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 Merv Griffin: 40 Interesting People

The Merv Griffin Show: 40 of the Most Interesting People of Our Time

1962 NR

Culled from the astounding roster of 25,000 guests that appeared on Merv Griffin's award-winning talk show during its historic run, this collection of clips rounds up the 40 most fascinating subjects to ever sit in Merv's interview chair. Highlights include Richard Burton's musings on Elizabeth Taylor, a young Tom Cruise reflecting on his breakthrough role in Risky Business and Martin Luther King Jr. discussing civil rights with Harry Belafonte.

  • Merv Griffin in Alice in Wonderland Alice in Wonderland