The 70s gave birth to many things that changed the world – the floppy disk, mobile phone, and Rubik’s cube just to name a few.
In 1975, legendary Television guru Merv Griffin would have a brilliant idea for a new game show. You take the elements of the word game Hangman and you combine them with a giant spinning wheel. When each of the three contestants takes a spin, the wheel lands on either a dollar amount or the dreaded bankrupt space which wipes out their total earnings.
With each spin, contestants get a chance to guess consonants from a puzzling mystery phrase featured on a giant display behind the wheel. Contestants also have the option of ‘buying a vowel’ with a portion of the money they’ve accumulated so far.
Three rounds are played where the contestant that solves each puzzle keeps their monetary earnings. The top winner after the third round goes on to a bonus round where they have the chance of winning a prize package – normally consisting of vacations, cars, and appliances – or a sizable cash prize.
Wheel of Fortune has been a momentous success for 45 years. As of 2019, over 7000 episodes of the iconic game show have been shown. Notably, it is also one the highest-rated shows in syndication to ever be broadcast.
In honor of the shows rich and illustrious history, let’s take a look at some little known facts that unless you are a die-hard fan of the wheel spinning game show, you’re unlikely to be familiar with.
Stick around for the whole video to see who comes up with the puzzles that get used for the show. You will be shocked to learn which crew member comes up with most of the trickiest puzzles.
Facts Verse Presets: 12 Untold Secrets Behind Wheel of Fortune
But before we start spinning wheels with fascinating reveals, make sure you like this video and subscribe to our channel. You can turn on notifications by tapping the bell icon so you can continue to enjoy our fresh new content and videos.
Wheel Of Fortune Really Was Inspired By Hangman
Who hasn’t had a long road trip with their siblings when you were a kid and had to come up with creative ways to keep each other entertained so your parents wouldn’t act on their threat to ‘turn this car around’
There’s only so many times you can ask Dad ‘Are we there yet?’ before he loses it.
Merv Griffin had a similar experience when he was a kid, and he and his sister would always play Hangman to keep themselves busy.
Those games might not have seemed significant to young childhood Merv but years later he would take that same concept and adapt it into a high-stakes game show.
It was in conversations with his staff that they decided to throw in a twist to the whole deal with an addition of a giant roulette-style wheel.
Merv had a strong affinity for wheels like that when he was a child seeing them at casinos and carnivals and such. He knew he needed one in his new game show.
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The Host And Hostess Have Remained The Same Since 1981
And thank goodness for that! Can you imagine Wheel of Fortune without Pat Sajak and Vanna White? That’s like trying to picture Jeopardy without Alex Trebek.
The same argument could probably be made about the Price Is Right, but we’re guessing that everyone feels similar to how we do when we say we miss Bob Barker. No offense Drew Carey, but it’s just not the same.
Before it was Pat and Vanna, however, Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford were the respective host and hostess of the Wheel of Fortune from 1975 to 1981 when they parted ways with the show following salary disputes with the Network and Merv Griffin.
Sajak Used To Be A Weatherman
Yup, he definitely upgraded his career, Not that being a local television weatherman is a bad gig or anything but making the jump into national syndication and becoming the host of one of the most popular TV show’s of all time is a big leap from telling local Los Angeles residents whether it might rain or what the high was going to be on Wednesday.
NBC wasn’t keen on the idea of Sajak being the new host at first. They just weren’t sold on the idea but Griffin sure was. So much so, that he refused to film any more episodes of the show until they caved in and gave him the job.
Vanna White Had Competition
She was actually one of three lovely ladies in consideration for the Hostess role on the show.
Summer Bartholomew – Former Miss USA and Miss California USA crown holder was also really trying to get the job. She briefly would get a chance to fill in for the hostess role too in 1982. Batholomew would go on to be the hostess in the game show Sale of the Century.
Vanna Whites other made competitor was Vicki McCarthy – who was the playmate of the month in the September 1979 issue of Playboy. She went on to find some minor success on Bravo with the show Girlfriend’s Guide To Divorce in addition to authoring a series of guides and self-help books that drew on her knowledge from being a lawyer.
Merv Decided that Vanna White was destined to be the show’s hostess as he was particularly impressed by the way she turned over the letters on the puzzle board.
We’re not going to lie, we like how she turns those letters too. She makes it look good!
The Pat Sajak Show
We all have dreams. In 1989 Pat’s dream was to become a late-night talk show host. Unfortunately, this dream didn’t quite pan out the way that he had hoped it would. The Pat Sajak Show lasted only one season and was canceled in 1990 following pretty dismally low ratings. So it was back to the Wheel Of Fortune for Mr. Sajak.
Exactly where audiences wanted to see him.
The Show Used To Take An Hour To Film
Producer Harry Friedman who got on board with the show in 95, was pretty peeved about it too. After all, the show only airs for 30 minutes. Why should it take double that to film?
The reason why Wheel of Fortune took so long to film was that after each round, the puzzle board had to be manually reset for each new puzzle. This process took roughly 10 minutes for each reset – of which there are 3 required each episode.
In 1997, the production team solved this problem They designed an entirely new puzzle board with touch-sensitive screens that displayed the letters electronically. From that point onward, each episode only took a half-hour to film, and most importantly, Harry Friedman had been appeased.
Jim Thornton Is The Current Announcer
He has been the announcer of the Wheel of Fortune since 2011 when he swapped out for Charlie O’ Donnell who had passed away the year prior. O ‘Donnell had been with the show since 1975.
The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia inducted O ‘Donnell into it’s Hall Of Fame in 2011 to pay him honor for his decades of solid announcing work on television.
After his death, it took several months for Wheel of Fortune to find the right announcer. They even had Jeopardy’s announcer, Johnny Gilbert, do a few episodes before they settled on Jim Thornton who was a longtime veteran of LA radio
Vanna White Is A Fashion Icon
Young women especially have been fascinated with Vanna’s wardrobe for years. She’s constantly shaking things up with a different look nearly every episode. Because of her fashion sensibilities, she has amassed quite a following of women who are especially interested in what she is wearing. This fandom following has been deemed ‘Vannamania’
The Wheel OF Fortune Has A Giant Yellow RV
And they take that recreational vehicle all across the country in search of new contestants that would be a good match for the show. They have embarked on well over 275 search quests and have traveled more than 300,000 miles in search of new faces.
Fans lucky enough to come across the RV get a chance to have an up-close and personal experience of what it is like to be one of the lucky few that get to be on the show. Over the years, over 1,000,000 people have applied for the chance to be on the show.
Wheel Has Jumped Networks And Studios
Initially, the show was taped at NBC studios in Burbank California, but in 1989, they went over to CBS where the show was filmed at CBS Television City studios in Los Angeles. But in 1995 the rights to the show got sold once again back to NBC. Since then they’ve been taping episodes of the iconic game show at Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, California.
The Studio Set Changed A Bunch Over the Years
So originally, the set consisted of a yellow, red and blue color scheme for its backdrop, but when they made the move from NBC to CBS in 89, golden spikes were added to the background decor and an additional score screen was added to the set-up.
A few years later in 1997, the color scheme and decor were dropped and replaced with a special theme that would change every week. In 1998 all this theming and special decorations were replaced with a video wall to make it easier.
April Fools Day!
In 1997, something truly spectacular happened on April Fool’s Day. Alex Trebek from Jeopardy stepped in to be Wheel of Fortunes host for the day.
Guess who the contestants were?
None other than Pat Sajak and Vanna White, who competed for various charities.
The hostess for that episode was Leslie Brown, who just so happens to be Pat Sajak’s wife.
Ever wonder how they come up with all the puzzles? Well, the entire crew contributes to the fun, but one person, in particular, is especially good at coming up with real stumpers.
Vanna White has been an avid fan of crossword puzzles for years. So it’s no surprise that she would be great at coming up with some of the Wheel of Fortunes’ most brain-twisting puzzles.
According to Sajak, White’s puzzles get used on a regular basis.
Well, here we are again at the end of another great video. It’s really crazy to think that Wheel of Fortune has been on TV for so many decades. It’s even crazier how Vanna White looks so amazing after all these years.
Now it’s time to hear from you! Would you rather be a contestant on Wheel of Fortune or Jeopardy? Let us know what you think in the comments section.
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