Alex Blaze

Straight-washing Merv Griffin

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 22, 2007 8:43 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment
Tags: Merv Griffin, straight-washing, The Hollywood Reporter

Ray Richmond wrote a story about his personal friend Merv Griffin for The Hollywood Reporter last week entitled "Merv Griffin died a closeted homosexual", and, well, it's caused a bit of a stir.

Michelangelo Signorile noticed that it was pulled from the THR website after being posted, appearing in print, and being syndicated on Reuters. It was one of the few articles after Griffin's death to even mention that he may have been gay, and it did so pretty full-on.

Signorile reports:

The person responsible for pulling Ray Richmond's column on Merv Griffin and the fact that he was gay was editor Elizabeth Guider, pictured here, who was apparently out of town and who completely freaked when the pressure came from various Hollywood titans, advertisers and lawyers for one of Griffin's companies. [...] Specifically, she'd received a legal threat from one of Griffin's companies.

While we really don't know exactly who asked for the article to be pulled, the reason is obvious: no one is supposed to talk about Merv Griffin's deep, dark secret that pretty much everyone knew. He was a big name in Hollywood at a time when it wasn't so great to be gay (not that Hollywood is all that great now, as this story indicates), and he decided never to come out for whatever reason. But to completely erase that aspect of his life after death? That's pretty homophobic, and that's what I'd call straight-washing, implying that the greatest compliment a queer person can receive after death is to be thought of as straight.

But I do want to know the who and the why of this story, although I'm going to have to wait on those two questions until we get some answers. But until then, there's idle speculation:

Richmond's column was published the night before and had gone up through the editorial channels and no one saw it as a problem. But the Hollywood power brokers who attended Griffin's funeral mass in Berverly Hills on Friday woke up that morning to see "Merv Griffin was gay" in their Bible of the industry, and obviously they began burning up the phone lines. It's possible that even the governor's office or Arnie himself leaned on THR since Schwarzenegger gave one of the eulogies, thanking Griffin for giving him his start in showbiz. Or did the powerful Washington Post television critic Tom Shales put the pressure on? He certainly has the influence in the industry and was furious about the discussion of Griffin's sexuality.

Interesting if true.


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Don Sherfick | August 22, 2007 10:06 AM

Now Alex, just stop that! Surely you must know that Merv repented of his failings during life and is now savely in the heavenly fold, free of any sinful proclivities that may have dogged him in this life. We are all sinners. Let him rest in peace....and let all of those other folks in the industry rest free of the thought (gasp) that anybody successful could be, well, you know..... queer. [Hmmm...I think it's catching] After all, lots of impressionable kids watch "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" back to back weekdays. "What are 'impressionable minds, Alex?'". [Oooops, I meant the OTHER Alex]