’s Play Post Office’ for NBC.

         – He started hosting, ‘The Merv Griffin Show’, which was a syndicated talk show for Westinghouse Broadcasting.

1967 – Produced ‘Reach For the Stars’ for NBC and ‘One In a Million’ for ABC.

1969 – On August 18th, Griffin moved to CBS in a show that aired directly opposite Carson and demanded a higher salary than Carson.

1970 – Producers at NBC’s Today show approached Griffin to co-host the show, but he declined.

1972 – CBS show was canceled and he returned to syndication via Metromedia.

1973 – Divorced his wife, Julann Wright.

1975 – NBC canceled Jeopardy! after moving it twice on their daytime schedule and despite having an additional year on its network contract left to fulfill.

         – Griffin created and produced ‘Wheel of Fortune’ for NBC.

1978-1979 – Jeopardy! was revived with the same host and aired for five months.

1980 – Purchased Paradise Island in the Bahamas for $400 million from Donald Trump, but he later sold it for just $125 million.

         – Griffin then purchased the Beverley Hilton in Hollywood for $100 million and made a move for control of Resorts International, which operated hotels and casinos from Atlantic City to the Caribbean.

1983 – On September 18th, Wheel of Fortune hit the syndication market and soon after, became a phenomenon.

1984 – Jeopardy! is revived again under syndication with a different host.

1986 – He retired from ‘The Merv Griffin Show’ after 23 years, 5,500 shows, and 25,000 guests.

         – Columbia Pictures Entertainment, then a subsidiary of the Coca-Cola Company, purchased his production company, Merv Griffin Enterprises, for $250 million but retained a share of the profits. He started spreading the sale money around in treasury bonds, stocks and other investments.

         – Forbes magazine named him the richest Hollywood performer in history on its annual list of the 400 wealthiest people in the U.S.

1987 – He established the Griffin Group, whose holdings have included the Beverly Hilton and many other hotels and resorts, radio stations, casinos and equestrian-related companies.

1988 – He purchased Resorts Hotel and Casino, formerly Chalfonte-Haddon Hall Hotel in Atlantic City from Donald Trump.

1990 – Attempted to produce a game-show out of Monopoly but failed.

1991 – He created and produced Ruckus. By the end of the show’s 13 week run, there were plans to get the show syndicated nationally, but the project fell apart when the host, The Amazing Jonathan, walked out over a contractual dispute.

1995 – The Griffin Group now encompasses Merv Griffin Entertainment, the production entity that has created and sold numerous television and film projects.

1996 – He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and survived.

2001 – Griffin returned to singing with the release of the album ‘It’s Like a Dream’.

2005 – Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, now syndicated around the world, has been dubbed the two most successful game shows in television syndication history and netted Griffin over $1 billion.

2007 – Griffin’s production company, began pre-production on a new syndicated game show Merv Griffin’s Crosswords (Let’s Play Crosswords).

         – The show plans to tape in Los Angeles after initial reports that it would be produced at WMAQ-TV in Chicago. The show is expected to air beginning in September at NBC-owned-and-operated stations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas.

         – On July 19th, it was publicized that his prostate cancer had returned and that he was admitted to Cedar’s Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles.

         – He died on August 12th, at age 82. Merv Griffin is survived by his son, Tony, from his only marriage as well as two grandchildren.