Monday, August 13, 2007

Things you probably didn't know about Merv

"Merv was said to favor Vanna White as the letter-turner for Wheel of Fortune not because she was particularly good with the alphabet but because she had "a big head," and big heads are thought to read better on TV."

-- From "10 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Merv Griffin"

Merv Griffin's passing signals as great a cultural shift as Karl Rove's decision to pull out of George Bush's ear canal, and while the praise has come from all directions, the best insider's impressions have been unspooling over at Past Deadline, home of our pal, Hollywood Reporter entertainment columnist Ray Richmond.

Ray was a talent coordinator and segment producer on The Merv Griffin Show toward the very end of the show's run in the 1980s and, as he says, "got to see up-close the kind of guy Merv was-- namely, warm, charming, energetic, gregarious and only moderately Hollywood-phony."

In the hours since Merv's death was announced yesterday, Ray has been spilling out lots of memories, trivia, funny stories and secrets that only can come from someone who knew him. And the fact that Ray is the most perceptive and insightful columnist in the industry doesn't hurt, either.

#9 on the list of 10 Things You Probably Didn't Know:

"It was said that Johnny Carson was insanely jealous of Merv's wealth even though Carson was hardly a pauper. Johnny was perhaps a better stage personality than was Merv, but Merv was 10 times the businessman. And Merv got a great chuckle out of Johnny's purported money envy."

Ray's writings are the makings of the first posthumous Merv Griffin bio.

Check out the Mervyana here at Ray's Past Deadline site.

(FUN (if eerie) FACT: Merv died one year and one day after the death of fellow TV talk show host Mike Douglas-- with whom he was often confused.)

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