Merv Griffin Show, The (1962-1963)

In 1962 when Jack Paar decided to leave Tonight, several names were mentioned as possible replacements. Among them was a former band singer named Merv Griffin, who had recently been hosting the game shows Play Your Hunch for NBC and Keep Talking for CBS. He had also guest-hosted successfully for Paar and probably would have gotten the late night show, had NBC not opted to go with Johnny Carson. But just in case Johnny didn’t work out, NBC also signed Griffin and kept him in the bullpen. Merv hosted Tonight during the interim period after Paar departed but before Carson arrived. And then Merv started an afternoon talk show that debuted October 1, 1962 — the same day Johnny took over The Tonight Show.

As things turned out, Carson’s talk show succeeded but Merv’s did not. It was cancelled in less than a year. But Merv didn’t hurt for the experience. His deal with NBC had guaranteed that his production company could do a couple of game shows for the network. In short order, he was back on the air with Word for Word.