Above is an extraordinary hour of entertainment via Merv Griffin's show in 1978. In one hour you get Buddy Rich and his big band, Mel Torme and his voice, Redd Foxx and his attempt at singing and a pile of Henny Youngman one-liners and stories--along with conversations between all of them.  How Merv could, on a nightly basis, produce a show this packed with legends and headliners is a testement to how comfortable he made the guests feel, how smooth a producer he was and how warm the environment of his show was. As you can see from the previous few days posts, my Merv-a-Thon is bringing back warm and fuzzy memories and renewed respect for this often parodied and unfairly ignored talk-show great. Today Merv is largely known for the wealth he amassed due to the game shows he produced/owned as well as for his lavish, silly later years as a bon vivant Hotelier and for being an old-fashioned, resolutely closeted gay man. (He's also known for 'Merv Griffin Way', that nice little not-quite-a-real-street back alley that connects Santa Monica Blvd. to Wilshire Blvd. passing the Beverly Hilton Hotel--which of course Merv owned).

As for the show Buddy is surly and plays an unfortunate big band arrangement of 'Birdland' by Weather Report, Mel has funny hair and does a fine 'Bluesette', Redd tries to deliver 'Fine Brown Frame' and really shouldn't have bothered and Henny is on a mite too long for everyone's comfort. It's wonderful.

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