Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin

Arnold Schwarzenegger made his talk show debut in the US on Merv's talk show in 1974.

Actor Robert Loggia, with whom he appeared in the "Kids Take Over" episode of "I Married a Princess" (2005), was his closest friend.

Although the divorced father of one son, Tony, and a constant companion to actress Eva Gabor over the years, it was generally known in the Hollywood circle that Griffin was gay. In 1991 the 65-year-old Griffin faced a multimillion-dollar palimony suit from former Griffin bodyguard and horse trainer Brent Plott, a 37-year-old who maintained he was Griffin's business consultant and lover and was entitled to a portion of Griffin's amassed fortune. That same year, Deney Terrio, host of "Dancer Fever," filed an $11.3 sexual harassment lawsuit against Griffin. Both cases were thrown out.

Best friend of Robert Loggia.

Born in San Mateo, California, he took to the piano at age 4 and received lessons at a music conservatory in nearby San Francisco. In 1945 he heard about an audition for a piano player at KFRC radio but found out that they needed a singer instead and applied for that job. He got it and within a few days was hosting his own 15-minute radio show five days a week.

Declared 4F after failing several military physical exams during which a slight heart murmur was detected, the then-overweight Griffin took a job in the supply depot of a San Francisco shipyard to contribute to the WWII effort.

Especially close to Nancy Davis and was a constant companion during President Reagan's battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was also there for her after the President's death.

Father of Tony Griffin.

Has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

His colt Stevie Wonderboy, named after Stevie Wonder, won the 2005 Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

His Griffin Group included film and TV production; a luxury home development in La Quinta; closed-circuit coverage of horse racing across the county; a real estate brokerage specializing in high-end residential properties; and a stable of thoroughbreds that included Stevie Wonderboy, the 2005 Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner at Belmont Park.

Hit #101 on the Billboard 'Bubbling Under the Hot 100' Chart in 1961 with "Banned in Boston" (Carlton 540).

Hospitalized for a recurrence of his prostate cancer [July 18, 2007].

In the 1997 "Seinfeld" (1990) episode "The Merv Griffin Show", Kramer rescues Griffin's discarded set from a dumpster, and stages his own talk show in his apartment.

KFRC billed him as "America's New Romantic Singing Star" in his early radio years. But at 5'9" and 240 pounds, his romantic image on radio certainly didn't fit his true look. After a female fan from Fresno dropped by the station to meet him in person and burst into laughter upon seeing him, Griffin went on a crash diet and dropped 80 pounds. Griffin would fight weight problems all his life. He admitted that he was a life-time smoker, ate whatever he wanted and hated to exercise.

Longtime friend of Ronald Reagan, Nancy Davis, Eva Gabor and Zsa Zsa Gabor.

Member of Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity.

Not content with catering merely to the celebrity publicity mongers on his self-titled talk show, his unusually wide spectrum of guests ranged from superstars (Bette Davis, Joan Crawford, Orson Welles Woody Allen and Richard Pryor) to the more controversial (Abbie Hoffman, Truman Capote, Gypsy Rose Lee and transsexual Christine Jorgensen), to the political mighty (Richard Nixon, Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King).

Over the years bought and sold more than 20 hotels, gaming resorts and riverboats, including Resorts International in Atlantic City, and the Bahamas.

Received a lifetime achievement award from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 2005, and a similar award from the Museum of Television and Radio in New York.