s skippy the bush kangaroo: r _ p, m e r _ g r _ f f _ n

skippy the bush kangaroo

Sunday, August 12, 2007

r _ p, m e r _ g r _ f f _ n

merv griffin, creator of jeopardy! and the wheel of fortune, as well as being a world-renown talk show host, has died at age 82. asspress:

griffin died of prostate cancer, according to a statement from his the family that was released by marcia newberger, spokeswoman for the griffin group/merv griffin entertainment.

from his beginning as a $100-a-week san francisco radio singer, griffin moved on as vocalist for freddy martin's band, sometime film actor in films and tv game and talk show host. his "the merv griffin show" lasted more than 20 years, and griffin's said his capacity to listen contributed to his success…

but his biggest break financially came from inventing and producing "jeopardy" in the 1960s and "wheel of fortune" in the 1970s. after they had become the hottest game shows in television, griffin sold the rights to coca-cola for $250 million in 1986, retaining a share of the profits.

after they became the hottest game shows in television, griffin sold the rights to them to the columbia pictures television unit for $250 million, retaining a share of the profits. he started spreading the sale money around in treasury bonds, stocks and other investments.

he made forbes' list of richest americans several times and started putting money in treasury bonds, stocks and other investments. but he went into real estate and other ventures because "i was never so bored in my life."
merv bought and refurbished the old beverly hilton hotel, which is just a mile or so from skippy international headquarters. it now is often host to big events like the golden globes.

and tho skippy never had the chance to show off his stand-up comedy skills on the old merv griffin show, merv was legendary among comics for giving young unknown talents their first chance. time:

if you were a young stand-up comedian looking to launch a career in the 1960s and '70s, your ultimate goal was to land a guest spot on johnny carson's tonight show. but for many of the up-and-comers who weren't yet on carson's radar, the first tv stop was a friendlier, more accessible, less-high-pressure showcase run by a former big-band singer and game show host named merv griffin.

his show didn't have the cachet or the clout of carson's. but griffin and his producers were smart enough to realize that to compete they had to take more chances, and that made him more receptive to some of the era's most groundbreaking new talent. george carlin and richard pryor were little-known stand-up comics performing in the folk and jazz clubs of greenwich village in 1965 when scouts from griffin's show discovered them just weeks apart and booked them on the show. griffin gave both of them multi-show contracts and had them on regularly for the next year, giving them their first sustained tv exposure and a major boost to their careers. pryor was a particular favorite. "our own little richie pryor," griffin would announce as he brought on the gangly, wide-eyed kid from peoria, who did physical bits and a famous imitation of a children's production of "rumplestilskin" on griffin's show, before he developed his more raw and racially provocative style. a few years later griffin took his nephew to see pryor on stage for the first time, at a theater in baltimore. he was shocked to hear "the filithiest routine i'd ever heard in my life."

if carson was tv's aloof and somewhat imposing arbiter of taste, griffin, who died on sunday at 82, was the welcoming, always enthusiastic showbiz uncle, who seemed to want everyone he brought on his show to become a star. he laughed at their jokes, gushed at their stories, joined them in songs. like that other great tv natural of the era, bob barker, griffin perfected an authentic, unironic, people-friendly manner that was seemingly impervious to the winds of change.
a bit of trivia: merv himself composed that catchy little theme song for final jeopardy.

show biz folks everywhere will say a little prayer for merv tonite, in honor of one of the most affable and savvy entertainers to every stand either in the spot lite or behind the scenes.

if the answer is, a magnanimous multi-talented soul who never stopped working hard or loving his job, the question surely is, who was merv griffin?


posted by skippy at 5:37 PM |


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