Frater Merv Griffin Passes into the Chapter Eternal
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Frater Merv Griffin (Gamma-Delta, University of Miami) worked tirelessly to develop the entertainment industry until his death at the age of 82 this weekend from complications with Colon Cancer.
From his beginning as a $100-a-week radio singer, Griffin became a sometime film actor, initiate of the Gamma-Delta chapter, TV talk-show host and creator of a game-show empire that landed him on Forbes' list of the richest Americans. He was the brainchild of the continually successful 'Jeopardy' and 'Wheel of Fortune.'
Though he sold the rights to these shows, to the tune of $250 million dollars, he still retained rights to the 'Jeopardy' theme song which he wrote.
In recent years, Frater Griffin was a real estate mogul controlling Resorts International, which operated hotels and casinos from Atlantic City, N.J., to the Caribbean. Frater Griffin also rated frequent mentions in the sports pages as a successful race horse owner. His colt Stevie Wonderboy, named for entertainer Stevie Wonder, won the $1.5 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile in 2005.
"Frater Merv Griffin was a great Frater, bringing joy to millions with his smile and intellect, while creating the greatest game shows North America has ever seen," said Grand Prytanis Mark Johnson (Nu-Theta, University of Utah). "He was a great man and entertainer who will be missed deeply."
Mervyn Edward Griffin Jr. was born in San Mateo, south of San Francisco, the son of a stockbroker. His aunt Claudia Robinson taught him to play piano at 4, and soon he was staging shows on the back porch of the family home. After studying at San Mateo Junior College and the University of San Francisco, Griffin quit school to apply for a job as pianist at radio station KFRC in San Francisco. The station needed a vocalist instead. He auditioned and was hired.
Frater Merv Griffin, a long-time friend of fellow entertainer Frater Ronald Reagan (Iota, Eureka College), was initiated into the Gamma-Delta Chapter at the University of Miami in 1949. When Frater Reagan passed away in 2004, Frater Griffin was a pallbearer and speaker at his funeral.
After some big breaks getting into the entertainment industry, Frater Griffin finally got his biggest when, in 1965, Westinghouse Broadcasting introduced "The Merv Griffin Show" in syndicated TV. Frater Griffin had at last found the forum for his talents. He never underestimated the intelligence of his audience, offering figures such as Bertrand Russell, Pablo Casals, and Will and Ariel Durant, as well as movie stars and entertainers. After a couple failed attempts at creating game shows, "Jeopardy," which began in 1964, became a huge moneymaker for Griffin, as did the more conventional "Wheel of Fortune," which started in 1975.
The Offices of the Grand Chapter extends our heartfelt condolences and thoughts with his son Anthony, friends and Fraters throughout the TKE Nation. To send condolences, click here.
If you would like to see your chapter news here, contact Communications Coordinator Tom McAninch.