Editors Note: We're blogging through We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel.
Merv Griffin premiered his invented game of Wheel of Fortune in 1975 on NBC.
Wheel of Fortune had several pilots, with different hosts and announcers. Chuck Woolery became the first official host, with Susan Stafford as hostess, and Charlie O’Donnell as announcer.
One of Wheel of Fortune’s pilots, Shopper’s Bazaar’ had prizes that included a jade vase, a suede jacket, and a Caribbean Cruise. Wheel of Fortune was named Shopper’s Bazaar for a while before becoming known as what it is called today.
Before 1997, the hostess had to physically turn the letters. White lights were used around the letters to light them up. When the TV show bought a touch screen, the spaces lit up blue.
In 1981, Chuck Woolery quit Wheel of Fortune due to a salary dispute with Merv Griffin, and Pat Sajak took his place.
Susan Stafford remained as hostess for another year, before she realized that she wanted a life other than turning letters. She left in late October, and several women filled in her role until Vanna White was hired on in December. After that, Sajak decided to match his tie to whatever color the dress was she wore.
Season 33 of Wheel of Fortune starts this September, on the 15th.