Merv Griffin made millions throughout his entertainment career. People may not know this talk-show host created “Jeopardy!” in his life.
But Griffin, who interviewed everyone from Orson Welles to Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., used his wit and creative mind throughout his life. Let’s talk about “Jeopardy!” for a minute, though.
Fans have discovered the show in its most recent incarnation with the late Alex Trebek as host. They also know there’s “Final Jeopardy!”, where contestants are asked to make their final responses. You know the jingle for “Final Jeopardy!”? When you hear it, then it’s easily recognizable.
Griffin Banks ‘Close to $70-80 Million’ For ‘Jeopardy!’ Jingle
Back in 2005, Griffin was interviewed by the New York Times prior to being honored by the Museum of Television and Radio in New York City.
He talked about selling Merv Griffin Productions, which included “Jeopardy!” and “Wheel of Fortune,” to Coca-Cola for $250 million. Griffin was still receiving royalties for that “Jeopardy!” theme.
“That little 30 seconds has made me a fortune, millions,” Griffin said. How much? “You don’t want to know,” he replied. The Times interviewer pushed him. “Probably close to $70-$80 million.”
Yes sir, “Jeopardy!” kept the money rolling in toward Griffin, who got his show business start as a Big Band singer. Griffin made sound investments with his money in real estate, hotels, and other business ventures.
Alex Trebek Said Merv Griffin ‘Had No Interest’ In Show
In what might sound like blasphemy to some people, late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek said Griffin “had no interest” in “Jeopardy!”.
Griffin supposedly preferred “Wheel of Fortune” to “Jeopardy!”, brainstorming the word puzzles for that somewhat less cerebral game show, Showbiz Cheat Sheet reports.
Trebek said he got along with Griffin. But he was not blind to Griffin’s hands-off approach to “Jeopardy!” in comparison to his embrace of “Wheel of Fortune.”
“Merv was actually a very warm man,” Trebek wrote in his memoir “The Answer Is …”. “He had the unique ability to draw you in and make you feel like whatever you were saying was the only thing that mattered to him in that moment.”
Trebek did not spend much time with Griffin, but he valued those occasions when they did meet.
“The few times I spent with Merv were very special, but we didn’t have much of a relationship,” Trebek noted. “He left ‘Jeopardy!’ alone completely. He involved himself the first year or two in the design and colors of the set. And he did guest star with me on an episode of ‘The Golden Girls’ that was shot on our set. But that was it.”