Sharon Tate takes Merv Griffin on a tour of swinging London’s Carnaby Street, in August 1966.
A poignant piece of TV history capturing much of the innocence, idealism, and happiness that seemed to infuse the sixties. All of which is usurped by our grim knowledge of what happened to Sharon Tate only a few years later.
Another great piece of rock history from The Merv Griffin Show. Debbie Harry and Chris Stein adapt to the role of talk show guests with the ease of the cool New Yorkers they are. And this cements Merv’s place in the Hipster Hall Of Fame. Totally.
It’s 1980 and Blondie has gone from Bowery punks to pop stars. You can tell Harry and Stein are struggling a bit with the whole fame thing.
And this is what he turned into? What a complete shock…
So although it’s fairly well-known what a crazy motherfucker Phil Spector is, it’s still somewhat surprising to see that he never even went a little bit out of his way to at least try to affect an air of bare minimum congeniality, or to be charming, or attempt to appear SANE, even when he was on television. From the get-go, he’s hostile to Merv (how can you be hostile to Merv?) and becomes increasingly irritated and paranoid throughout the interview.
By the time Spector alludes to hitting Merv and a very unimpressed and composed Eartha Kitt—who hits him hard with her well-delivered Socrates quip—the audience is hissing and booing him.
Merv Griffin was always known for having slightly more outre guests than most of the other daytime talkshows of his era, but this October 6, 1965 interview with a nearly mute Andy Warhol and a much more talkative Edie Sedgwick must’ve been quite perplexing to American housewives when it originally aired.
Without getting into the “truthiness” of the Lutz’s claims, and knowing this was obviously great publicity for the movie, they remind me of how seriously the television landscape back then treated matters of the occult and the supernatural.
In fact, as a kid growing up in the ‘70s, that’s exactly what made that decade, for me, feel so terrifying: even adults weren’t taking this stuff lightly! Today there’s Ghost Hunters, sure, but that’s a self-contained show—a self-contained world. And I can’t quite imagine the ladies of The View devoting an entire hour to a supposedly haunted house on Long Island.
As reads go, I remember Jay Anson’s Amityville Horror book being spooky and terrifying. To my young mind, the demonic visitations that plagued the Lutz family felt entirely plausible. Hell, even the cover announced it as “a true story.” Not even “based on,” just true. And it was happening to adults, authority figures—people in charge! Like I said: spooky and terrifying.
But between In Search Of…, Night Gallery, and Ghost Story (both Sebastian Cabot‘s and Peter Straub‘s) that’s largely how I remember the ‘70s, anyway: far more spooky and terrifying than the decades that followed it. And I don’t think this was entirely due to my young age, or some particular rise in darker shit going down.
The likelier culprit was that decade’s proximity to the one that preceded it: the nervous breakdown fallout from the ‘60s was still seeping and spilling under the floorboards of the ‘70s’ pop cultural landscape.
George and Kathy Lutz show up on Merv Griffin in Part IV. Links to the remainder of the show follow below:
The Amityville Gang Does Merv Griffin, Part: I, II, III, V