Sunday, January 6, 2008

Anniversary of Wheel of Fortune Debut

January 6 marks the 33rd anniversary of the debut of "Wheel of Fortune". Premiering as part of NBC's daytime lineup back in 1975, the show originally featured Chuck Woolery as host and Susan Stafford as the letter turner. Due to a salary dispute, Chuck left in 1981 and was replaced by Pat Sajak (Vanna White took over for Susan a year later). Pat and Vanna have been the only host/hostess combo on the syndicated nighttime version (which began in 1983). When Pat left the daytime version in his bid to replace Johnny as the King of Late Night TV, he was succeeded by former NFL kicker Rolf Benirschke (1989) and Bob Goen (1989-1991).

One of the appeals of "Wheel of Fortune" is that you don't have to be a genius to play along. We all have sat at home and said to ourselves or out loud something like, "I can't believe that moron still doesn't know the puzzle! Why are they buying a vowel?!"

The producers of the show have also done a good job of keeping things fresh by making changes over the years. I think one of their smartest moves was switching to the play-for-cash format in 1987. Up until then, the winner of a round would use their cash winnings to shop for prizes that were displayed in the studio. Not only did the "shopping round" slow things down, but some of that shit looked like it came from Ralph Furley's apartment.

Although I don't watch "Wheel" as much as I used to, I still catch it on occasion. Both Pat (now 61) and Vanna (she'll be 51 in February) have held up nicely. It's not fair, but I have a feeling that if Vanna doesn't quit, she'll eventually be eased out in favor of a "fresh face". Don't shoot the messenger: we all know that hostesses have a shorter shelf life than their male counterparts... just ask an ex-Barker's Beauty. Don't shed too many tears for Vanna if she is shown the door. She's had a helluva run turning/touching letters for a living.

Below are clips from "Wheel of Fortune" over the years, including one from the Chuck and Susan era. As I said earlier, you don't have to be a genius to play "Wheel of Fortune". However, (as you will see from the 2nd clip), you do need to know how to spell.

9 comments:

Holly Smith said...

Am I the only one still watching this show? I've been known to solve a puzzle before any letters were revealed (just with the category). Of course, like you said, you don't have to be smart to solve hangman puzzles. And, the Jeopardy folks won't be knocking down my door anytime soon...

www.mamapj.com

X. Dell said...

I remember when Rolf Benirschke, the placekicker for the San Diego Chargers, was the host of the show.

Malcolm said...

Holly: Believe it or not, "Wheel of Fortune" is still the top-rated syndicated show. I don't see that changing anytime soon.

To solve a puzzle before any letters are revealed does take some brains in my opinion... if I was wearing one, I would take my hat off to you.

X. Dell: When Rolf took over hosting duties I said, "He used to be the kicker for the San Diego Chargers". I guess it wasn't a really good experience for him. According to Wikipedia, he doesn't even like talking about the time he spent hosting the show.

pjazzypar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Candy Minx said...

Wow, I couldn't believe Sajak was in his 60's. He filled in for Regis yeasterday on morning show and Ialways find hishumor in that setting pretty funny. Actually, because of that I watched his night time talk show while it lasted.

I found much of the history really interesting. I remember one time (again on Regis) Vanna said it only takes them something like 5 working days a year to make the show!!! She has the best job!

I am not a gambler or slots person...but I admit to enjoying the very new version of the slots game WOF. I was stuck in a boring town last yearand that game in the small town casino9a very nice casino actually in Canada) saved my sanity...won some money felt guilty and gave it back...

Malcolm said...

Candy: When Vanna finally does step down/gets replaced, I am tempted to apply for the job. I think I can handle the training program where I learn how to touch letters and clap incessantly.

That slots game sounds like fun. I hope it wasn't too much money that you gave back. :-)

The Rock Chick said...

I love Wheel of Fortune especially for the reason you stated...the people who can't spell or figure out what it is....still cracks me up!

Love the clips! You're right about the shopping thing, too. That was bad--that stuff wasn't attractive even back then and the prices OMG! WAY high even by today's standards...

Jessica

Abagale said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Margaret

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Malcolm said...

Rock Chick: It's funny because on a rare occasion, I recently watched "Wheel of Fortune" and a player had nearly all the letters for the puzzle revealed and blew it big time. I wish I could remember what the word was, but I groaned when the contestant tanked.

Abagale: Thanks for reading my blog and commenting for the first time. I look forward to your continued visits and comments.

 
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