Monday, August 27, 2007

Kicking the Dead: Gay Merv Griffin's Fascist Political Affiliations

" ... nobody knew what my political affiliations were."

" ... Griffin was a guest on FOX & Friends just last month. In what would be his last interview, Brian Kilmeade asked Griffin about his legacy and how his television show impacted politics: 'The Kennedy White House would call my producer,' Griffin said, 'so they became aware of how valuable the talk shows were to a candidate.'

"'The 23 years I did my show, nobody knew what my political affiliations were.' Merv Griffin was 82."
Censorship Intrigues - Flashback: Merv Griffin Blasts CBS as 'Cowardly' on Reagan Movie

By Brent Baker
August 13, 2007

... Word came Sunday that entertainment industry titan Merv Griffin passed away at age 82. Back in October of 2003, when CBS planned to air a derogatory mini-series about Ronald and Nancy Reagan, The Reagans, Griffin went onto MSNBC to denounce CBS as “cowardly” for belittling Ronald Reagan and distorting his record when the former President (who would die eight months later) was on his deathbed. Thanks to controversy over the movie, fueled in part by a letter from the MRC to all advertisers urging them to review the movie before placing ads and to consider what their customers would think of their support for such a disparaging portrait, CBS moved the movie to its Showtime pay cable movie channel.

An excerpt from the October 29, 2003 MRC CyberAlert:

Veteran television host and producer Merv Griffin, a long-time friend of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, appeared Tuesday night [October 28, 2003] on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann and used the opportunity to blast CBS for “the most cowardly thing I’ve ever heard” over the reported tone and content of CBS’s upcoming mini-series, The Reagans. “It’s a cowardly act,” he charged, asking: “Is that what the 'C’ stands for in CBS?”

Griffin, the owner of the Beverly Hilton who created the Wheel of Fortune game show after many years as host of his own daytime Merv Griffin Show, relayed how Nancy Reagan feels “hurt” by the distorted portrayal.

Griffin laid into CBS for denigrating the Reagans when they “can’t fight back” since Ronald Reagan is “on his deathbed” and Nancy Reagan is taking care of him all day. An angry Griffin asserted:

“Here is a man who is on his deathbed. He’s in the last stages of Alzheimer’s, and a woman who has been sitting by the bedside there holding his hand for nine years, they can’t fight back. From what I’ve read, I have not seen the film, I have not read the script, but I have certainly seen enough excerpts from it in the promos. I mean it’s, I think it’s cowardly. I think it’s the most cowardly thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t understand my own medium which I’ve been in since the Dumont network. How can it be so cruel? That’s not, from what I’ve read in the scenes, that’s not Nancy and the President at all.”

But MSNBC delivered a cowardly act itself. As Griffin spoke, MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth noticed, on-screen text, below some historic video of Ronald and Nancy Reagan, read: “30 Members of Reagan Admin. Spent Time in Prison.”

That was the fourth an final information line MSNBC placed on screen toward the start of Griffin’s appearance by satellite from California. The previous three:

• “A U.S. Aircraft Carrier is Named After Reagan”

• “Nancy Reagan Refused to Live in CA Governor’s Mansion”

• “Reagan Was Named Spokesman for General Electric in 1950s”

Showtime ran the movie on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. An excerpt from my Monday, December 1, 2003 MRC CyberAlert about what I saw and several very negative newspaper reviews ...
Merv and the Right
From the Real Estalker Blog

"... Merv is a rare thing in the Hollywood establishment in that he's a staunch, right-wing conservative who donates large amounts of cash to Republican candidates. It's no secret Merv was best pals with Ronnie and Nancy Reagan, but he also has a friendly relationship with our current president. In a recent article in Rolling Stone, Merv had this to say about our dear leader: 'Oooooh, I love him, yes,' says Merv. 'He's funny, bright, intelligent and loves to have a good time.' Your Mama does not mean to get political here, but that scares the skin right off our bones.

"As all the children know, as long as Merv has been in the spot light, he has bobbed and weaved around publicly declaring his (homo)sexuality. When asked about it, he visibly bristles, often tries to change the subject to his one-time gal pal Eva Gabor, or makes some sort of unnerving quip as he did in a New York Times article when he said, 'I'm a quatre-sexual. I will do anything with anybody for a quarter.' What?!? ... "
Merv Griffin died a closeted homosexual
Reuters - Aug 16, 2007

I had more than a passing acquaintance with him, having worked on "The Merv Griffin Show" as a talent coordinator/segment producer in 1985-86 as the show was winding down. Around the office, Merv's being gay was understood but rarely discussed (and certainly never with him). We knew nothing of his relationships because he guarded his privacy fiercely, and we didn't pry.

Merv's secret gay life was widely known throughout showbiz culture, if not the wider America. It gained traction in 1991 when he was targeted in a pair of lawsuits: by "Dance Fever" host Denny Terrio, alleging sexual harassment; and by assistant Brent Plott seeking $200 million in palimony. Both ultimately were dismissed.

Over the past 16 years of his life, however, Griffin deflected the sexuality questions with a quip, determining that his private life remained nobody's business. He certainly didn't owe us an explanation, but maybe he owed it to himself to remove the suffocating veil he'd been forced to hide behind throughout his adult life. Then again, Merv carved his niche in the entertainment world at a time when being gay wasn't OK, when disclosure was unthinkable and the allegation alone could deep-six one's career.
Merv & me: Visits to mogul's world magical
By Francesca Donlan
Originally posted on August 27, 2007

I met Merv Griffin after his astrologer called me.

"You're the perfect person to interview him," said Dana Haynes, known as "Astrologer to the Stars."

She thought our planets and personalities were a good match. ...

Nancy Reagan was one of Merv's best friends.

He thought Ronald Reagan moved too quickly from presidency to ranch life. He thought maybe his brain slowed down too much. He also shared a birthday with Nancy Reagan — July 6 — and his interest in astrology. ...

In fact, he blames himself for the national media frenzy that ignited when he introduced astrologer Joan Quigley to Nancy Reagan. Quigley wrote a book and that caused a flurry of bad press. Merv never visited the White House after that controversy.

But that didn't stop him from believing in astrology. He hired Dana, a Palm Springs-based astrologer, to work at his Palm Springs hotel every Tuesday night. He enjoyed her predictions, which he believed in.

I met Dana when I wrote about her for The Desert Sun. One Tuesday night she called and asked me to come for drinks at the hotel with Merv and friends. It was a beautiful, warm, starry Palm Springs fall evening.

Merv ordered wine and chocolate souffles for everyone. We sat around a candlelit table outside the hotel facing thousands of roses in his amazing garden and I breathed all of it in. ... I had never imagined eating chocolate souffle under the stars with a billionaire and an astrologer. My planets were definitely aligned.

... I met him at his estate a few months later on a Sunday afternoon. We had lunch with retired Adm. Bill Narva, who spent 30 years as attending physician to presidents and the U.S. Congress, and his wife, Rose Narva, who managed many of Merv's hotel properties. They were very close friends with Merv and spent a lot of time together. ...

He and I both attended the 20th anniversary of the Betty Ford Center in January 2003. First ladies Nancy Reagan, Rosalynn Carter, Barbara Bush and Hillary Clinton attended her gala. Merv escorted Nancy Reagan. I covered it for the paper and waved to him across a very crowded room.

(White) House Calls
By Doug Vandewinckel

Rear Admiral William M. Narva earned his medical degree at Yale and his military rank in the U.S. Navy, and went on to treat every U.S. president from Lyndon Johnson to George H.W. Bush. But it all began in the Quonset huts of Hofstra College.

His patient roster reads like the glossary of an American history textbook...and no wonder. As a top Navy Medical Corps officer and, eventually, as the attending physician to the U.S. Congress, Rear Admiral William M. Narva spent nearly 30 years caring for our nation’s most prominent government and military leaders.

You have to respect a man who can casually recall both social and professional relationships with the likes of Senator Ted Kennedy, Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, the legendary Admiral Chester Nimitz and a rising young brigadier general named Colin Powell. ...

When he entered Yale Medical School in 1952, the realities of the military draft were still very much on would-be Dr. Narva’s mind. He decided to enlist as a naval officer and was commissioned as an ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He entered active duty in 1955, completed an internship at Bethesda, and his residency in dermatology and infectious diseases at the naval hospitals in San Diego and Oakland. ...

Fortunately, my wife, Rose, is not only a brilliant businesswoman in her own right, but also the consummate Navy wife. ‘You know you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t take this job,’ she said. So we packed up and headed back east.”

On to the White House

Since 1928, the U.S. Navy Medical Corps has attended to the medical needs of Congress and, by extension, most officials in the U.S. government. Less than six weeks after arriving at Bethesda, Lt. Commander William Narva found himself in the White House master bedroom examining President Lyndon Baines Johnson (who he describes as “larger than life, and probably the most intimidating man I’ve ever met”). It would be the first of many presidential encounters; in fact, Admiral Narva went on to consult with every president from Johnson to the senior George H. W. Bush before his retirement in 1990. ...

“In the 1970s, Rose was the first woman to become the general manager of a major hotel,” Admiral Narva says with evident pride and admiration. “She was managing the Jefferson Hotel in its heyday, when it was frequented by people like the Washington Post’s Katherine Graham and Benjamin Bradlee, and CIA Director Bill Casey and six Cabinet officers, including Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger and Attorney General William French Smith. In fact, the Jefferson became known around town as ‘White House North.’ So it was only natural we’d get together socially with some prominent people.”

Over the years, Admiral Narva found himself in the company of many of the top players in Washington’s inner circle, whether it was playing tennis with Vice President Spiro Agnew and Senator Charles Percy, or sharing coffee with President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara. Thus it was that when the time came to replace Congress’ attending physician in 1986, five names were submitted to the Congressional leadership as per protocol, but Admiral William Narva was the immediate and unanimous choice. ...

Shortly after his appointment, a Washington Post reporter cornered him with a thorny question: why was a dermatologist chosen to be the attending physician of Congress? Admiral Narva responded with the glib, disarming humor that had become his trademark.

“I asked the fellow, ‘How long have you been a reporter in this town?’ ‘Fifteen years,’ he said. I replied, ‘After 15 years in Washington, you haven’t learned how thin-skinned American politicians are?’We had a good laugh, and the story went nowhere.” ...

In 1990, early in the first Bush administration, Admiral Narva was finally allowed to hang up his least as far as the U.S. government was concerned. Retirement from the Navy did not mean retirement from medicine, however, and Admiral Narva became a highly sought-after consultant, lecturer and adviser at several prominent institutions,
including Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Later, when his wife, Rose, opened the first Givenchy Spa in Palm Springs, the couple relocated to the West Coast once more, where Admiral Narva served on the boards of a number of medical and charitable organizations in California.

Today, Admiral Narva is happy to be Rose’s full-time “prince consort,” while she continues her own highly successful career. And instead of two- and three-star admirals, he’s rubbing elbows with stars of a different stripe: including Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, and entertainment moguls like Merv Griffin and Jackie Cooper. But he and Rose have also kept in close touch with old friends from Washington, including former First Lady Nancy Reagan, with whom they share a special bond.

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