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US Television Mogul Merv Griffin Dies

Merv Griffin, who moved from big-band crooner to television mogul, died August 12 of prostate cancer.

He was 82. Born in the San Francisco area, he began singing on local radio programs at age 19, and later toured as a singer with bandleader Freddy Martin.

Moving on to television, Merv Griffin hosted game shows and talk shows, while also creating the hugely successful game shows Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune.

His own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, lasted more than 20 years. The eclectic guest list encompassed rock stars, actors, and public figures including Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As a long-time friend of former President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy, Griffin interviewed the couple only a few months after Reagan's 1981 assassination attempt. "My father was a visionary," said Griffin's son Tony in an August 12 statement. "He loved business and continued his many projects and holdings even while hospitalized."

When he entered the hospital last month, Merv Griffin was working on the first week of production of a new syndicated game show, Merv Griffin's Crosswords.

Besides his son, Griffin is survived by his daughter-in-law, Tricia, and two grandchildren. The family said an invitation-only funeral Mass will take place at a later date at The Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills.