A tough gig, but someone had to do it...
(..and yes, we dated, which I felt was an
important "goodwill" aspect of the job
and, an obligation I tried to fulfill as often
SEVEN DIFFERENT STATES;
HALF A DOZEN COUNTRIES;
A THOUSAND BEAUTIFUL GIRLS..
..(can I still say that? - if not I sincerely
apologize and also direct you to my lead
counsel at Dickman, Dickman and F-You,
Merv was Show Biz's 1st true Billionaire. He invented 'JEOPARDY!' & 'WHEEL OF FORTUNE." I appeared on his show 4 x's & got to know him well (pictured here with my mega-agent Nina Blanchard) & visited him numerous times at his 50 acre Carmel Valley "getaway" and in L.A.
I met his sister Barbara, son Tony, & Merv made me a show biz offer I couldn't confuse. I turned it down.
Years later I wrote my 1st FULL-LENGTH PLAY based on our friendship:
"Do You, Or Don't You"
Me And Merv:
To those of you too young to remember, The Merv Griffin Show ran on network television five days a week for 21 years, ending in the latter part of the last century. A powerhouse in terms of network ratings, his show pulled in an average of 20 million viewers - daily. Compare that to the average million or so daily viewers who watch the three late-nite comedians and one might understand the power that Merv Griffin held.
He invented Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune (for starters). Merv wrote the 30 second Final Jeopardy Tune which is heard on every show. He said it took him about “a minute” to write and according to the New York Times that minute’s work alone has garnered him over seventy-five million dollars.
I was on his show four times during the years 1981-1982. The first three times I appeared as a model parading by, wearing some designer's clothes. I didn’t speak. The last time, in October of ’82, I was a guest on the show and actually got to talk – for about ten minutes! (you can click on it above).
Merv was famous for his “Theme Shows,” and on my final appearance the topic was “Models.” I was selected to be on the show by Merv himself, or so he told me. His idea was to take six of the (supposedly) most famous and successful and up and coming models in the world at that time (all from the prestigious Nina Blanchard Agency), give them $25 each and have them buy an outfit that they would then wear on the show.
Silly – yes. But Merv was a man who loved what he did and made sure that what he did was fun.
On that show I was the last of six models to come on wearing a $25 outfit. I just sat there and chatted with Merv and Nina. At the end of the show, I was urged to give the viewing my best “look.” When Merv asked me what work I hoped to get from this ‘look,’ I said: “Any.”
As it turned out my British mother was one of his many millions of fans. We would sit together during my Junior High School years after I came home from school, have tea, and watch him. I knew all of his guests. And, by coincidence, we lived near him (or at least one of his homes in Carmel Valley, California).
I mentioned this fact to him during the commercial break and he said: “You simply must come visit us.”
And I did – on numerous occasions. I met his son Tony, his sister Barbara, and was treated to the time of my life. I got to know the man fairly well. He seemed to have no secrets with me.
Once Merv told me the mantra he had been given by the Maharishi. His son became upset at his father telling him “You shouldn’t tell anyone that!” He told me that Eva Gabor was the “perfect companion,” Richard Nixon was “a nice man,” and that Clint Eastwood “meditates for 45 minutes” before every scene he shoots.
He was ferociously guarded about his private life. I’ve written a play about the many hours I spent around Merv Griffin entitled “Do You Or Don't You.”
After that show, everywhere I went people knew who I was: Airports, restaurants, gas stations. It was pretty cool. It turns out I had a month of fame, not just 15 minutes.
The downside to all this was minimal: There were a few people who felt they had to talk to me after seeing me on television that I didn’t want to talk to, but mostly, it was all good. Perhaps my biggest regret is that I never appeared on his show again nor could I take him up on his many offers to me.
There’s much more to my relationship with Merv Griffin than I can put here but, all in all, I have to say that this man’s genius was his common touch. Merv Griffin in private was, for the most part, about as nice and charming as a human could be. He was expert at what I call The Art of The Greeting – he made you feel special, relaxed, and welcome. He was so direct and disarming that one could easily assume that he was just another guy.
But when someone creates a billion dollar empire and is proclaimed, by Forbes Magazine to be “the richest Hollywood performer in history,” well – there’s nothing ordinary about that.
"...that's MY parkin' space, asshole..."
I appear about three minutes into the attached clip and, well ....let's just say maybe I shouldn't have gotten outta the car...
Made in Israel and taken to the Cannes Film Festival in France for consideration, this would-have-been star-studded movie became yet another victim of the World Financial Collapse of 2008 ...it wasn't the career maker I thought it might be but hey, I was still pretty good...
When another actor's job is to slice your head off - on camera - one can only hope for the best.
...down and soon to be out...
JOAN COLLINS WAS INARGUABLY THE MOST FAMOUS TV ACTRESS OF HER ERA.
LARRY HAGMAN (AS "JR") WAS UNDOUBTEDLY THE MOST FAMOUS TELEVISION ACTOR OF HIS TIME.
I WORKED INTIMATELY WITH BOTH OF THEM AND AM NOT ASHAMED TO ADMIT THAT THEY EACH SCARED THE BEGEEZERS OUTTTA LITTLE OLD INEXPERIENCED ME.
She actually stepped on my foot when she stood up
Hexum later accidentally killed himself on another TV set when he shot himself with a blank - he would have been the biggest thing since sliced cheese had he lived ...nice, nice guy...
Didn't get much of a release but I have to say the Director and Writer (and cast & crew in general) were just about the nicest group of people I've ever worked with (that's over 100 different crews).
We filmed in a mansion up in the Hollywood Hills ...had a lotta fun..
That's Lynda Wiesmeier in the Movie Poster posing in the Champagne Glass. I worked with her on numerous occasions (at least three different jobs), and once drove her around a set on a small scooter (I also let her sit up front and drive, which was the titillation of a lifetime).
Lynda was a spectacularly beautiful woman and a really nice person. Was sorry to learn while researching this site that she has passed away.
Check out the Poster - my name is next to that of Harry Rheems, the male lead of"Deep Throat" who gave Linda Lovelace what she dreamed for (a really huge one). In retrospect,.being desperate to get onto a film AND having a shitty Hollywood Agent can land you in all sorts of trouble. I had no idea who he was until maybe a year later.
In this scene I had to threaten the actor on the left ..for that he hated my guts for the next 15 years...
John Bloom (a/k/a Joe Bob Briggs) and I were in the same acting class (the late/great Fred Kareman's) in New York City for several years.
I'll admit, this is the WORST acting I ever did. Didn't, at the time, know how to do very broad comedy ...but I learned, years later...
JB Briggs 5th Anniversary in Las Vegas show
Wayne plays and sings us a tune...
..and of course the star of the show, John Bloom ...I gotta say I thought I was a pretty serious actor at this point but Miles knew his stuff ...and I learned from him
Corny, but of its time...
There was actually a 50 foot high billboard of me in my Sergio Valente Jeans (think: "Giant Ass") put up in Times Square, NYC.
I PERFORMED IN SCORES OF COMMERCIALS, TELEVISION SHOWS, PROMOTIONAL VIDEOS ETC., and have no idea where they are today...
The "director" of this little ditty knew he was going to have to wrestle with me at the end of the video and kept telling me how he was going to "rough me up" etc.
Despite displaying perhaps the WORST British accent on video it nonetheless felt good to manhandle him at the end of the piece.