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Griffin, Merv (1925-2007)  
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In 1964, Griffin founded Merv Griffin Productions and established his reputation as a successful television game show developer with Jeopardy!, a quiz show where contestants are given an answer and have to formulate the appropriate question. He also produced the show and wrote its memorable theme music as well.

Jeopardy! premiered in March 1964 and ran for eleven years; it was later revived in 1984 and has continued to be a staple of syndicated television.

Griffin also developed and produced Wheel of Fortune, in which contestants compete to identify a mystery word or phrase. It premiered in January 1975 and went on to become the most successful game show in American television history.

Like Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune remains on the air in syndication.

In 1984, Griffin expanded his company to Merv Griffin Enterprises and broadened his interests to include hotels and casinos and real estate, as well as his television production company.

In 1986, he sold the television production company to Columbia Pictures Television for $250 million. His wealth in 2003 was estimated at $1.2 billion.

Personal Life

In April 1991, Griffin found himself in the middle of a media storm when Brent Plott, a 37-year old former employee, filed a $200 million palimony lawsuit against the mogul, claiming breach of contract.

"We lived together, shared the same bed, the same house," Plott revealed in an interview with NBC Nightly News. "He told me he loved me."

Although he had left Griffin's employ in 1985 and moved to Florida, Plott claimed that he was entitled to the money he was seeking because as his lover, Griffin had assured him that he would provide "solace and emotional support," and claimed that Griffin had promised to take financial care of him for the rest of his life.

Through his attorney, Griffin denied that his relationship with Plott had been sexual. "This is a shameless attempt to extort money from me," Griffin stated through his spokesperson. "This former bodyguard and horse trainer was paid $250 a week, lived in one of two apartments underneath my former house as part of his security function, and left my payroll six or seven years ago. His charges are ridiculous and untrue."

In November 1991, the Los Angeles Superior Court dismissed Plott's case, but not before details of the palimony suit and speculation on Griffin's private life appeared in hundreds of newspapers and periodicals, as well as on television and radio news programs.

A month later, Griffin was served with another lawsuit. Deney Terrio, who had hosted the television variety show Dance Fever from 1979 to 1985, and which Griffin had created, claimed that in 1978 he had been sexually harassed by Griffin, and was now seeking $11.3 million in damages from his former employer.

In his lawsuit, Terrio claimed that Griffin "made on-going explicit homosexual advances" toward him and that "Griffin persisted in said advances often speaking of the financial gains that [Terrio] would enjoy."

Through a spokesperson, Griffin asserted that Terrio's allegations were completely false.

Again, details of the lawsuit and assumptions about Griffin's life made the rounds of media outlets.

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