Photo of Merv Griffin Merv Griffin

Born July 6, 1925, in San Mateo, Calif., Merv Griffin began his career as a radio singer in the 1940s. By the time of his death (from prostate cancer, Aug. 12, 2007), he'd transcended his showbiz roots to conquer the world of high finance.

As a youth, Griffin eschewed sports for the arts, beginning piano lessons at age 4 and putting on shows from his back porch. Attaining fame as a nightclub crooner, he made his entrée into films after Doris Day arranged a screen test for him.

After appearing in several movies (including 1953's So This Is Love), Griffin found a home on the small screen, first as a game-show host and then moving on to an extended run as the star of his own TV gabfest. During this time, he also became a game-show impresario, creating "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune." Griffin subsequently turned his attention to investing, snapping up radio stations, hotels and casinos.

Merv Griffin in Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland

1985 NR

A veritable time warp of famous faces -- including Sammy Davis Jr., Red Buttons, Roddy McDowall, Sally Struthers, Scott Baio and Ringo Starr -- takes over this updated musical version of Lewis Carroll's famed children's story. Conceived by the legendary Irwin Allen ("Lost in Space") as a vehicle for 9-year-old child star Natalie Gregory, who stars as Alice, the program originally aired as a two-part made-for-television movie.

  • Merv Griffin in Merv Griffin: 40 Interesting People Merv Griffin: 40 Interesting People