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Griffin, Merv (1925-2007)  
 
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Merv Griffin was a popular band singer, the host of his own successful talk show for over 20 years, the creator and producer of such long-running television game shows as Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, and a wealthy media mogul.

Although Griffin married and reportedly had affairs with several women, including Judy Garland, his bisexuality was apparently an open secret, especially within the show business communities of Los Angles and New York.

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He was married to Julann Wright from 1958 until they divorced in 1976. They met when Wright was a secretary-assistant to television personality Robert Q. Lewis. The couple had a son, Anthony Patrick, born in 1959.

The divorce was officially attributed to "irreconcilable differences." In an autobiography, Griffin described the divorce as coming at "a pivotal time in my career, one of uncertainty and constant doubt. So much attention was being focused on me that my marriage felt the strain."

After the divorce, Griffin was publicly, if perhaps not romantically, linked to several female celebrities, particularly actress Eva Gabor, and was a close friend of former First Lady Nancy Reagan. He served as an honorary pall bearer at the funeral of President Ronald Reagan in 2004.

Griffin remained rigidly in the closet. He expertly, and often jocularly, sidestepped any questions in interviews concerning his private life or sexuality. For example, in a 2005 interview with the New York Times, he said: "I tell everybody that I'm a quartre-sexual. I will do anything with anybody for a quarter."

Much to his consternation, Griffin became embroiled in two high-profile scandals in 1991. He was first sued by Brent Plott, a former employee of Griffin's, who filed a $200 million palimony lawsuit.

Later that same year, choreographer Deney Terrio, the host of the television variety show Dance Fever, which Griffin had created, filed a lawsuit against Griffin alleging sexual harassment.

Griffin characterized both lawsuits as extortion; they were both ultimately dismissed.

When Griffin died in 2007, The Hollywood Reporter posted an article written by Ray Richmond, who once worked for Griffin, on its web site with the opening line, "Merv Griffin was gay." The article was promptly removed from the web site only to be re-posted later with the benign headline, "Griffin never revealed man behind the curtain."

The international news agency Reuters picked up the article as part of its usual entertainment feed but then cancelled it as well, with the explanation that the story was dropped "as it did not meet our standards for news."

By then, however, the Internet-based information aggregator Yahoo! News published the article, via Reuters, with the much more explicit headline, "Merv Griffin died a closeted homosexual."

A highly salacious, and largely unverified, biography, Merv Griffin: A Life in the Closet, by Darwin Porter, was published in 2009. In his book, Porter alleges that Griffin had a long list of famous male sexual partners, including, among others, James Dean, Rock Hudson, Roddy McDowall, Montgomery Clift, Peter Lawford, and Marlon Brando.

Biography and Career

Mervyn Edward Griffin, Jr. was born on July 6, 1925 in San Mateo, California, to Mervyn Edward Griffin Sr., a successful stockbroker, and the former Rita Robinson.

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Merv Griffin. Photograph by Linda Bisset.
  
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