Merv Griffin’s Gay Shame Becomes The Hollywood Reporter‘s

Friday’s rather stunning pronouncement by the Hollywood Reporter that “Merv Griffin was gay” sent enough shock waves through old Hollywood that Reuters, who syndicated the story internationally, was pressured to pull the story, which it did, in what Michelangelo Signorile calls “the most bizarre case of attempted censorship we’ve seen in years.”

MervHere’s the timeline, via Editor & Publisher

Hollywood Reporter publishes story “Merv Griffin was Gay”
Reporter pulls the story, republishes it titled “Griffin never revealed man behind the curtain.”
–Reuters picks up story in its news feed, syndicates it internationally.
–Reuters pulls story, with this explanation: “This was a story from The Hollywood Reporter that ran as part of a Reuters news feed. We have dropped the story from our entertainment news feed as it did not meet our standards for news. GBU Editor.”

Signorile reports that Elizabeth Guider, who has been editor of the Reporter for less than a month, pulled the story after pressure from “various Hollywood titans, advertisers and lawyers for one of Griffin’s companies.”

Writes Signorile: “Specifically, she’d received a legal threat from one of Griffin’s companies, but any editor worth his or her salt would know there was no case here: a dead man cannot be libeled, and there was no libel here anyway. Merv Griffin was gay, and many people could attest to that. Apparently some advertisers, specifically one with an ad buy that was a tribute to Griffin, were threatening ads would be pulled. Conceiveably, studios, production companies and others could bear pressure down, pressed by still others.”

MervRay Richmond, the article’s writer, said in an interview over the weekend: “Sure. I’m sure it was taken down because there was fear of litigation, and that the post was libelous and/or defamatory. And I certainly don’t believe that to be the case. I will have discussions with [my bosses at the Reporter, and I will hope at some point we can have it restored online. It seems that scotching the post gives the appearance of liability when there isn’t any. It was simply a factual, very informed discussion of the larger issue of the media’s difficulty in allowing someone to be labeled as gay in the mainstream, as if that is somehow a huge shame. My whole reason for doing the piece for the Reporter was to shine a light on that fact. Unfortunately that appears to be the case…even internally.”

The story, as of this morning, was live on the Hollywood Reporter website, with revisions. A detailed analysis of the revisions can be found over at Queer two Cents.

John Aravosis at AmericaBlog sums the situation up nicely: “You’d think the matter of an obit about or reminiscence of a public figure wouldn’t generate all this brouhaha, but that’s what happens when the world outside of the closet is so frightening to people in Hollywood that all sorts of insane measures are taken to reinforce the message is that there is something inherently wrong with being gay.”

Griffin Never Revealed Man Behind the Curtain [hollywood reporter – revised]

Reuters Drops Article About ‘Gay’ Merv Griffin [editor & publisher]
Mervgate: What Happened at the Hollywood Reporter? [the gist]
Truth About Merv Griffin In ‘Jeopardy’? [my queer two cents]
Ray Richmond speaks on Mervgate [kevin allman]
Now That’s a Headline [americablog]
Mervgate continues — article restored, but altered [pams house blend]

Hollywood Reporter: Merv Griffin Was Gay [tr]


  1. LV in NC says

    Let the man rest in as much peace as possible….if he was or wasnt gay – SO WHAT? The man did so much for entertainment that we have all enjoyed at some point or another. People who believe that its OK to out someone – or at least try to…are nothing more than rude, intrusive people who project thier own internal coming out issues onto others. Its ironic and sad that GLBT people fight for rights, equal treatment and respect as a community when we dont even respect others as individuals – dead or alive.

  2. anon says


    I have never met an out gay person who thought the closeted life style was ok. You need to deal with your own closet issues before coming on here and preaching to us.

    Thanks, have a nice day.

  3. the queen says

    I agree with LV, this infantile obsession with sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular smacks of alt.gossip.celebrities. To what purpose publish such an article? The man should be remembered for his contributions to art and society. Who cares who he slept with? What he did in bed is nobody’s business but his own. Let him rest in peace. Love ya Merv, thanks for all the good times.

  4. the queen says

    I agree with LV, this infantile obsession with sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular smacks of alt.gossip.celebrities. To what purpose publish such an article? The man should be remembered for his contributions to art and society. Who cares who he slept with? What he did in bed is nobody’s business but his own. Let him rest in peace. Love ya Merv, thanks for all the good times.

  5. BeeDee says

    I just don’t get who the hell Ray Richmond thinks he is. I don’t see what he did before Griffen’s memorial (and adequate time for Griffen’s family to grieve) any different than those religious freaks from Kansas protesting at the funeral’s of American servicemen/women.

    It’s not like Griffen was working against the gay community likes so many other closet cases have. If Griffen wanted to come out, he would have come out. Richmond has no right to rob Griffen of the dignity, respect, and legacy that Griffen clearly believed staying in the closet provided him.

  6. sean says

    queen, beedee, et. al., the fact that griffin did not live openly and therefore proudly as a gay man thereby giving the rest of the world the impression that his sexuality was something to hide and subsequently perceived as something wrong, the fact that he was in bed politically with the reagan and bush teams allows one to conclude that he may not have been directly responsible for discrimination towards the gay community but indirectly he certainly was. and again, queen, stop shrouding being in the closet with that vague notion of privacy. i don’t see any straights feeling the need for “privacy” when they kiss or hold hands in public. come out of the coward closet once and for all.

  7. anon ( says

    Where is the NY Times, Washington Post and other major newspapers and TV shows on this story? What are they reporting?

  8. says

    I think its disgusting that the media is pissing on Merv’s corpse with these accusations. I mean, can anyone prove Merv was gay? Eva Gabor was his girlfriend, for God’s sake! Griffin was a wonderful man, a close friend of Nancy Reagan, and he provided America with quality entertainment for decades. Why sully his reputation with reports of homosexuality?

    Not that I think there’s anything wrong with being gay but the closet is a beautiful and comforting thing. Merv lived in one to appear normal and now the liberal-biased media wants to eradicate normalcy from a dead man’s legacy.

    Just like Anderson Cooper, all homosexuals should remain in the closet and never openly declare homosexuality activity. Straight people would like us more and we wouldn’t have the added stress of being called names and getting beat up all the time.

    When was the last time you heard of a closeted gay man who was beaten to death? Never, because its always the gays who can’t shut about being homosexual. Merv Griffin lived a long and lucrative life. Something for us all to think about.

    (God help me with my self-loathing brethren.)

  9. anon says


    It took me a moment to pick up on the snark in your post, but at first My head was about to eplode. Nice satiracl take on the issue

  10. says

    It’s not like Griffen was working against the gay community likes so many other closet cases have.”

    He was indirectly, through his support of the Republican party. In fact his biggest donation to the Republicans happened in ’04 (check “” if you’d like confirmation of this.) All that anti-gay rhetoric sure didn’t scare away ol’ Merv. Personally I think he should burn in hell just for voting for Bush twice.

  11. MT says

    They should leave him alone. he chose not to live as an out gay man and he never did anything to harm the community so why not just let him do as he chooses?

    P.S. Just because you support the Republicans doesn’t make you automatically a fag basher. He was also a big time businessman and you don’t see the Democrats supporting that particular segment of the population.

  12. BeeDee says

    JOHN IN MANHATTAN: You and some of the others here are so smug and justified in YOUR right to choose how Merv Griffin defined himself in public and private – it makes me sick. BTW, I guess I missed the meeting where it was decided that friends and associates were a sufficient basis to justifying outing anyone.

    I’ve been out since I was 16 in the middle of frickin cow-pasture Ohio and I’ve been out – way out – every day ever since. That was something I needed to do to be right with myself – despite the fact that it was dangerous and counterproductive for the time and place. That doesn’t mean it applies to anybody else.

    Richmond is a thug. I doubt if he consulted with Griffin’s son or grandchildren before profiteering on Griffin’s name in this way and at this time. Richmond had no right to do what he did (by the way, the most Richmond could have truthfully reported is that Griffin was a bisexual) it is indecent. But that’s because Richmond is self-centered and ego-maniacal.

    Griffin was a man from a different time who made decisions for himself and, I suppose, his family that allowed him to be right in his world. He wasn’t hurting anyone, least of all the gay community and was not obliged to actively offer help to anyone (anymore than anybody). He has a right to that self-determination and dignity.

  13. says

    Just because you support the Republicans doesn’t make you automatically a fag basher.”

    It automatically makes you a supporter of fag-bashers.

    He was also a big time businessman and you don’t see the Democrats supporting that particular segment of the population.”

    Because the Democrats expect corporations and the rich to pay their far share? So it all gets down to money for you. Whatever Merv wanted to do to pad his bank account, is justified. Support a political party that demonizes gays, well that’s perfectly fine as long as doing so made an already obscenely wealthy man even richer. Republicans are immoral trash.

  14. Desi says

    I agree with the poster who said that a lot of people are projecting their own coming out struggles on Merv Griffin. The man live his life on his own terms. period. I guess it’s hard for some gay men to let other people do it, despite the rhetoric we put out to the world. Sure, it “might” have been nice if he had come out, but he didn’t. Deal with it.

    Outing comes across like “misery loves company”. sorry, but it does. Live and let live.

  15. says

    Griffin was a man from a different time”

    The argument that Merv couldn’t come out because he was a different time doesn’t fly, because he wasn’t from a different time, he only died a week ago. He had the last 20 yrs to come out, after his talk-show had ended, in the mid-80s, when gay liberation had been making advances for decades, and with his immense wealth to protect him. It had been perfectly safe for him to come out for many years now. No one’s saying he should’ve come out any earlier than after his talk-show ended.

    He has a right to that self-determination and dignity.”

    You keep associating being closeted with dignity. What a freak.

  16. says

    At least one of these posts is clearly ironic — and I wish more of them were. I’m amazed some posters actually read things like towleroad, but maybe they just file facts into separate compartments and don’t let them impinge on their judgment.

    Speaking of judgment, I thought there had been cases recently in which outing someone was deemed not libellous, since calling someone gay is no longer stigmatizing or insulting.

    Since when is living a lie (Merv) morally better than telling the truth (the “outers”)? There is no way to be in the closet without lying and there is no justification for it unless being gay is dangerous or shameful. If gays are afraid of violence or death, as they are in some countries, I have no problem with their staying in the closet. Merv did not live in Iran. I have no problem with him not being out in the 50s, 60s, even the 70s, but by the 90s and 2000+ it begins to look indefensible.

  17. says

    You can find my thoughts on (and observations of) Merv at the Huffington Post.
    Long Story Short: a Hollywood closet case of that era is wortha chuckle or two, but Merv wasn’t an ordinary closet case. he had enormous pwoer and used it to punish out gay people. If you worked for Merv and he found out you were “out” – you got thrown out.

    And the laws being what they were back then, there was NOTHING you could do about it.

    Merva was a scumbag. The “genuinely nice guy” image he invented was just a facade.

  18. Zeke says

    Before anyone else misuses the terms “libel”, “slander” or “defamation” let me point out that there is NO such thing as libeling, slandering or defaming a person with the truth.

    And KevinVT, I think you meant “satirical” rather than “ironic”.

  19. MT says

    When will gay people get over this need to drag EVERYONE out of the closet? We do it constantly. Any public figure who admits to being gay is immediately hoisted up on a pedestal and revered as a gay icon whether they want or not, whether they are worthy or not (Do you honestly think vapid idiots like Lance Bass are someone to look up to any more so than Matthew Shepard?) and when they don’t accept this halo of purity and leadership that is thrust upon them they are vilified as a traitor. We’re just as bad as George Bush and his branding anyone who questioned the war as unpatriotic. It’s rhetoric and dogma at it’s lowest form.

    We chose to come out of the closet and Griffin chose to stay in the closet. All of you really need to get over yourselves and stop being so hypocritical. We demand to be allowed to live our lives as we see fit so why shouldn’t he? Maybe you should all just leave Anderson and Merv and Mika alone to do what they want to do. Being gay may not be a choice, but living as an openly gay man is a choice and one that some people just don’t make.

  20. anon ( says

    Remember also that libel is in reference to criminal activity, such as accusing Merv of ripping off investors (as a hypothetical). Defamation involves “false light”, which is any untrue statement that may materially harm a person’s reputation, such as accusing Merv of having children out of wedlock (as a hypothetical). Emphasis on false in both cases, malicious intent is a factor in the case of public figures, thus the libeler needs to know the statement is false. With false light, a statement that a person is gay (for example, Ryan Seacrest), when they are not, may be materially harmful if their profession requires a straight image, even if in general to claim a person is gay is not materially harmful. However, the defamer has to know the claim is false, which would be claimed if the public figure declared that they were straight (for example, Ryan Seacrest). Bottom line: don’t go against explicit information from public figures unless you have evidence they are lying. In England, libel claims require proof on the part of the libeler not the libeled, meaning that they need not prove that they are straight to make their case. Tom C. has won a couple cases in the UK this way.

  21. says

    I’ve always defended people–celebrity or not–and their rights and decisions to live on their own terms. As long as the living of their lives doesn’t diminish the rights and decisions of others to do the same. Some people have mentioned Merv was “all up in” the Repubs financially and that he propped up Reagan even during the AIDS crisis. If that were the case, clearly he gave up his right to live freely on his own terms.

    Everything I hear about this man at this point is heresay. I don’t know Merv from a ham sandwich. Can I justly judge this man because a commenter on Towleroad tells me I shouldn’t? Every struggling minority group has enemies and friends. And then we have those in the middle who anger us more because they won’t pick a side. But they live and we live and we all die and along the we fight and time moves along. We can’t change anything about what Merv did or didn’t do by sitting around and debating it Whatever it was, he can’t do any of it any longer while we who are still here, can.

  22. nic says

    merv was a self-satisfied, self-loathing, fat bastard who kept feeding the repug hate machine. what a waste of wealth and influence.

  23. Giovanni says

    I get all the reasons why people choose not to come out but by expecting others to go along with the deception – or omission as the case maybe – in order to “protect” you and continue the lie – you not only make liars out of all involved but also perpetuate the archaic idea that being gay is still “the love that dare not speak its name” and no self respecting gay can have that.

    Most have us have worked through that self loathing thing a while ago and it’s cool if you are someone that hasn’t figured it out yet or even someone that never will – that alone does not make you a bad person.

    What’s not cool is the idea that we should lie for you (through omission) and in essence deny or belittle our own existence in order for you to continue living yours – the closet is only big enough for one person and to expect us all to stay crowded in there with you – well that does make you a bad person or at the very least a greedy, selfish one.

  24. chandler in hollywood says

    It puts all living closeted gays on notice that you cannot take your closet with you. Once you are dead, the gay hinges will be blown off you coffin and if you were never fucked in public when you were alive, YOU WILL BE, ONCE YOU ARE DEAD.
    Homo-philia-necro-razzo (HPNR): the schadenfreude joy of fucking over a formerly closeted dead gay celebrity in public.

  25. Leland Frances says

    Thanks, David, for the link to your perfect piece. And for your help in keeping Richmond’s story [and possibly livelihood] alive. LUVED the characterizations of the Mervettes [“A gaggle of gorgeous muscle boys in multi-colored Izod shirts’] and your imagining the latest batch in black Izods around his grave. Too bad Busby Berkeley isn’t still around to have choreographed them. And, yes, isn’t it about time that “Entertainment Tonight” started a sister brand called “Celebrity Deaths Tonight”? Hell, is their own channel far off where won can drown 24-7 in their crocodile tears and updates? Soon to be followed, no doubt, by the “Little Baby Dannielynn” Channel. Of course, such parasitic behavior predates “ET” et al., as anyone familiar with the history of the Dionne Quintuplets is aware. On a disturbing note, the funereal homage paid by Ellen & Portia reinforces my fear that she has devolved from part of the solution to a part of the problem. How can she be blind to the fact that Griffin would have probably canned TR Knight whom she treated with such dignity on her show?

    Below are a few details from Signorile himself about just how swell a guy Griffin was not. Even publicly closeted, he could have still thrown some of his billion+ wealth towards fighting AIDS. And, yes, all you self-loathing cocksuckers, Churchill was right. “The price of greatness is RESPONSIBILITY.”

    “First off, Griffin’s closet kept him shockingly silent while he had access to the president of the United States as his own people were dying. This man was intimate with the Reagans (and Nancy Reagan in particular) during the height of the AIDS epidemic in 80s, with few treatments available and fear-mongering having gripped the media. Griffin’s gay brothers — his friends, his lovers, his people across America, around the world — suffered and met horrific deaths. And yet, because he was closeted it is highly unlikely he ever made the connection for the Reagans (between himself and those who were suffering and dying), pointed out the government negligence, or even talked openly as a gay person. They likely knew, but it was unspoken, and that allowed all involved to just rationalize things –to say to themselves that, well, Merv, is not like those other people, and to always believe that maybe it wasn’t true anyway, and that he was truly dating Eva Gabor. He also stayed silent about the epidemic in the media — ironic since he was a man very much at the center of the media industry and in shaping communications and television in this country — when his voice would have made a huge difference.

    Secondly, Griffin’s closet had him engaging in workplace sexual harassment, something that, as I showed in my 1993 book Queer in America, is common among closeted powerful men, who often are simply seeking outlets for sex. That was not only focused on in the Denny Terrio lawsuit against Griffin but also was something that several Hollywood gay men told me about, offering first hand experience, while I was researching Queer in America back in the early 90s and some of this (though, for legal reasons not all) is reported on in the book.

    Finally, Griffin’s closet had him firing gay men who’d actually made it up through the ranks of his own company, simply because they were openly gay. There is a story in Queer in America about a man identified as “The Mogul” who did just that. I can now reveal that The Mogul is Merv Griffin. Open homosexuality is a threat to the closeted, and powerful people in the closet like Merv Griffin will often do whatever it takes to squash those who are open and who might advocate that all among the powerful should come out.

    Merv Griffin accomplished a lot and is, in his death, being held up as a example of a stellar Hollywood businessman. But he should also be held up as man who, like Malcolm Forbes before him, was hugely influential and powerful and yet still allowed the closet and homophobia to manipulate his life, and to cause him to do harm to his own people. That should not be forgotten.”

  26. says

    Zeke: while I initially thought you might be right about my use of the term irony, a quick check (I’m not home) reveals that Socratic irony “takes place when someone (classically a teacher) pretends to be foolish or ignorant, to expose the ignorance of another” and can be used for satirical effect. Seems apt to me!

  27. Judson says

    Wow. Great story. Loved Ehrenstein’s take and Richmond’s original piece, too. Richmond really does great work over there. But he really stirred up the shit on this one, LOL. I can’t imagine them firing him over it though. How stupid would that be, after all the people this story brought to the HR website last week?!?

  28. John says

    Okay, isn’t that fact that Eva Gabor was his constant companion during the last years of HER life proof enough he was gay? His love of show tunes? Hmm. I have been aware that he’s been gay for years, I didn’t really know he wasn’t out.

  29. john says

    you miss the point merv didnt out himself. the deal is he was a public figure. know one can know what his motives were as to why he remained in the closet. i have my own suspicions. the fact that he was gay is an item of truth. and no matter how unpleasant it may be to some, because it is the truth it needs to be acknowledged. what the public decides to do with this bit of truth is up to the public. but kudos to the one who reported it and the one who published it.

  30. LV in NC says

    First, to ANON who speculates that I have “closet issues” based on what he/she read in my first post, THANK YOU for making assumptions on my character – our community needs MORE people like you – now go back to your bar stool and order another cocktail – remember its two for one!

    Now, lets not forget that there are numerous people throughout history who thier lives to suit thier comforts. Some out more than others, some closeted more than others. The scores of public figures and celebrities who are gay, bi or whatever flavor are well documented. Does that mean that everyone in the world needs to know – I dont think so. Does that mean that a person who may have been gay has a duty to come out publicly? – I dont think so either.

    Although we are all a part of one community or another, we are all still individuals. Isnt it odd that some gay people will march in a parade with placards reading “what I do in my bedroom is my own business” while some will say publicly that “what you do in your bedroom is OUR business and shame on you for not making it public”. Things that make you go hmmm….

    God Save The Queens (from self destruction and canabalism!)

    Toodles folks – gotta hit the dance florr ’cause DJ is playing my song!

  31. Greg says

    Well, I would like to know ALL about Merv’s life in the closet.
    I think it’s sad as powerful as he was in business to spend his
    personal life in hiding. I have
    never known a closeted gay man that didn’t have a fucked up personal life. There is almost no way to have a normal, long term relationship; everything is usually strictly sexual and very temporary at best. Was Merv one
    of those sad celebrities that
    lived a life of tricks and paid for hustlers? Some may say he wanted to keep his private life private, but I have a feeling the price for that was very lonely
    no matter how much money he had!!

  32. Truuuudy says

    When you die, your aquitted from your sin. And when your ressurected you neither marry nor are given in marriage. There won’t be homosexuality in Paradise and if someone should start to cultivate a desire for the unnatural they will either have to come to their senses or lose their life. It won’t be hard to do what is right then because the whole earth will be what the book of Isaiah describes. email me, I’ll tell you what it says.

  33. Anthony says

    My Mother (who’s 84 years old) adored, respected, and followed Merv’s career from it’s beginning, but she’d never accept that he was anything but a straight celebrity man who raised a family while maintaining a career in “show business.” I personally believe he was a closeted Gay man, but SO WHAT! I personally do not understand, nor accept the Gay lifestyle, which is my personal right, but I respect the rights and privacy of others to make their own sexual lifestyle decisions. Mr. Griffin made his initial sexual orientation choices during a time where that generation’s view was very skewed and rigid. Although today many still view homosexuality as an unacceptable lifestyle (as I do), the fact remains that I would never force my “straight only” opinion upon any Gay person because it’s not my right to do so. I feel Mr. Griffin should be remembered for his positive contributions regardless of his private lifestyle choices. It’s unfortunate that such a great man had to live in such a “hidden manner”. Rest in peace, Merv!

  34. MIkey says

    I may be wrong, but I’m convinced there was a palimony suit from a lad. Did I just dream that up? I’ve considered him gay ever since..

  35. The Queen Mary says

    “…the world outside of the closet is so frightening to people in Hollywood that all sorts of insane measures are taken to reinforce the message is that there is something inherently wrong with being gay.” –So true! The worst part is that so many gays in hollywood, both in front and behind the camera, shaped it historically to what it is today and what it will be in the future. In my opinion, they missed the opportunity of having an “almost monopoly” on forming/changing public opinions with their products.

  36. Hamish says

    Interesting that the blog post has been removed.

    Regarding his sexuality: I think it is important that it is an “issue.” He was one of the most powerful people in the industry and it was an open secret. Given the amount of time since his death, the censorship of the article is indicative of the stigma homosexuality is still given in our society. The sad fact is, no one is going to stop watching Wheel simply because the decomposed creates slept with men. It’s a non issue – except in homophobic Hollywood.