Merv Griffin: A Life in the Closet
AbeBooks Seller Since March 25, 2003Quantity: 1
AbeBooks Seller Since March 25, 2003Quantity: 1
About this Item
Title: Merv Griffin: A Life in the Closet
Publisher: U.S.A.: Blood Moon Productions
Publication Date: 2009
Book Condition: New
Dust Jacket Condition: New
Edition: 1st Edition.
About this title
This is the first post-mortem, unauthorized insight into Merv Griffin, a failed singer and unsuccessful actor who unexpectedly rewrote the rules of America's broadcasting industry. He became the richest man in TV, befriended everyone in media who mattered, bought a casino, and maintained a secret life as America's most famously closeted homosexual. From a controversial writer whose previous work has virtually re-defined the art of the celebrity biography, HERE'S MERV.From the Publisher:
Bland, jolly, and innocuous, Merv Griffin was a diplomatic schmoozer whose broadcasted image appeared as a regular guest in our living rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms, oozing affability and setting a standard for the way we wanted to be. Even during Vietnam, the Sexual Revolution, and the impeachment of Richard Nixon, Merv rarely, if ever, veered from the network's concept of daytime TV as detached escapist fun for the whole family.
At least some of those presuppositions have been shredded thanks to the release of Darwin Porter's newest overview of the famously famous and spectacularly wealthy.
Porter provides a rich feast of guilty pleasures: Show-biz history, in the words of an earlier reviewer, that's "writ large, smart, and with great style."
It addresses more than "Merely Merv," a subject which in the hands of a lesser writer could have been as dull and prosaic as some of Merv's telecasts. Merv is merely the departure point for an overview of show-biz in the '50s, the raw ambition, the hush-a-by scandals, and the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that, 'till now, were either too controversial or too libelous to actually make it into print.
The author first met his subject in 1959 when Darwin (then the 21-year-old head of the Student Press at the University of Miami) hired Merv (then a 34-year-old boy singer with a Big Band) to provide the entertainment for his graduating class's senior prom for a fee of $500.
Based on the friendship that evolved from that event, Porter began the relentless compilation of data which made its way into this book.
And what a book it is. No one ever defined Merv as celibate, but even by the standards of TV Land, Merv was more promiscuous and more eccentric than anyone outside the entertainment industry could have imagined at the time. En route, he virtually rewrote the rules of television broadcasting, invented the game show as we know it today, racheted up the razzmatazz quotient of casinos around the world, and befriended everyone who mattered in politics and entertainment.
Born in San Mateo, California in 1925 to bankrupted Irish-American parents, he died a self-made billionaire in 2007 surrounded by friends, family and a public legacy that was one of the most immediately recognizable in America.
Oh, and in case you didn't know it already, Merv was gay. Promiscuously gay and (offscreen) flamboyantly gay, with a sexual history that included most of the "pretty boys" of super-agent Henry Willson's stable (i.e, Rock, Tab, Guy Madison, and Rory), virtually any male associated with either Liberace or George Cukor, and an uninterrupted string of bronzed actors, models, entertainment-industry wannabes, and porn stars, including gay porno mega-star Cal Culver (aka Casey Donovan.
As startling as these revelations are (how the studios managed to pull the wool over our eyes back then!), the news, as revealed in Porter's biography, isn't the rather pedestrian fact that Merv liked guys. Described in well-documented detail are young Merv's involvements with an archbishop, scores of A-list actors and actresses, various captains of industry, and politicians who included Eisenhower, JFK, Nixon, The Fords, and the Reagans.
Of special interest is Merv's involvement in the Alzheimer-derived incapacity of former president Ronald Reagan, as supervised by former pinup girl and starlet, First Lady Nancy (Davis) Reagan.
Porter handles Merv's penchant for successful schmoozing, both in and out of the boudoir, with tact, respect, and a gift for delivering punchy, well-researched anecdotes about show-biz.
Author and social critic Larry Post described Merv's predicament like this: "The real irony [of the Herculean efforts Merv took to conceal his gender preference] involves the enduring power of the Hollywood closet that held even a billionaire locked in its embrace, paying homage to the presumed prejudices of the public."
Although the behavior laid out within Porter's texts might be raunchier and more lurid than what we might have expected from congenial Uncle Merv, it's undoubtedly the kind of book which, after everybody in Hollywood reads it, blogs it, dissects it, and in some cases, becomes apoplectic over it, will be defined as an indispensible guide to the evolution of a uniquely American art form: Merv Griffin.
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