Wheel of Fortune is one of the most iconic and enduring game shows in American television history. For 40 years, millions of viewers have tuned in to watch contestants spin the giant wheel, solve word puzzles and win cash and prizes. The show was created by television legend Merv Griffin, who also created Jeopardy! And many other popular shows. He combined Hangman and roulette. Contestants would guess letters to reveal a hidden phrase and spin a wheel to determine their earnings.
He pitched the idea to NBC, who agreed to air it as a daytime show in 1975. The original host was Chuck Woolery, who was joined by Susan Stafford as the letter-turner. The show was an instant hit, attracting a large and loyal audience.
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The dynamic duo
In 1981, Woolery left the show over a salary dispute and was replaced by Pat Sajak, a former weatherman and radio personality. Sajak brought his charm and wit to the show, and soon became a household name. In 1982, Stafford also left the show and was replaced by Vanna White, a former model and actress. White quickly became a fan favorite, with her dazzling dresses and graceful gestures. Sajak and White formed great chemistry and friendship, and have co-hosted the show ever since.
The Prime Time Success
In 1983, Wheel of Fortune made history by becoming the first syndicated game show to air in prime time. The nighttime version debuted on September 19, 1983, with Sajak and White as hosts. The show was a huge success, reaching millions of viewers across the country. The show also introduced some upcoming features, such as the Bonus Round. This is where contestants can win additional prizes by solving one final puzzle. The show also added more categories, such as Before & After, Same Name, Rhyme Time and many more.
The Evolution of the Wheel of Fortune
Over the years, Wheel of Fortune has undergone some changes and innovations, such as adding new elements to the wheel (like Bankrupt, Lose a Turn, Free Play and Express), introducing special themed weeks (like Disney Week, Celebrity Week and Teacher’s Week), upgrading the set and technology (such as replacing the manual board with touch screens and adding online features), and offering bigger and better prizes (such as cars, trips, gift cards and even $1 million). The show has also celebrated some special occasions, such as its 25th anniversary in 2008, its 30th anniversary in 2013 and its 7,000th episode in 2019.
Wheel of Fortune: A TV Classic That Keeps Spinning
For 40 years, Wheel of Fortune has been a favorite TV show for many people. It is fun and exciting to watch the contestants spin the wheel, guess the letters, and solve the puzzles. The show also teaches us interesting things and makes us curious about different places and cultures. The show changes and adapts to the times, using new technologies and trends, and reaching wider audiences and markets. But the show also stays true to its family-friendly, educational and inspirational values.
There are some exciting plans for the future of the show. Sajak is ready to leave and his co-host White will work with Seacrest, a famous TV personality. Seacrest is replacing longtime host Pat Sajak and becoming “Wheel’s” new host, and White has extended her contract for two years.