Two years ago, Merv Griffin died, leaving behind a legacy that included Wheel Of Fortune, Jeopardy, hotels, side business ventures, and more than a billion dollars. Also: speculation. Rumors about Griffin being a big ‘mo aren’t new, and they weren’t helped by two lawsuits (a palimony claim, and a sexual harassment charge) by two dudes in the 90s. Though dismissed, the lawsuits put Griffin on the spot, and while he never denied being gay, he didn’t own it either. Now, someone else is doing it for him.
Author Darwin Porter’s niche is posthumously outing celebrities. He did it for Marlon Brandon. He did it for Katharine Hepburn. And now he’s doing it to Griffin with Merv Griffin: a Life in the Closet. Having just hit bookstores, Porter is on a media tour — a stop that includes Cindy Adam’s column.
Of Griffin, Porter says, “We met in ’59 when he sang for my senior prom and the student committee paid him $500. What he made then was a far cry from the billionaire he was at the end.”
But what about the sex? “He lost his virginity, to a female, that is, when Judy Garland seduced him. His first crush was Errol Flynn, whom he saw passed out naked on a couch. His roommate a year and a half was Montgomery Clift. He lived with Roddy McDowall here at the Dakota, where he introduced Eddie Fisher to Elizabeth Taylor. He maintained a virtual male harem and a pimp who supplied porn stars, but I don’t go into his pay-for-gay guys. I keep it to his A-list dates like Rock Hudson, whom he met through Henry Wilson, Rock’s agent, and who advised him to keep his sexuality quiet. And there was a young James Dean selling his sex for cash. Plus Judy Garland’s ‘Meet Me in St. Louis’ boy next door, Tom Drake, who, by the way, ended up a used car salesman. There was Peter Lawford, Robert Walker, Gordon Scott the then-Tarzan. And lots about Merv’s prolonged sexual tryst with Marlon Brando. There are his experiences at Liberace’s all-male orgies. His first encounter, a boyhood friend he grew up with, later tried writing a book about Merv. This being an era when male actors felt homosexuality was a danger to their career, lawyers shot down that book fast.”
And if that wasn’t scandalous enough: “I write that friends who went to school with him in San Mateo say, when he was a young homosexual growing up, he was sexually molested” by a priest.
Of course, Porter has one thing working for him: almost no threat of litigation. Most of the folks Porter talks about and says Griffin was involved with are, like Griffin, dead. And as any law student knows, you can’t libel the dead. So it doesn’t matter if he calls James Dean a glorified prostitute, or Griffin a pimp. None of this has to be true for him to get a book deal without worrying about getting sued.
Of course, some part of you secretly wants this all to be real. Whores!