Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Silver Liberace 3 Times by LeRoy More Hole

ONE-TIME TV talk-show host, casino operator, game-show creator Merv Griffin would twitch in his grave if he knew this week "Merv Griffin: A Life in the Closet" would hit book stores. Darwin Porter told me why he tore the door off Merv's closet. "I've done biographies of Brando, Hepburn, Bogart, Howard Hughes. It's what I do. And other than his own two books, he's never been done. Also, I'm fascinated with this man. We met in '59 when he sang for my senior prom and the student committee paid him $500. What he made then was a far cry from the billionaire he was at the end." So let's get right to it. The foibles, indiscretions and mattress romps of Merv Griffin: "He lost his virginity, to a female, that is, when Judy Garland seduced him. His first crush was Errol Flynn, whom he saw passed out naked on a couch. His roommate a year and a half was Montgomery Clift. He lived with Roddy McDowall here at the Dakota, where he introduced Eddie Fisher to Elizabeth Taylor. He maintained a virtual male harem and a pimp who supplied porn stars, but I don't go into his pay-for-gay guys. I keep it to his A-list dates like Rock Hudson, whom he met through Henry Wilson, Rock's agent, and who advised him to keep his sexuality quiet. "And there was a young James Dean selling his sex for cash. Plus Judy Garland's 'Meet Me in St. Louis' boy next door, Tom Drake, who, by the way, ended up a used car salesman. There was Peter Lawford, Robert Walker, Gordon Scott the then-Tarzan. And lots about Merv's prolonged sexual tryst with Marlon Brando. There are his experiences at Liberace's all-male orgies. His first encounter, a boyhood friend he grew up with, later tried writing a book about Merv. This being an era when male actors felt homosexuality was a danger to their career, lawyers shot down that book fast. "I write that friends who went to school with him in San Mateo say, when he was a young homosexual growing up, he was sexually molested" by a priest. What about his marriage? "Dangerous territory. I don't touch that. I was threatened by his estate. My book ranges from the '30s to the '60s but, being under threat, my legal counsel advised me to stick only to what I myself actually absolutely knew." Another thing he sticks to is people who are gone.Published by Blood Moon Productions, which does all the Frommer's travel guides, heeeeeere's Merv is 560 pages, 100 photos, a truckload of gossip and a bedful of unauthorized dish. If you believe Darwin Porter, Merv Griffin knew more men than Madonna. _Cindy Adama, NY Post

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