Merv Griffin

Merv Griffin (6 Jul 1925), got his start as a piano player and singer in San Mateo, California.


Mervyn Edward "Merv" Griffin Jr was born 6 Jul 1925 in San Mateo, California.

"Merv Griffin Wins NY Press Plaudits", San Mateo Times, 20 Oct 1948 : "San Mateo's baritone, Merv Griffin, is drawing press 'raves' on Broadway and soon will go on tour with an all-star stage troupe.  Young Griffin is appearing with Freddie Martin and his well known band at the Strand theater in New York City.  Recently, the New York Daily Mirror, in a review of the show, wrote: 'Merv Griffin is a brilliant baritone, He croons "Because," the rhythmic "Pecos Bill" novelty and "Miserlou" to show off a good voice in the different tempos, plus strong personality.'  Early in November, Griffin and the troupe will go on tour.  They will be at the Cocoanut Grove in Los Angeles for a four-month engagement.  Griffin is the son of Mr and Mrs Mervyn Griffin of 705 S Eldorado street, San Mateo."

"Merv Griffin at High School", San Mateo Times, 10 Mar 1949 : "The freshman and the sophomore classes of San Mateo high school were entertained today by Merv Griffin, a former San Mateo high school student, who has won fame in the music world.  The talented piano player and vocalist was graduated from San Mateo high in 1941.  After graduation he went on USO camp tours with a troupe which he had organized.  At the close of the war Griffin produced a radio program in San Francisco and shifted from piano playing to singing.  At the present time he is one of Freddy Martin's top soloists and has just had his first record released.  Griffin brought with him to his alma mater an old friend, Jack Fina, to accompany him on the piano.  Fina has his own orchestra, currently playing at the Hotel Claremont in Berkeley...."


"Talk of the Times", by Jane Poole, San Mateo Times, 23 Dec 1949 : "Christmas Visitor ... After a nine-month tour with Freddie Martin's orchestra, featured vocalist Merv Griffin has a few days to relax .... He'll be at home with his parents, the Mervyn Griffins of South Eldorado street, until next week ... Then off to Hollywood for an appearance at the Palladium, San Mateo's stellar singer will be back in this locale late in February, though The Martin aggregation has an engagement at the St Francis hotel starting February 23"

Merv was with Freddy Martin's orchestra for three years before striking out on his own in 1951, on the RCA Victor label.  On 24 Aug 1951, the San Mateo Times is reporting that Merv is now in New York, so perhaps he has moved there by this date.  A few days later he is being reported as "the new singer on the Freddy Martin TV Show" in New York City.  Somewhere around this time (early 1950s), in New York City, he was the roommate, possibly or even evidently the lover of actor Roddy McDowall.  He is mentioned as Roddy's "roommate" in Patricia Bosworth's biography of Montgomery Clift.  Of course both men, were each successful enough that they didn't need roommates to help pay the rent, yet Patricia doesn't seem to draw the inference.


Eddie Fisher, in his autobiography, speaking of Elizabeth Taylor states "I had met her briefly years earlier at a party hosted by Merv Griffin and Roddy McDowall in the apartment they shared in the Dakota.... she was recently divorced from her first husband Nicky Hilton..."