Merv Griffin, the creator of quiz shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, has died aged 82.

A family statement confirmed his death from prostate cancer, leaving the United States without one of its most popular television presenters from the 1960s and '70s.

Griffin managed to fit a remarkable array of different careers into his time in the entertainment business.

He starred in 1953's So This Is Love with Kathryn Grayson, which he claimed included the first ever open-mouthed on-screen Kiss. That came after he hit chart success with I've Got A Lovely Bunch of Coconuts in the same period.

By the 1960s he was making the move into television and held his own on The Merv Griffin Show for over two decades. The programme's longevity reflected its popularity.

In the same period he came up with the ideas for Jeopoardy! and Wheel of Fortune, which eventually netted him an enormous $250 million (£124 million).

In later life he branched out into casino and hotel-owning, brushing up against rival Donald Trump on more than one occasion.

He continued to maintain his affable, self-deprecating exterior to the end. According to Fox News, he joked when he heard the news of his cancer's recurrence: "I'd rather play Jeopoardy! than live it."


12/08/2007 18:01:06