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Entertainment Mogul Merv Griffin Dies at 82

Merv Griffin, who turned game shows such as "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" into a multi-million dollar entertainment empire, died of prostate cancer at age 82. A television critic talks about Griffin's rise through the industry.

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  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    From his days in front of the camera interviewing an array of personalities…

  • MERV GRIFFIN, Television Entertainer:

    You look terrific.

  • TV GUEST:

    I feel marvelous.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … to his production work behind the scenes as the creator of wildly profitable game shows…

  • ANNOUNCER:

    This is "Jeopardy!"

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    … Merv Griffin was a television entertainer and innovator whose work on the small screen still resonates today. Griffin was born near San Francisco in 1925. He began in show business as a singer and had one big hit.

  • MERV GRIFFIN (singing):

    I've got a lovely bunch of coconuts…

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    He then moved on to launch and host a daytime talk show that would run in various incarnations for more than 20 years. Before Oprah, there was Merv. He interviewed some 25,000 guests over 5,500 shows. Presidential candidate Richard Nixon appeared in 1967.

  • MERV GRIFFIN:

    You have that stigma because of losing two big contests.

    RICHARD NIXON, Former President of the United States: The way you combat it is to win something.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    On another occasion, Griffin fawned over Sophia Loren.

  • MERV GRIFFIN:

    You're a beautiful woman.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    And he hosted Orson Welles in 1985 in what would be the actor and director's last interview.

  • MERV GRIFFIN:

    You celebrated a big birthday, didn't you?

  • ORSON WELLES, Director:

    I didn't celebrate it. I just had it.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    But perhaps Griffin's greatest success came as a businessman in the entertainment field.

    ALEX TREBEK, Host, "Jeopardy!": Judy?

  • CONTESTANT:

    What are small fry?

  • ALEX TREBEK:

    Yes.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    He created "Jeopardy!" and wrote its famous theme music. Griffin estimated that the little ditty alone had earned him up to $80 million in royalties. And his "Wheel of Fortune" is now the longest continuously running game show in history, on the air since 1975.

  • CONTESTANT:

    I'm going to solve, Pat.

    PAT SAJAK, Host, "Wheel of Fortune": You are? Go ahead.

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