Entertainer Merv Griffin was not only one of TV's most well known faces and voices, but he was one of the industry's prime behind-the-scenes movers. He died of prostate cancer Sunday at age 82.
Griffin was a fixture on television, starting in the mid-1950s. He appeared on game shows and variety shows, and he hosted talk shows — late-night, primetime and daytime. He was known for his genial manner, and he interviewed everyone from comedian Jack Benny to political figures such as Martin Luther King Jr.
His show introduced audiences to new fads, such as break-dancing, and featured new musical acts, including the Jackson Five.
Griffin got his start as a singer, as a kid in San Mateo, Calif. He learned to play piano when he was 4, and his baritone voice landed the teenaged Griffin a job with bandleader Freddy Martin.
The singer became an actor, debuting in the 1953 movie So This is Love, opposite Kathryn Grayson.
Griffin went on to sing in nightclubs, and to croon and guest host on TV and radio. In 1962, his many talents led NBC to give Griffin his own show.
Despite Griffin's omnipresence on TV, he was perhaps even more influential behind the scenes, as a producer.
After hosting To Tell the Truth and The Price Is Right, Griffin went on to create two of the most famous game shows in TV history: Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune.
In 2004, Griffin received a Daytime Emmy Award for lifetime achievement.
In addition to being a shrewd entertainment executive, Griffin was also a real estate mogul. He once owned a Beverly Hills Hotel, along with resorts and casinos in Atlantic City and the Bahamas. At his California ranch, he raised thoroughbred horses.
One of Griffin's final appearances on TV came on Late Night with David Letterman in 2001. During the appearance, he gave a tour of his four-story yacht and played the piano.
Before he died, Griffin was said to be working on a new TV game show called Crosswords.