Merv Griffin started off as a big band singer and ended up one of the wealthiest men in Hollywood after his company created both Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, but he spent most of his career as the host of a talk show that somehow managed to combine light entertainment with some serious discussion of the issues of the day. The Merv Griffin Show - 1962-1986 is a new 12-disc DVD box set that presents 44 classic episodes and a wealth of bonus material.
One of the set's highlights is a 1983 interview with President Ronald Reagan, who sat down with his old Hollywood friend to have the kind of in-depth foreign policy discussion that he wasn't going to conduct with members of the Washington media. We've got a clip below that's worth watching as a reminder of how well both men could do in an interview. In this case, the President announces one of the biggest policy changes of his administration.
The overall set offers a great history lesson for the era and features performances by or interviews with Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Lucille Ball, Jerry Lewis, Jerry Seinfeld, John Wayne, Carole Burnett, Warren Beatty, Willie Mays and the last-ever interview with Orson Welles. In one particularly mind-bending moment, a Phyllis Diller standup routine is immediately followed by an interview with one of the Japanese officers who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor.
There's a lot of nostalgia for the old folks and a lot of education for young people, even if just so they can see how much everyone's wardrobe and hairstyles changed from 1962 to 1986.