Skip to main content /transcript


Merv Griffin Returns to His Musical Roots

Aired April 6, 2001 - 21:00   ET



MERV GRIFFIN, ENTERTAINER (singing): I know it's raining. But I'm not complaining. This kind of weather keeps on...


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, the one, the only, Merv Griffin. From boy singer to major mogul with a whole lot to talk about in between, too. We'll take your calls and sing a few tunes, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

It's always a great pleasure to welcome Merv Griffin to LARRY KING LIVE. He always had spark for great stories and a unique ensemble tonight, yellow on yellow on gold. What are you saying?

GRIFFIN: Yes, well, I saw -- Regis did that.

KING: Yes, I know. He invented it.

GRIFFIN: I call him the "outRegis." You like that one?

KING: Yes.

GRIFFIN: Like I call this the no pants network.

KING: That's right this is...

GRIFFIN: There is no -- if you are a performer on CNN, there's no reason to have anything below your waist.

KING: We are both wearing our undershorts. It's a riot.

GRIFFIN: If you ever stood up, there's nothing beyond your waist, right?

KING: All right, now, first and foremost, you're back in the -- you're recording again?


Because later we will sing on this show, but tell me first how this came about. GRIFFIN: A strange story. Wonderful lady in this town named Marge Everett used to own Hollywood Park, and before that, Barlington (ph) in Chicago.


Yes, great sports lady, always had wonderful parties at their house, Nancy Reagan would come, the president would come, Ronnie Reagan, and Johnny Mathis would be there, David Foster, Joe Stafford.

KING: Jimmy Stewart would sing.

GRIFFIN: Jimmy Stewart would -- he...

(singing): always sings a raggedy music tune with (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

(normal voice): So I would end up playing the piano for everybody. A couple of times, "Come on, Merv, sing, sing, sing." So I would sing although, I did -- stopped all that 25 years ago.

KING: But you were a big band singer.

GRIFFIN: Well, I had fun, yes. I liked to sing with a band.


GRIFFIN: And I'd sing once in while on the show with Jack Shelton.

However, so one night, David Foster said, "I want you to come out to my house." He has this whole recording studio, unbelievable, in Malibu. And I said, "I would love to, but why?" And he said, "I want you to record." Now I said, "Please. That's -- no, no, no. No way. I don't want to do that anymore."

And he said -- six months it kept up. Finally he picked some songs and stuff, he said: "All right. I have got some soundtracks that have huge orchestras, 80-piece orchestras. Just come out and sing." I said, "Nah, nah."

Finally Marge convinced me. She said, "Go out there and sing. What are you afraid of?" So I said, "All right." And I went out there and he put me in a room and I was looking at a lawn, you know.

And he said, "All right, sing 'The Nearness of You.' Sing it six times, and don't come out of the room."

KING: With no music behind it? Just singing?

GRIFFIN: No, I said, "Where is the needle drop?" you know, for the 78 and then (UNINTELLIGIBLE) sucked up through the thing.

KING: Or a 45?

GRIFFIN: Forty-five? I don't know if I ever did any. Anyway so, I went out there and I sang six times and I came out and its a whole roomful of people like this. And I said see: "I told you. It stinks. It stinks, stinks, stinks. I can't sing anymore. I'm too old to sing." David Foster looked at me in his sweet manner, and said, "Shut up and sit down."

So I did, and they played it and I said, "OK, I'll record." And then I did.

KING: You didn't know could you sing as well as you sung?

GRIFFIN: Well, I didn't know about the new recording techniques. They are quite different. Did you know that nowadays you can sing -- this is why you better get in a studio because I'm going to book you in the Coconut Club before I leave here tonight -- anyway, you can miss a note, like Streisand will miss a note, and she goes in and hits one note and they punch it in.

You can punch in notes all over place. You can say, "Hey, I didn't like that word, that note," and you go back and sing it and...

KING: That is not real.

GRIFFIN: No. It's not. Not like we used to have to do, when I did...


KING: Unless you had a good band behind you, right?

GRIFFIN: Yes. I had to sing the whole thing, if I made mistake you stopped. But nowadays you don't do anything.

KING: And this whole band that's behind you. You didn't know them, right? You didn't...

GRIFFIN: I never saw them -- no, no, no. You just go in and you sing.

KING: So, this CD titled, "It's Like a Dream," is now out?

GRIFFIN: Well, I went to the recording sessions. I want to all the musicians to make sure that they had the right tempos, for all the kinds of stuff -- Morton Lindsey's the conductor, who was just in the -- he was with with me all those years on the show, but he was also with Judy Garland, and their DVD record was just number one. They have redone all of Judy's stuff. And then his son, who also publishes all of Eminem's stuff, was the producer. So Eminem and me are out on the market.

KING: And where do you get this? Stores have it -- anywhere?

GRIFFIN: I suppose. Yes, stores.


GRIFFIN: Internet. KING: By the way, what do you think of Eminem?

GRIFFIN: Well, I mean, I get a kick out of all that stuff, but I just think...

KING: Not offensive to you?

GRIFFIN: Oh, yes. His message is very offensive, but everybody's message, when they start, is offensive -- I was offensive with "Coconuts."

KING: Is he a talent?

GRIFFIN: I don't know. I don't know.

KING: Can't judge him?

GRIFFIN: I've never seen him in person, no, no, no. To me, a talent is somebody who can, other than a record singer in studio, you know, like a Streisand, who is probably the world's greatest singer...

KING: She entertains.

GRIFFIN: And then get up and can entertain you, yes.

KING: What does it feel like to be back on the board, so to speak?

GRIFFIN: Well, I'm not back on the board.

KING: I mean, you are an entrepreneur, hotel owner, magnate.

GRIFFIN: I did it for myself. I just, you know, my whole life when I look back, has been challenging myself. And I challenged myself to go into a studio, and I had this -- at times there was a 40 piece orchestra, at times there was an eight piece orchestra. Another time there was a 30 piece orchestra, and you know, that's not cheap.

KING: You sang a lot, you did a movie.

GRIFFIN: Yes. Oh, yes. Yes.

KING: Did you kiss Katherine Grayson.

GRIFFIN: I did. First, unlike your page with Shawn in "Time" magazine, mine was the first open-mouthed kiss on the movies.

KING: Oh, you saw that, huh?

GRIFFIN: Yes, the world saw it.

I'm very proud of you, Larry.

KING: Lucky I could still walk.

GRIFFIN: At least your lips didn't get stuck together -- now. KING: How many movies did you make.

GRIFFIN: Well, that was the one big serious one Katherine Grayson and they had the premier at the Pantages. Louella was there, Hedda Hopper, everybody in the business came, and I saw myself, for the first time, I never went to the rushes, and I started sliding the seat, by the time, you know, I was under the seat on the floor.

Now I came out in the lobby after, and there was Hedda, and Louella, "Oh, darling you're going to be the biggest star in the world," and they're kissing me and hugging me and I went,"Whoo!" Went home, went to bed, and thought, "I am the biggest star." Nobody ever called again.

KING: Our guest is Merv Griffin, entertainer, businessman, now got an album out, it's "Like a Dream" and he wrote that song. And later we'll get back to music because we are going to have a piano here. Merv is going to play and sing.

GRIFFIN: You didn't tell me about that part.

KING: Oh, got a little surprise for...

GRIFFIN: There's a charge for this.

KING: We'll -- yes, we know -- We'll be -- there always is with Merv.

GRIFFIN: You'll play the Coconut Club.

KING: We'll be right back with Merv Griffin. Don't go away.


GRIFFIN: Let's live.




GRIFFIN: What movie stars you see out here?


GRIFFIN: Who do you want to see?

MARTIN: Who do I want to see?

GRIFFIN: Am I asking the same question that he says?


KING: There's a lot to talk about every time Merv is here. Now he brought a tape with him: Ricky Martin at age 12. GRIFFIN: Oh, yes.

KING: Tell me the story.

GRIFFIN: Well, he was with Menudo, and so we used to book on anything that was new, you know, and so Menudo came on the show. And there were these five kids from -- well, I guess Puerto Rico. And they sang, so the natural thing of an emcee is to pick the cutest kid. Like when the Jackson Five were on my show you went right for Michael.

He was this big, and he could talk and it was funny. You don't go for the older ones, and this little kid was at end, and I had watched him, and his legs dance, they were shooting out all over the place, and stuff, and he had the face of an angel. And I went over to Ricky Martin and I said, "Hi." And I said, "Do you speak English?"

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "The Merv Griffin Show")

GRIFFIN: Hablo englais?



GRIFFIN: He said yes. Well, he didn't speak any English, so I said...

KING: Has this tape ever been shown?

GRIFFIN: Never. Well, it was shown years ago.

KING: Yes, I know, but...

GRIFFIN: But not since he was famous. And he has got it now, and he loves it. He's going to put into it his act. He's going to show, before he comes on, all kinds of tapes. It is -- the cutest thing I think he says is, I said to him, "Have you seen any movie stars?" "Jess." I said, "Who have you seen?" He said, "I don't know."

Don't I look like hot air balloon?

KING: Do you ever miss -- when you -- why did you gain so much weight? No, really, I've never asked you that. Why?

GRIFFIN: Well, 100 years from now, what are they going to say? Was Merv fat or thin? They're going to say he was Merv.

KING: Why did you kind of -- vernacular would be, let yourself go.

GRIFFIN: You want me to tell you the truth?

KING: Yeah, really.

GRIFFIN: I have not let myself go. I am very responsible in what I -- I eat a lot of what I eat, but I quit smoking three times in a year, and year-and-a-half. And every time I quit...

KING: Blew up.

GRIFFIN: Twenty, 30 pounds. So this is a result of quitting three times.

KING: And it's impossible to take it off?

GRIFFIN: At my age, 38? That's my neck size, 38. No. At 75, it is impossible.

KING: You were a trim guy. I mean, you were -- you were not trim, you were slim.

GRIFFIN: Well, you saw that tape.

KING: Yeah, you were slim.

GRIFFIN: My! Tall, and tan, young, lovely.

KING: So, it doesn't bother you, though?


KING: As long as it doesn't bother you.

GRIFFIN: No. How could it possibly...

KING: Well, you just, said I'm a balloon.

GRIFFIN: You don't think that when I go out on the street, people go: "Fatty, fatty, two-by-four, can't get through the kitchen door?" We did that in high school.

KING: Pillsbury Doughboy.

GRIFFIN: That's right.

KING: The fact that you can -- and by the way, another thing, before we touch other bases, your health. How is the prostate cancer?

GRIFFIN: Well, the prostate is hanging around -- PSA around seven. Now, Skip Holden, who was my doctor, and you must agree that...

KING: My urologist.

GRIFFIN: Greatest!

KING: I luckily don't have...

GRIFFIN: In prostate in America. I saw him this last week, and I said -- he said: "It's just hanging around there, not doing anything, and that's OK number at your age. And you guys that took the radiation, it bounces around a little bit, but I didn't see anything." He said, call me in three months, so I went... KING: He is a great doctor. My check-ups are fine, thank God. But I worry about you.


KING: Because there was a time we were all worried about you.

GRIFFIN: Oh, I was...

KING: Come on! Did you ever close -- was it ever a fear that Merv may buy it?


KING: No? It was never like, this cancer has spread...

GRIFFIN: You mean, buy the clinic?

KING: No, buy the bullet.

GRIFFIN: Oh, bite the bullet.

KING: With you, it could be buy the...

GRIFFIN: I thought I snuck that by.

KING: You could you buy the clinic.

GRIFFIN: Yeah. I was thinking of that, because everybody I know is sick, or they have some awful disease. Why not buy a clinic, and all your friends be together?

KING: That's the next thing. What are going to, give a hotel to a hospital? Why don't you a turn a hotel into a hospital.

GRIFFIN: No, I gave my fabulous dude ranch to child help.

KING: You did? You gave that away?

GRIFFIN: Yeah, for abused children. And it's the most healing place I have ever been to. I mean, I love that resort. And so, Child Help is going to go in there, and Sarah and Yvonne who run it, the most incredible two women in the world, and...

KING: This was a donation you made? You gave the property...

GRIFFIN: Already a little boy up there, has not spoken -- he was abused so badly, and he's never said anything to anybody. And they said, let's try it, because I left them 100-something horse, 150 horses -- and I said -- they said -- let's try giving him a horse, and they gave him a horse. He is talking.

KING: We'll be right back with Merv Griffin, special guy -- an album out! He won't go away, will he? Don't go away.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GRIFFIN (singing): Will run, will fly, and try to charge the sky and wake up tomorrow and never say goodbye. It's the dream that came true, you and I.



KING: Merv Griffin, one of the pioneers -- the man invented the two most popular games in syndication, "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune." They keep on keeping on. Pat Sajack is going to co-host on my vacation.

GRIFFIN: Oh, very good, co-host it.

KING: No, host it.

GRIFFIN: Oh, he's going to host it.

KING: Host it, yeah. Great guy.

GRIFFIN: I thought you said co-host it.

KING: You found him.

GRIFFIN: I did. I did. He was a weatherman on a local station. Yes.

KING: What do you make of "Millionaire" and the rest -- and the new...

GRIFFIN: Oh, I think they are good, they're fun. And I love Regis.

KING: Are you a fan of the show? Do you like...

GRIFFIN: Yeah, I tune in whenever I sit down and watch television.

KING: What makes a good quiz show?

GRIFFIN: It seems to be on all the time.

What makes a good quiz show? That you can play at home. That is the key to the whole thing. That at home -- I do it with -- he keeps joking about "Jeopardy," he did it the other night. Oh, you were on "Jeopardy?" Oh, you won 20,000? You got 300,000 here. He will pay for that.

KING: You wrote the "Jeopardy" song.


KING: You get paid every time it plays?

GRIFFIN: Wait, I got to do 30 seconds. Here comes the money KING: Do you get paid every time that plays?

GRIFFIN: Every time. That...

KING: Even though you sold the show?

GRIFFIN: That little song has made a fortune. I couldn't even tell you how many millions and millions and millions of dollars.

KING: What do you make of reality TV?

GRIFFIN: Larry, this is reality TV, you and me talking. What do you mean reality TV? "Survivor?"

KING: Yeah, that's what I mean.

GRIFFIN: That is not reality. Is it?

KING: Why is it so popular? Now, you are a good judge of why the public likes things.

GRIFFIN: I don't know. I suppose it is maybe their desire to be out there and young again, and doing all those things, you know.

KING: You don't think it's the greed and the elimination, and they cut off people every week? You are gone?

GRIFFIN: Oh yeah, well, that is cruel.

KING: And we're going for a $1 million.

GRIFFIN: No, I don't -- although I do hear a lot of interviews where people say, no, I think tonight they are going cut off somebody. I don't watch it.

KING: You don't want it?

GRIFFIN: No, so I really don't know an awful lot of what we're talking about. I have seen bits and pieces of it, usually when they play it on, you know, "Bryant Gumbel" or something.

KING: When did you know you were a businessman?

GRIFFIN: When I used to go door-to-door and sell magazines.

KING: When you were a kid?

GRIFFIN: I had my little white bag on the side there.

KING: So, you were a businessman -- you knew it when you were singing with a band? You...

GRIFFIN: Oh, no, way before that. When I was about 4 years old, I used to sell magazines.

KING: But what I mean, you sing with the band, and say, I wonder what the house is taking in tonight?

GRIFFIN: Oh, no, no, no, I never cared about that. It wasn't my -- Freddy Martin got that money.

KING: But you always knew you had the talent to make money away from singing?

GRIFFIN: Well, I never -- I never invested myself in show business. I invested in things other than show business. I took my money, and instead of putting it in the bank, I invested in buying something over here.

KING: But your money multiplied. The money you made in show business doesn't equal the money you've made as a businessman, right?

GRIFFIN: Nobody's money equals the value of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy." They both individually have earned already now billions of dollars, and also the same for every station they are on, because that station gets all the revenues.

KING: But what's it like for you? You knew you had this ability?

GRIFFIN: Oh, no, no, no.

KING: That's what I asked you. When did you know? Most entertainers are not businessman.

GRIFFIN: It was a hobby, and I was just very good at spotting people. And I think that comes from 23 years of doing that show. You get a third eye.

KING: Is it the same thing as buying a hotel? Is it the same instinct?

GRIFFIN: Oh, yeah. I would see a hotel and know that I wanted that, and what I could do with it

KING: Really?

GRIFFIN: Yeah, yeah. I never bought anything that I didn't really want. And that includes, you know, resorts in Atlantic City and Paradise Island and the battle with Donald.

KING: And the hotel here, that Hilton.

GRIFFIN: The Hilton.

KING: What does a hotel have to have?

GRIFFIN: It's got to have a feeling of action, where people can come and they can be entertained. Shreger (ph) has that idea. I read an article by him recently. And it should be entertaining, it shouldn't just be a place to sleep.

KING: But do you know that before you buy it? I mean, can you see...

GRIFFIN: Well, I know what it can become. I knew when I bought the Beverly Hilton, it needed millions and millions of dollars of work, that it was just another cookie-cutter Hilton hotel to me. And I went in there, and re-did the whole entrance to the place, and then the first thing I did, so that the public would see it first, was the ballroom. Now, you have emceed, you were there the other night...

KING: Many times.

GRIFFIN: You emceed the big night.

KING: For you.

GRIFFIN: Yep, for me. And, can I tell that story? The murder?

KING: Oh, we'll get to that. Yeah, this is a good story.

GRIFFIN: OK, I'll tell you later.

KING: We'll take a break and we'll come back with Merv's murder story. You won't believe this.

GRIFFIN: Heidi Fleiss was arrested there, you know that? Well, anyway, go ahead.

KING: Robert Downey gets arrested in one of your places?

GRIFFIN: Well, he's in my other hotel. Yeah, I get...

KING: What are you? Are you a magnet?

GRIFFIN: No, publicity crazy.


KING: We'll be right back with Merv after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put the top on.

GRIFFIN: And you blow, OK?


GRIFFIN: Go, blow hard.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a pain in the ass, Mr. Griffin.



GRIFFIN: During the commercial, he said I could punch him out easy, that's what he told me. I mean, I don't want to start trouble.

LAWRENCE TUREAUD, ACTOR: Well, I know. People don't always talk what they going to want to do to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never said, Mr. T.

TUREAUD: I didn't say you did.

GRIFFIN: Look how quiet you've gotten.

TUREAUD: I didn't say you did. You know, I'm (UNINTELLIGIBLE).




KING: We're back with Merv Griffin. In a little while, Merv sings -- and he sings in his new album "It's Like a Dream."

OK, the murder home story.

GRIFFIN: Well, after Julann and I were married and Tony came into our lives, was born, we lived in New York and we thought we'd get place out of town. We knew of a place in New Jersey, when we'd visit friends, we'd pass it and go, oh, look that place. So we bought this ranch.

We knew that 160 years before we owned it, there had been a very famous murder in New Jersey there. A local minister poisoned his wife from the apple orchard, put arsenic in the apples. And they exhumed the body after she died because he started dating local ladies too soon. "The Murder of Tetertown (ph)," it was called. I read the book.

KING: So you own that murder place?

GRIFFIN: Yeah, that murder place. Then we moved to California. I came out first because Tony had to get into school by September, and I moved the showed to CBS out here. And, so I went and looked at places. And I looked at this house, and I rented it from this man who was also a tennis aficionado. It was a beautiful home in Beverly Hills. Beautiful! Tennis court, had two swimming pools, the guest house had a swimming pool -- nice.

So we lived in there, and one night we give a party for Michael Caine, And in came Jim Bacon, who -- the great columnist. Yeah, and, he came up, he said, "Oh, I haven't been in the house here since the murder."

I said, "What murder?"

And he said, "You've got to be kidding. This is where Lana Turner's daughter did the job on Stompanato."

I said, "Oh, you've got -- not in this house."

And he said, "Don't the buses come by?"

I said, "Well, they were here the first day I moved in, I thought, how did they find me so fast?" You know?


And it was the house. Sure enough.

KING: Lana Turner's daughter murdered her lover.

GRIFFIN: I said: "Do not tell my wife. Do not tell my child that, my God." So, after a few days I slipped it, talking to Julann, said -- she went, "Oh, God." And Jim told me it happened right there on the stairs, the spot, everything.

KING: Did you sell it?

GRIFFIN: No, I was leasing it.

KING: Did you get out?

GRIFFIN: We got out. We got out, and we moved to what had been the Firestone mansion, up in back of the Beverly Hills. Unbelievable estate. I rented it from Bill Lear -- Lear jet. So we move, and we're having a wonderful time. Glorious property. Oh, what fun! And one day, this friend of mine who had married into the Firestone family came to have dinner with us from New York. And he walked in, he said, "Oh, I haven't been here since the murder."

I said, "What murder? What?"


He said, "Well, this guy tried to, you know, kidnap Uncle Lenny and they shot him right here in the reception hall."

I said, "I'm out of here!"


So we left there, and then Julann and I bought a house up in Bel- Air, up on the very top. Lovely, lovely house, knew the lady that owned it.

KING: Great view of the city.

GRIFFIN: Beautiful view of the city. It was great fun, and everything -- there had been no murder in it, then we got a divorce.


Murder was holding the marriage together. KING: That's a great story.

GRIFFIN: It's a true story.

KING: Is it spooky to be in a house where a murder was committed? Once you learn it, does it change your whole feeling about the house?

GRIFFIN: You know, that's a very good question. I never thought of that. No, I just played the piano, went merrily on my way. No, I mean, I talk to ghosts once in a while.

KING: I would think you'd say, "Whoo."


KING: Every time you walk by those stairs?

GRIFFIN: No. I had to go up them to go to bed.

KING: But still, you got out.

GRIFFIN: But there was an earthquake one night. Somebody very little must have lived in the house, because all the -- I thought Mickey Rooney had been in there. All the door knobs were down here.


And the night of big earthquake, 5:00 in the morning, when the beds started going, Julann went, "What is that? What is that? What is that?" Being an Easterner, she didn't know. The doors opened up everywhere, all over the room. Doors to little things, cabinets and everything.

KING: We just did a show on this. Do you believe in ghosts?

GRIFFIN: Do I believe in ghosts?

KING: Do you believe in haunted things?

GRIFFIN: Well, you see, I have not met one, I have not run into one. So -- but I don't disbelieve. I believe in the possibility of everything.

Remember, I'm a Catholic. You heard of miracles?

KING: But a good interviewer also has to be open to possibility.

GRIFFIN: Oh, absolutely.

KING: If you dismiss everything, you're warped in your own world, and hear yourself talking, right?


KING: So you've got to have that, kind of... GRIFFIN: I'm think today I'm going to do "Ghost of a Chance." Remember that song?

(singing): But I don't have a ghost of a chance.

KING (singing): Don't stand a ghost of a chance.

GRIFFIN: You're right. It's "I don't stand."

KING: I can't sing.

GRIFFIN: Yes, you can.

KING: No, I can't.

GRIFFIN: You're going to play the Coconut Grove.

KING: Want me to play?

GRIFFIN: And your mother-in-law sings, too. And she wants her young man to sing.

KING: Yeah, but she should sing. She's terrific.

GRIFFIN: Well, bring her on. Bring her with you. Introduce people.

KING: I'll introduce her.

GRIFFIN: And you sing, you play tapes from your show, you play me. And I own the club.

KING: This is a successful club. As part of the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

GRIFFIN: It is. You were there opening night.

KING: Yeah, I sure was. What a night that was, wow. Our guest is Merv Griffin, the album is out. It's called "It's Like a Dream." Some more things to talk about, and then we go on to the piano. Don't go away.


GRIFFIN (singing): Come show me your kindness,

In your our arms, I know I'll find this,

Woman don't you know with you I'm born again.

Flying safe with you, I'm born again.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: We're back with my friend, and one of the -- truly gem of a guys, Merv Griffin. What do you make of the rise of the other night, Suzanne Somers was here.

GRIFFIN: I saw it. My mouth dropped. I had known about it last year.

KING: Oh, you did?


KING: You were one of few?

GRIFFIN: Because they stayed at my house in Ireland. They stayed in St. Clarence. And I knew about it at that time. It just -- the paper today, or today is Friday, no, it was last week. No, about four days ago. There was a big article, again, about your show, and her revelation about doing homeopathic things. And there is a worry in the community about using that. Now she is clean. I hope -- did you understand that, when she told you?

KING: Well, she's...

GRIFFIN: She's without cancer at this moment.

KING: Right. She's without cancers.

GRIFFIN: But she's waiting the five years.

KING: Correct.

GRIFFIN: So she's taking a homeopathic thing.

KING: What do you think of that?

GRIFFIN: I don't know. It's dangerous, only because I know of a couple of ladies that were sitting waiting for chemotherapy, and a friend of mine's sister was sitting next to them, and they were on that homeopathic, and it's since spread everywhere. So -- but that's hardly...

KING: You've been a victim of it.


KING: What do you make of Tabloid land?

GRIFFIN: Oh, I call Steve Coz right away. I called Steve Coz, because I knew how they would handle it.

KING: At the "Inquirer."

GRIFFIN: Yeah. He's a wonderful journalist. Steve Coz is a tough guy. I called him and I said, "Steve, I don't usually do this, but I got a story for you."

He went, "Whoo!" And he said, "What is it?" and I told him.

And he said, "Will you give the story to my reporter?"

And I said, "Absolutely."

KING: You gave the Suzanne Somers...

GRIFFIN: No, not the -- I gave my story.

KING: Oh, your story.


Because I knew that they would run crazy with dying and doing this and all that kind of stuff. And I gave it to him, and within 24 hours all the what you call "legitimate press," journalism, had picked it up from "Inquirer," where they get their stories.

KING: So they do break good stories.


KING: But what about some of the stuff they deal with?

GRIFFIN: I don't -- it's up to their reporter, I mean, I'm not -- I don't read that every week. But some of it is a little outrageous, but Steve is an honorable man, and he will call and make it right, if it's wrong.

KING: Do you respect the "Inquirer," then?

GRIFFIN: I respect the journalistic abilities of Steve Coz, yeah.

KING: That's surprising. I thought you would rap them apart. I thought you'd be a critic because, hey, you've been rapped.

GRIFFIN: Yeah, terrible. But I don't care. Let them rap. Only I know what's right and what's wrong.

KING: So you can let that brush right off you?

GRIFFIN: Yeah, what the heck? Yeah.

KING: What's it like to be able to buy anything you see? I mean, most people would be looking at you now saying, "Here's a guy...

GRIFFIN: But, Larry, you really don't think like that.

KING: You don't think?

GRIFFIN: Except I do like this studio a lot.


KING: No, come on. What's it like? GRIFFIN: You don't think of stuff like that, my God. Why would you do that? That would be ridiculous. I think it's is -- it is how you are born, how you came into the business, and how you earned your money. If you had to struggle for it, you know the value and the responsibility of money. I do -- I have lots of charities. And I do give them a great deal of money, and I like that.

KING: That's good to do.

GRIFFIN: Because they are charities that interest me.

KING: Makes you feel good.

GRIFFIN: Yeah. I like charities where there isn't a big operating expense. I always ask them, send me your sheet. Let me look at what you're doing, stuff. If they pay too much to all the employees in the place, I don't want to do that.

KING: You want to go to the person.

GRIFFIN: I want to go right to...

KING: Are you tough businessman.

GRIFFIN: Am I tough?

KING: Yeah.

GRIFFIN: I'm a very disarming businessman. I think -- well, I think it happened when I first met Donald Trump. The first time they arranged for the meeting, and my side said, "Merv, you can't go to his office."

I said, "Well, I'm not going to buy his furniture, for God's sake." I said, "I'll go to his office. I don't care where we meet." So I went in there, and he told me how glad he was to meet -- I had to go through a whole army of secretaries who all went...

So, finally, he took me to the window and he said, "There it is."

And I looked down on the Plaza hotel, and I said, "Ooh! That's the great lady. That's the queen of New York City."

He said, "That's right."

I said, "How many rooms does that have?"

He said, "Oh, you know, 6-700."

I said, "Oh, just enough to house the lawyers that it is going to take you to fight me in this thing."

He said, "You are an SOB."

I said, "Oh, yeah, let's deal." So we sat down, was done in five minutes, and that was it. KING: Merv Griffin!



GRIFFIN: I know who I am.

KING: Get excited. Yeah, that's right. You do you know you are.

OK. We're going to transport Merv -- I like that line -- over to...

GRIFFIN: Bring in the truck.


KING: We're going to have some music on this Friday night.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm really going to kill him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you spit that out of your mouth?




GRIFFIN (singing): We'll run, we'll fly, we'll try to touch the sky. We're going to wake up tomorrow, and never say good-bye.


KING: Welcome back to LARRY KING LIVE for this Friday night.

GRIFFIN: This gives it another -- Feel like we're at the Blue Angel.

KING: We're with Merv Griffin at the piano. This is Merv's new album, "It's like a dream." You wrote this song, huh?

GRIFFIN: I did, words and music -- how does it go?

KING: You forgot your own song.

GRIFFIN (singing): It's like a dream, I can't believe I'm here with you, What do I say? Where do I look? What do I do?

(normal voice): So, I -- very nice.

KING: Very nice. And you do a lot of standards in this?

GRIFFIN: Oh, yeah.

KING: Put it all together, big band behind you.

GRIFFIN: You know this -- this song, I took my whole show over to England because I loved so it much. Just to sing the song in Nightingale, in the square. In the square.

KING: Begin, I'll sing it with you.

GRIFFIN: You want to hear the story.

KING: Yeah, OK.

GRIFFIN: OK. So I went there and took all my cameras. Very expensive. Not one nightingale. Pigeons.


OK. Well, that's not my key, this is yours, because you have...

KING: I'm not a singer, so you are, you're a terrific band singer...

GRIFFIN (singing): The night we met, there was magic abroad in the air, there were angels dining at the Ritz, Nightingales sang, in Barkley Square...

(normal voice): I may be right.

KING: I may be right.

KING (singing): I may be wrong.

GRIFFIN: Nice. But I'm perfectly willing...

KING (singing): But I'm perfectly willing to swear...

GRIFFIN: That when you came...

KING (singing): And smiled at me, a nightingale sang in Barkley Square.

GRIFFIN: This opens a whole new career for you.

KING (singing): The moon that lingered over London town.

GRIFFIN: Oh, geez, wait a minute! You went too fast.

(singing): The moon that -- what key were you in?

KING (singing): London town square.

GRIFFIN (singing): The moon that lingered over London town...

KING: Got me down.

GRIFFIN (singing): How could we, only two, were so in love, The whole darn world seemed upside down, The streets of town were paved with gold, It was such a romantic affair, That when we kissed, And said good night...

GRIFFIN: What happened?

KING (singing): A nightingale sang in Barkley Square.

GRIFFIN (singing): I know because I was there.

KING: Finish it, Merv.

GRIFFIN (singing): That night in Barkley Square.

(normal voice): All right, now, listen. We got to do this.

KING: What?

GRIFFIN: Merv's big hit, I've been singing it for all girls, here.

KING: What was your big hit?

GRIFFIN (singing): Down at an English fair, one evening I was there, when I heard a showman shouting underneath the fair -- Oh, I have got a lovely bunch of coconuts, there they are standing in a row, big ones, small ones, some as big as your head. You give them a twist, a flick of the wrist, is what the showman said, Oh!

I have got a lovely bunch coconuts, and everybody is going to make me rich. There stands my wife, the idol of my life, singing, roll the ball, the ball a penny a pitch. Everybody! Roll the ball, the ball, a penny a pitch, singing roll the ball, the ball a penny a pitch. Twist in the ball, roll the ball, the ball, singing roll the ball, the ball a penny a pitch!

(normal voice): You know, I used to play for dance groups.

KING: We'll be right back with Merv Griffin on this edition of "LARRY KING LIVE." Don't go away!


KING: Before we play another tune, tell me about Brother Theodore and Jerry Lewis. We'll show a little.

GRIFFIN: Well, every day requests come in for pieces of the show. This was back -- it's black and white, 1960s, taped in New York. Ralph Young and Tony Sandler, myself, and Jerry Lewis, the peak of Jerry Lewis's career. And we booked on Brother Theodore. We booked on people to annoy stars. And this guy was annoying. He was one of our most requested, he was just a weird man from New York. Just watch!

KING: And he and Jerry go at it.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is enough! Out! Get him out! Get him out, or I'll never come back!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... dirty old man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get your hands off me, baby!




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His fly is open!



KING: Now, we're back with Merv Griffin...

GRIFFIN: Did we see it already?

KING: Yeah, well, they played a part of it, but again, we're putting the tape in...

GRIFFIN: I loved it.

KING: Let's go another song from this album, "It Is Like a Dream."

GRIFFIN: What do you want to do?

KING: Let's do -- first one on the...

GRIFFIN (singing): They more I love you.

KING (singing): The more I see you, the more I want you.

GRIFFIN AND KING (singing): Somehow this feeling just grows and grows and grows. With every sigh, I become more mad about you, more lost without you. Hence so it goes. Can you imagine how much I love you? More I see you, as years go by, I know you're the only one for me. Can you only be you in my arms? (UNINTELLIGIBLE) my heart won't try. KING: Silly to say this, but they don't write them like that anymore.

GRIFFIN: No. Got nothing.

KING: Those lyrics...

GRIFFIN: Songs that can affect -- songs that -- I mean, so many of them you can place exactly where were you when you heard it, you know, like, "More I See You," that was Dick Haymes.

KING: I remember a sweet 16 party, maybe one of the first time I ever danced was to Dick Haymes singing...

GRIFFIN: You went to -- they had a sweet 16 for you?


GRIFFIN: Those are for girls, weren't they?

KING (singing): The night I saw you on the village green, I loved you as I loved you.

GRIFFIN: That came out of 1890, what are you talking about?

KING: They sang it at sweet 16 parties, that's the name of the song.


GRIFFIN: Oh, sweet 16. I love you -- I remember that.

KING: Did you have fun doing this?

GRIFFIN: I loved it. I loved it, I loved going in there...

KING: So, might we see...

GRIFFIN: See, I don't like that, you know, stop, you know, tape.

KING: Are you going to sing at your own club now?

GRIFFIN: No. Well, occasionally, I do go in. Michael Andrews and the Coconut Club Orchestra they have there are fantastic, and so is Michael. He is one of the great singers of all time. And I go in, and I sing duets with him, you know.

GRIFFIN (singing): When she gets too hungry...

GRIFFIN AND KING (singing): For dinner at 8:00. She likes the theater, but she never comes late. She never bothers with all those people she hates.

KING (singing): That's why the lady is a tramp.

GRIFFIN (singing): She don't like crap games. KING (singing): With barons and earls.

GRIFFIN (singing): She won't go to Harlem...

KING (singing): In earrings and pearls.

GRIFFIN AND KING (singing): Well, she won't dish the dirt with the rest of the girls, that's why the lady is a tramp. She loves the free, fresh wind in her hair, a life without care. She is broke, that's so, hates California because it is cold and it's damp...

KING (singing): That's why the lady...

GRIFFIN (singing): That's why the lady...

KING (singing): That's why the lady is a tramp.

GRIFFIN: Wow. What a team.

KING: Oh, we're going on road with this.

GRIFFIN: Olson and Johnson are back.

KING: They're back. Nichols and May! Every team you've ever heard of. They're calling from Moscow, they want us.

GRIFFIN: Are they?

KING: We are all over the world.

GRIFFIN: Hello, Moscow!

KING: When we'll be back, we are going to be a hit.

GRIFFIN: We're going to be a hit there. Huge hit, because they never heard of us there. Well, they've heard of you. Are you on in Moscow?

KING: You bet your life.

GRIFFIN: Oh, I know the mayor.

KING: OK, don't throw it out!

GRIFFIN: I do know the mayor!

KING: You know him, all right. You know everybody.

GRIFFIN: Well, remember the night we had the fight on who interviewed who, and who didn't?


GRIFFIN: That was on the air. That was a good one.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments with Merv Griffin. This is the new album "It's Like a Dream," you can tell he's singing as good as ever. We'll be right back, don't go away.



GRIFFIN (singing): Rain, it's so cozy in the rain. There is no reason to complain if she is with you to hold your hand, and then it's 10 to one, you kiss her in the rain.


KING: We're back with Merv Griffin. I tried to sing, but I couldn't sing.

GRIFFIN: I sang one time with a band in Brooklyn. Were you Brooklyn or (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

KING: Brooklyn.

GRIFFIN: Brooklyn -- at a hall there. And while I was singing, guys out dancing with the girls, would dance by, and take the microphone and finish the song. And Freddy said, don't do anything about it, don't do anything about it. We thought we were all going to get beaten up.

KING: What was it like, being a band singer?

GRIFFIN: Oh, it was wonderful.

KING: You sit there, you sit down, the band is the star.

GRIFFIN: The night before you play the coal fields of Pennsylvania, Mahanoy City, and people would say things like, how late do you play until? I thought it was a whole world, how late do you play until? How late do you go until? You go until what? And then, the next night we'd be in the Waldorf-Astoria on the Starlight Roof. I mean, you had to learn to switch gears fast and close.

KING: The band singer has to understand the band is the star, right?

GRIFFIN: Well, the band singer is like a -- can't say that.

KING: He's not a prop.

GRIFFIN: He's like the hustler. In other words, the trumpet behind me says, Merv, the girl in a white dress with the red scarf, I want her tonight. And I say, OK, and she would dance by with a guy and he would turn her eventually around, and she was facing me, and I would go: "trumpet player."

One night, one of our best friends saw me do, his best friend saw me do it, told about it, and we actually had to leave the ballroom, with all the guys in band holding their instruments up like this, ready to hit the guys on the head in order to get out the door.

KING: What do you want to do, Merv?


GRIFFIN: When I was kid, I sold bail bonds -- bail bonds? War bonds, on street corners and stuff, and I had a big arrangement. I was the first rapper the world has ever known.

(singing): I got rhythm, I got music, I got my gal, who could ask for anything more. I got daisies in three (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I have got my gal, I couldn't ask for anything more. Old man trouble, I don't mind him, you won't find him hanging around my door. I have got starlight, I have got sweet dreams, I got my gal, I couldn't ask for anything more. Who could ask for anything more?

(normal voice): My big number. Are you listening?

(rapping): I got my rhythm in the morning and my rhythm at night, I got all this rhythm just to make things right. A lot of kinds of rhythm that will make me shout, but the boogie, boogie rhythm just knocks me out.

(normal voice): And I play that thing up.

(rapping): Now, down in Old Havana, where the senoritas play, a different kind of rhythm that they do all day.

(normal voice): See, I was in Old Havana, that was before Castro.

(rapping): Down in Old Havana, where the senoritas play, a different kind of rhythm that they do all day. They shake their maracas, they bounce all round, they do a rumba rhythm when they go to town.

Down in Argentina, where the gauchos meet, they always have a session and they dance in the street. You ought to see them strut, you ought to see them glide, because that's tango rhythm the way they slip and slide.

(normal voice): This was the big number. That would get people crazy. They would buy bonds and yell, shut that kid up!

(rapping): So, you want to have some rhythm just to keep you alive, rumba, boogie, tango when you down jive. Don't give any waltzes or that symphony, because that's an old buck rhythm is the thing for me. I got rhythm! I got music.

(normal voice): And so, that was my big number. That's how I started.

KING: Was "Coconuts" with Freddy Martin?


KING: Was there another hit with him, too?

GRIFFIN: Well, we followed that with "Knees Up Mother Brown," but that didn't make it.

KING: "Knees Up Mother Brown?"

GRIFFIN (singing): Knees up, mother Brown, well, knees up, mother Brown, come along, dearie, let it go, it's your blooming birthday, let's wake up all the town, knees up, knees up, don't get a breeze up, knees up mother Brown.

It didn't go. But I had "Once in Love With Amy," until Ray Bolger's record came out.

KING: I love that song.

GRIFFIN: Yeah, that was a great on. Then I had -- well, Frank Loesser was a really great friend of mine.

KING: He wrote that show, "West Side."

GRIFFIN: I know. Oh, he wrote "Guys And Dolls," he wrote everything. He used to invite me over here on Saturday to rehearse with him his songs, and then every Saturday, he would say: the gardener didn't show up again. Would you help me cut the lawn, Merv? Every Saturday, I'd cut his damn lawn.

KING: He wrote words and music.

GRIFFIN: And I was a major name at that time. What?

KING: He wrote words and music, Frank Loesser, he did it all.

GRIFFIN: I did "Joey, Joey" from "Most Happy Fellow," I did a lot of...

KING: It's a tough song.

GRIFFIN: ... hits -- "Roger Young."

(singing): Roger Young, Roger Young...


(singing): For the everlasting glory of the infantry, lives the name, lives the name of Roger Young.

KING: I didn't know Frank Loesser wrote that.

GRIFFIN: He wrote that. He was great.

KING: What are we going out with?

GRIFFIN: We are going to go out with...

KING: We'll fade it out, we'll go -- because we are almost out of time, folks, so why don't go "A Little Funny Valentine," and let that close it.

GRIFFIN: So sad.

KING: Our guest has been Merv Griffin. See you over the weekend with Celine Dion, and a retrospective on the life of Tip O'Neill.

GRIFFIN: Can I open for Celine Dion? Wow!

KING (singing): With my heart. Sing it, Merv! Your looks.

GRIFFIN (singing): Your looks are laughable...

KING AND GRIFFIN (singing): Unphotographable.

GRIFFIN (singing): Yet you are my favorite work of art. Is your figure less than Greek? You bet it is. Is your mouth a little weak? That, too. When you open it to speak, are you smiling? Don't change a hair, not if you care for me. Stay, little Valentine, stay. Each day is Valentine's Day.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

Back to the top