Eurweb.com features an editorial by Ronald Bookman, who worked with Merv Griffin to spearhead the launch of the telethon. He was hired by UNCF to create a brand awareness and to generate revenue for the fund. The goal was to create a telethon similar to the successful Jerry Lewis telethon that raised funds for muscular dystrophy research.
He says of his encounter with Mr. Griffin: "I met with Merv Griffin in Hollywood and after a bout of nervousness on my part asked him if he would appear in this inaugural UNCF telethon. Moreover, I explained that his appearance would assist the overall success of a show that at that juncture had no tangible presence. To my immediate astonishment, he readily agreed. He never asked for nor sought a fee for his appearance."
Not only did Merv Griffin appear on the inaugural show, he offered his studio and state of the art production facilities to tape the show.
Mr. Bookman says: "Were it not for his pioneering effort along with a galaxy of stars and volunteers who gave tirelessly of their energies and valuable time, perhaps the UNCF Telethon that has become an annual fixture and has raised millions of dollars would never have happened. And that would have been a tragic loss to our historical black colleges and universities."
Read the editorial here.