Was Merv Griffin An "Openly Closeted" Homosexual?
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
This post, written by Pam Spaulding, originally appeared on Pandagon
Merv Griffin, the entertainment mogul who passed away the other day at 82, has been rightfully lionized for his role in Hollywood history. The producer of "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune" turned those game shows into a multimillion-dollar empire, and did equally well as a hotelier/casino mogul.
What you didn't see in the MSM obits (aside from the one in the New York Times) was a mention of Griffin's openly closeted life.
In a Rolling Stone piece about Griffin in 2006, it notes that Merv was sued twice in 1991, the first a "palimony" lawsuit by a former employee, the second a charge from "Dance Fever" host Deney Terrio that the impresario made a pass at him then fired him for not complying. Both suits were tossed out. However:
Merv does not refute the underlying implication in both cases: that he is gay. Nor does he admit to it. Instead, he mentions the high-profile relationship that he began with actress Eva Gabor at the time of his legal troubles. They were photographed everywhere: Atlantic City, La Quinta, Hollywood premieres. Merv says that they discussed marriage, and he parries any direct questions about his sexual orientation. ''You're asking an eighty-year-old man about his sexuality right now!'' he cries. ''Get a life!''
You may ask, how is this kind of gossip journalism? Those in the field of celeb journo would probably disagree with you that it isn't journalism. The field may be tawdry and invasive (look at how they hound poor Lindsay Lohan), but this kind of reporting is big bucks. Coverage of openly-closeted gay celebrities versus het ones is still a struggle for the MSM. There have been quite a few articles written about the straight-washing of gay public figures in bios and obits, even ones where the figure was socially out, out within their industry and it's known in the media.
The MSM managed to "straight-wash" Luther Vandross with nary a mention of his homosexuality back in 2005. As I said back then, the real problem is that the news media, which has no problem recounting the endless het romances of stars (real or alleged). The "legitimate" press can be ridiculously squeamish about reporting basic facts about gay public figures (such as the partner left behind).
In Vandross's situation (as well as in the posthumous media de-gaying cases of Susan Sontag and Ismail Merchant), the coverage bent over backwards, straining any sense of credibility, to avoid any fact-finding about that might reveal he was gay, even if Vandross was openly gay in his social circles -- but not to his fan base.