The entertainer, talk-show host and mogul has died. (One story is here.) A couple of Merv encounters, after the jump ...
Like a lot of TV addicts, I watched Merv some on TV -- on his late-night show for CBS, on his syndicated program. Of course, I also watched -- and loved -- the "SCTV" parodies of Merv. But I also crossed paths with the man here and there.
Once was back in my Schenectady days; he owned a radio station in the area and he passed through one time, which was enough of an occasion to merit a lunch and press conference. The main thing I remember about the press conference is how in command Merv was. A lectern had been set up for him to stand behind at the press conference; he would have none of it, instead standing near a table. However flattering and cheery he may have been on the air, he was still a shrewd businessman; this was business, and he did it his way.
The other encounter was in more recent years. Merv had produced a new version of "Dance Fever," and he was at a press conference with the host and some of the celebs associated with the show. Only it wasn't quite a press conference. It was a mini-version of Merv's old TV show; he was chatting up the other panelists.
I am sure some questions got asked here and there, but my larger impression is of Merv in conversation, having a grand old time with the other people on the stage. For all his millions, for all the impact (for all the people who have turned to a companion and said, "You need to put that in the form of a question"!), Merv was probably happiest when he found a way to entertain himself -- and to translate it into entertainment for other people.