In a town full of mentors, Merv Griffin was an original.

When he passed away Sunday night at the age of 82, he left behind a legendary career as a world-renowned entertainer, real-estate mogul and beloved host.

Merv began his career as a $100 a week Big Band singer before becoming a star-maker who sat down with everyone on "The Merv Griffin Show," from presidents to princes and superstars.

Merv sat down with "Extra" last year in his last interview with us before succumbing to prostate cancer, and he said he always knew a star when he saw one.

When Merv chatted with a young Tom Cruise, he said of the star, "Just pure magic. That energy and wanting to have fun and everything else."

Merv also had some fun with "Extra" when he made a candid confession about plastic surgery!

"I have," he admitted. "I've never told this before because no one ever asked me!"

With a smile he added, "I had a waddle here that I hated because sometimes in a big wind it would swing back and forth."

That's the Merv most people remember - laughing his way through life with an open heart as big as his billion-dollar bank account.

Merv built a business empire by creating two of the most successful shows of all time: "Jeopardy" and "Wheel of Fortune."

It allowed Merv to live like a king at his spectacular 250-acre ranch in La Quinta, Calif., where he raised and trained Arabian horses.

Merv continued to build his media empire until the end, producing a new game show called "Crossword," which was set to debut his fall.

As all of Hollywood mourns today, Merv's close friend, "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajak, says it best: "The conversation in heaven has gotten a lot more lively."

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