Do you remember watching The Merv Griffin Show growing up? It was one of the great late-night talk shows and one of the few that brought intellectual discussion mixed with entertainment. It was a show that American audiences loved and one that many crave to this day.
So why did The Merv Griffin Show get cancelled if it was such a great show. And was hosted by one of our greatest TV moguls?
It happened because…. well, actually, before we tell you how The Merv Griffin Show cancelled – you have to understand who Merv Griffin was and his rise and fall.
Join FactsVerse to learn about Merv Griffin’s incredible life and legacy and the great talk show that eventually had to fade away…
Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. was born on the 6th of July, 1925, in San Mateo, California. His father was a stockbroker and his mother was a housewife. Along with his sister Barbara, he loved playing games while taking long family trips. Among these games was ‘hangman’ and he may not have known it. But he’d eventually use his love for such games to become a successful entrepreneur later in life.
Growing up as an Irish-American Catholic, he attended church regularly and performed in the church choir. He soon graduated to playing the organ at church and even received small renumerations for his talents. Merv’s fell in love with playing the piano and this led him to take interest in working in show business.
He attended the University of San Francisco and twice exempt from being drafted into war – first in the Second World War and second during the Korean War. During his time in university, he decided to pursue his entertainment career as a side venture. But of course, his dreams were large and he hoped to become a famous entertainer.
He began singing on the radio at the age of 19 and the instant gratification he got from earning from his singing made him realize that show business was right for him.
He eventually became so successful on radio that he had fans who would meet him in person. For much of his youth, Merv Griffin overweight and some fans would get shocked to see a piano player who wasn’t in the best shape. He decided to lose weight – managing to lose 80 pounds. And realized that his physical appearance crucial for meeting others and for appearing on camera, which is something he eventually wanted to do.
In the 1940s, Merv Griffin would perform at local nightclubs and even started his own music label. He would not only play the piano but would also sing and record songs and it wasn’t long until he became a star. He discovered by Doris Day at one of his nightclub performances. She encouraged him to pursue a career in acting.
He appeared in supporting roles in a few feature films including The Boy from Oklahoma, So This Is Love, and Phantom of the Rue Morgue. However, his film career didn’t last long as he didn’t particularly enjoy working in cinema.
However, he was becoming increasingly enchanted with the new medium of television and decided to try his hand at the industry. One wonders if he knew then, that he’d become one of the most iconic personalities in American television history!
Before we tell you more about Merv Griffin’s life and career and why she forced to give up acting, please like this video and subscribe to FactsVerse for more interesting stories about pop culture and your favorite celebrities. Now, back to the video…
Owing to his incredible persona which he cultivated as a nightclub performer and as a film actor, Merv Griffin decided to pursue a career as a TV game show host. TV game shows had become all the rage in the country. And often, the hosts became even more famous than the contestants.
From 1958 to 1962, Merv Griffin became the host of the show Play Your Hunch. This was a skills-based TV game show and it soon became one of the most popular game shows in the country. It’s remembered as one of the best game shows ever created in America.
Merv fell in love with the medium of game shows and hosted many different talk shows including The Price Is Right and To Tell The Truth. He also produced shows that he hosted such as Word for Word.
As his profile on TV grew bigger, he was eventually asked to fill in for talk show hosts on occasion. He was so naturally great at conversing with others on television that it was in his destiny to become the star of his own show.
The Merv Griffin Show premiered on October 1st, 1962. It had several seasons and went on occasional hiatuses before finally getting cancelled in 1986.
The Merv Griffin Show groundbreaking and should considered the ‘mother of all talk shows.’ This is because The Merv Griffin Show managed to mix light entertainment with groundbreaking discussion. The Merv Griffin Show wasn’t simply for celebrities to plug their latest project.
It was also an avenue for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to discuss his aims and ideals for fighting against segregation in America. Many of the world’s greatest entertainers first got exposure while appearing on The Merv Griffin Show. British actor Michael Caine had one of his first interviews on The Merv Griffin Show in 1965. At that time, Merv Griffin felt that the young Englishman would become an international star. By the time Michael Caine appeared on The Merv Griffin Show again in 1983, he had become exactly that!
As Merv Griffin became a famous talk show host, he also used his money to produce other television shows. Without a doubt, his most famous creations were Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune – both based on formats that he created himself. His years of playing hangman as a child helped inspire him to create Wheel of Fortune. It should also mentioned that he wrote and composed the now-famous theme tune for Jeopardy! No doubt, his years as a piano player came in handy!
Merv Griffin married to Julann from 1959 until their divorce in 1976. They had one child, Tony. Merv seldom spoke about his personal life and managed to brush off nosy paparazzi who wanted to expose his private life.
Merv Griffin was someone who managed to live his life to the fullest. He became such a huge star that eventually he asked to be a guest on talk shows. In fact, he was so popular that his name often referenced by other celebrities during interviews. Even if you don’t know his name, it’s likely you’ve enjoyed a television program that produced by Merv Griffin.
He had a rich social life and fraternized with many celebrities. He was even friends with The Reagan family and served as an honorary pallbearer for President Ronald Reagan’s family.
In 1974, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was the recipient of a Doctor of Laws degree on the National University of Ireland, Galway. After his passing, Merv Griffin was inducted in the Television Hall of Fame.
His business success made him a wealthy man though he apparently never knew what his actual net worth was – once stating that it would make him uncomfortable and keep him up all night!
One unfortunate situation during his life is that there were many nosy inquirers who questioned his sexuality. Even after his passing, there were rumors that he was a closeted gay man. No doubt these infringements on his privacy troubled him – though he managed to mostly live a life that was full of one great fortune after another.
WHY THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW CANCELLED
Despite the enormous success of The Merv Griffin Show and Merv Griffin’s own celebrity, the show eventually came to an end. We now know why it cancelled after so many years of success.
The show’s ratings plummeting, and Merv Griffin eventually got bored of working on the show. He felt that the show had become more of a responsibility rather than an enjoyable project.
He decided he didn’t want to work on the show and wanted to focus on other projects. This is when he decided to work on Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune. These pet projects of his is what solidified him as a TV mogul.
Merv Griffin passed away on August 12, 2007, at the age of 82 in Los Angeles. Over a decade after his passing, he remains an icon of American television – and it’s unlikely that anyone will fill his shoes. His life is one that’s truly inspirational. He came from a solid middle-class upbringing and managed to grow from a radio piano player to a nightclub performer to a supporting actor to a game show host to a talk show host to a TV producer. Now, that’s an impressive resume!
If you’ve never seen an episode of The Merv Griffin Show, now might be the best time to check out an interview or two!
So, now let’s hear from you:
Are you a fan of Merv Griffin? Did you grow up watching The Merv Griffin Show?
Here’s what we’d like to know from you:
Do you think that Merv Griffin was one of the best talk show hosts that America has ever had?
Or are there any contemporary late night hosts that usurp him?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
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