Mervyn Edward "Merv" Griffin, Jr. was an American television host, singer, and media mogul. He began his career as a radio and big band singer who went on to appear in movies and on Broadway. During the 1960s, Griffin hosted his own talk show, The Merv Griffin Show, and created the game shows Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Click, and Merv Griffin's Crosswords. He is considered an entertainment business magnate.
Griffin was born into an Irish-American family on July 6, 1925, in San Mateo, California, to Mervyn Griffin Sr., a stock broker and Rita Griffin, a homemaker. Raised as a Roman Catholic, Griffin started singing in his church choir as a boy, and by his teens was earning extra money as a church organist. This is one of the reasons he got into show business early; he was considered a piano prodigy. He attended San Mateo High School, class of 1942, and continued to aid in financing the school.
During World War II, Merv was declared 4F after failing several military physical exams due to having a slight heart murmur. Drafted for service during the Korean War, he was then deemed fit for service, but was considered too old as the draft limit was 26 and he had just turned 27.
Griffin started as a singer on radio at age 19, appearing on San Francisco Sketchbook, a nationally syndicated program based at KFRC. Griffin was overweight as a teenager, which disappointed his radio fans. Embarrassed by their reaction, Griffin resolved to lose weight and change his image, losing 80 pounds in four months. Freddy Martin heard him on the radio show and asked Griffin to tour with his orchestra, which he did for four years.