Wheel of Fortune (1975)

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Wheel of Fortune (1975)
Premiere January 6, 1975
Finale September 20, 1991
Creator Merv Griffin
Host Chuck Woolery (1975–81)
Pat Sajak (1981–89)
Rolf Benirschke (1989)
Bob Goen (1989–91)
Network NBC (1975–89, 1991)
CBS (1989–91)
Style 30-minute game show
Company Merv Griffin Entertainment
(Califon Productions)
Seasons 16
Origin US

Wheel of Fortune (1975–91) is the first incarnation of the popular game show Wheel of Fortune. This version, which featured a handful of hosts, aired on NBC in the daytime, although it aired on CBS from 1989 to 1991. It continued to run after the syndicated version ran.



Three players face a game board with a hidden word puzzle displayed in lighted trilons of letters. The first player spins a wheel loaded with money denominations. Where the wheel stops is what the letter the player selects is worth (consonants only). If the selected letter is not on the board, the next player gets a turn. Players' turns continue as long as he/she selects letters on the board. Players may buy vowels, for $250, to assist. The wheel contains spaces such as "Bankrupt" (player loses all money in the round and his/her turn) and "Lose A Turn" (turn only), as well as "Free Spin". The player solving the puzzle wins the money he/she scored.

In the early days, up to the mid 90s, players used their cash winnings to buy prizes shown on the stage for their retail values, with any remaining money either on a gift certificate or on account (to be used later, if he/she wins another puzzle). Since then, contestants played for money only. The early shows didn't have a bonus game; that was later employed by having the day's top winner selecting five consonants and one vowel on a final puzzle. Letter selected will appear and the player wins a prize of his/her choosing by solving the puzzle.

The show was developed in 1974 as "Shopper's Bazaar" and the host for it was Edd Byrnes, who played Kookie on the ABC show 77 Sunset Strip. But when the producers spotted Byrnes pacing backstage trying to recite the alphabet, they sought out another host, with Chuck Woolery getting the job. Pat Sajak was hired as host in 1981, and Vanna White came along in 1982. The show expanded to an hour on December 11, 1975 in light of the success of The Price Is Right on CBS expanding to an hour, but it went back to a half hour on January 19, 1976.

Wheel ran on NBC to June 30, 1989, losing steam after Pat Sajak left the daytime show that January to start his own late night talk show on CBS (he was replaced by San Diego Chargers placekicker Rolf Benirschke). Two weeks after the last NBC show, the show resurfaced on CBS with Bob Goen as the new host. Goen remained host when the show returned to NBC on January 14, 1991.


Person Role Duration
Main Cast
Chuck Woolery Host 1 2 3 4 5 6
Pat Sajak 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Rolf Benirschke 14
Bob Goen 15 16
Susan Stafford Hostess 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Vanna White 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Charlie O'Donnell Announcer 1 2 3 4 5 15 16
Jack Clark 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
M.G. Kelly 14

In Depth

DVD Releases

There has not been a DVD release for this show.

External Sites