Norman Mailer struts his stuff on Merv Griffin

Norman Mailer walked like a boxer, strutting out of his corner and into the ring. It was probably done for affect, and sometimes it worked, though it often made him look like Benny the Ball from Top Cat.

Mailer did a lot of things for affect. His intonation and accent could change depending on situation, location, and who he was talking to. It probably all started when he was in the army during the Second World War, where Mailer learned to be tough after mixing with big guys who said “fuggin’’” a lot. It was a front he kept up most of his life.

I noticed Mailer’s ability to adapt when I was a kid living living in Scotland, and saw him interviewed on the BBC’s Parkinson chat show. New Jersey-born Mailer opened his mouth and spoke with an English-lilt that suggested possibly Boston, received pronunciation and what he had picked-up during his brief marriage to Lady Jeanne Campbell, daughter of the British press baron Lord Beaverbrook. Accent aside, he was still impressive.

I am a big fan of Norman Mailer, and think him one of the very few authors of the past fifty years who, even with his flaws and excesses, still demands to be read. There is always something to be learnt from Mailer, both good and bad, and that’s what makes him interesting. Here Mailer struts an entrance onto The Merv Griffin Show like he is a boxer, and goes on to talk about writing, presence, being middle-aged, America, communism and Russia.

This clip offers a critique as to what is wrong with most of today’s chat-shows, where there appears to be a dearth of great writers and thinkers sharing their knowledge and yes, plugging their wares. Instead we have the inarticulate pop stars, the reality show nobodies and the actors selling their latest movie, you just know you won’t bother to see. At least with Mailer, you could always pick up some original thought, or observation which might encourage further investigation.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Sharon Tate gives Merv Griffin a tour of London’s Carnaby Street, 1966

Sharon Tate takes Merv Griffin on a tour of swinging London’s Carnaby Street, in August 1966.

A poignant piece of TV history capturing much of the innocence, idealism, and happiness that seemed to infuse the sixties. All of which is usurped by our grim knowledge of what happened to Sharon Tate only a few years later.

Previously on Dangerous Minds

Blondie on Merv Griffin, 1980

With thanks to Simon Wells!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Blondie on Merv Griffin, 1980
01:48 am


Debbie Harry
Chris Stein
Merv Griffin

Another great piece of rock history from The Merv Griffin Show. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein adapt to the role of talk show guests with the ease of the cool New Yorkers they are. And this cements Merv’s place in the Hipster Hall Of Fame. Totally.

It’s 1980 and Blondie has gone from Bowery punks to pop stars. You can tell Harry and Stein are struggling a bit with the whole fame thing.

Thanks Jim! 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Phil Spector’s 1965 appearance on Merv Griffin’s show gets tense with Eartha Kitt and Richard Pryor

Phil Spector
And this is what he turned into? What a complete shock…
So although it’s fairly well-known what a crazy motherfucker Phil Spector is, it’s still somewhat surprising to see that he never even went a little bit out of his way to at least try to affect an air of bare minimum congeniality, or to be charming, or attempt to appear SANE, even when he was on television. From the get-go, he’s hostile to Merv (how can you be hostile to Merv?) and becomes increasingly irritated and paranoid throughout the interview.

By the time Spector alludes to hitting Merv and a very unimpressed and composed Eartha Kitt—who hits him hard with her well-delivered Socrates quip—the audience is hissing and booing him.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick on ‘The Merv Griffin Show,’ 1965

Merv Griffin was always known for having slightly more outre guests than most of the other daytime talkshows of his era, but this October 6, 1965 interview with a nearly mute Andy Warhol and a much more talkative Edie Sedgwick must’ve been quite perplexing to American housewives when it originally aired.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Merv Griffin-Amityville Horror Summit

I suppose you can consider the attached Merv Griffin clips where George and Kathy Lutz join actor Rod Steiger of the Amityville Horror movie, a Dangerous Minds “Halloween post.”  But I find them interesting for a reason beyond tomorrow’s holiday.

Without getting into the “truthiness” of the Lutz’s claims, and knowing this was obviously great publicity for the movie, they remind me of how seriously the television landscape back then treated matters of the occult and the supernatural.

In fact, as a kid growing up in the ‘70s, that’s exactly what made that decade, for me, feel so terrifying: even adults weren’t taking this stuff lightly!  Today there’s Ghost Hunters, sure, but that’s a self-contained show—a self-contained world.  And I can’t quite imagine the ladies of The View devoting an entire hour to a supposedly haunted house on Long Island.

As reads go, I remember Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror book being spooky and terrifying.  To my young mind, the demonic visitations that plagued the Lutz family felt entirely plausible.  Hell, even the cover announced it as “a true story.”  Not even “based on,” just true.  And it was happening to adults, authority figures—people in charge!  Like I said: spooky and terrifying.

But between In Search Of…, Night Gallery, and Ghost Story (both Sebastian Cabot‘s and Peter Straub‘s) that’s largely how I remember the ‘70s, anyway: far more spooky and terrifying than the decades that followed it.  And I don’t think this was entirely due to my young age, or some particular rise in darker shit going down.

The likelier culprit was that decade’s proximity to the one that preceded it: the nervous breakdown fallout from the ‘60s was still seeping and spilling under the floorboards of the ‘70s’ pop cultural landscape.

George and Kathy Lutz show up on Merv Griffin in Part IV.  Links to the remainder of the show follow below:

The Amityville Gang Does Merv Griffin, Part: I, II, III, V

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment
Don Rickles And Nina Hagen On Merv Griffin

RicklesHagen.  Two great tastes that taste great together.  “Individual God Identity?”  VD humor?  Oh, mid-eighties daytime television, I so miss your zany spontaneity!

Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment