I mentioned yesterday that in addition to hosting an array of glitzy show-biz guest, Merv Griffin also hosted his share of important and controversial guests. One of them was Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who appeared on Merv’s show in 1967. I had no idea that this interview existed when I stumbled upon it on Youtube during my deep dive into all things Merv. King is, as you would expect, distinguished and mesmerizing in his calm but powerfully committed manner. Merv’s demeanor and questioning is thoughtful and sincere–two traits that Merv rarely gets credit for (unfairly). Note that this show preceded the ‘Tonight Show’ week in 1968 when Johnny Carson stepped aside to have Harry Belafonte serve as guest host for a week. King was a guest during that week after much network hand-wringing. (Purportedly when Belafonte told the network King had agreed to be interviewed the network exec said ‘Fine, but he’s not getting into that civil rights stuff, is he?’ Belafonte answered, ‘No, he’s going to discuss the Opera”, thereby putting an end to that discussion). Merv got their first though–and the above ten plus minutes is, inarguably, TV history.


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