I have loved Wheel of Fortune since it debuted in 1975 with Chuck Woolery as host and Susan Stafford as hostess. Now Pat Sajak and Vanna White serve similar roles.

Wheel of Fortune


I watched Wheel when the letters actually had to be turned
instead of turned on and when you were required to shop with your
winnings instead of just banking the cash and that makes the game
faster and richer for the contestants.

The game has changed in the last
30 years in many good ways. The prizes are better, the puzzles are more
creative. “RSTLNE” is given you to in the final puzzle and you then get
to add three more consonants and another vowel — and that adds great
pressure and intrigue to the endgame. The one thing that has never
changed is the sound of the wheel as it clackity-clacks between $10,000
mystery prizes and bankruptcies.

The sound of the spinning of the wheel
of the Wheel of Fortune
is as natural and recognizable as my own heartbeat.
Pat Sajak — who never should have had his excellent CBS late-night
show cancelled — is always funny and charming.

You know after a hard
day of work Pat will be there to bump up your spirits with a bad pun or
a disconnected aside.
Vanna White — who fought hard a few years ago not to be forcibly
retired from the show because of her advancing age — has sometimes
been on the blunt end of mean jokes from comedians who do not
understand the delight of the woman or her show, but Vanna has always
endured and demurred and sustained a career as she pokily reveals the
letters in the puzzle.

I enjoy Wheel more than Jeopardy because I can let the Wheel
wash over me without having to be exactly correct in my guessing.

Is it
a sign of a genius mind or of a terrible player that I can always seem
to fit three solutions into the Wheel puzzles when the actual
contestants are only allowed to give one? On a cold and wintry day in
New Jersey like today where you can’t see out the windows because a
blizzard is embedding itself in the screen and 14 inches of white stuff
is sleeping — and still falling — right outside your door, seeking
warmth and comfort in memories as near as your local television creates
an inner glow that cannot be condemned or collapsed by Mother Nature’s
current freezing blanket.

26 Comments

  1. Outside of family and some friends there isn’t much I have that beats 30 years. Nothing on television, either other than Wheel and maybe a Soap Opera or two. It’s interesting when the longevity in your life is measured in television shows.

  2. Right, soos!
    Television relationships are now measured in decades instead of years. There are few current shows that will last 30 years from this point on — the best sitcoms and dramas rarely last for more than 10-12 years. Soap Operas and game shows are the long-term common touchstones for American television watching now.

  3. Did you see the Mad TV parody of “Wheel of Fortune” on last night’s repeat?
    Pamela Anderson was the object of Pat Sajak’s affection to the determent of the other players and the game. In the final scene, Pamela Anderson ended up in the middle of the spinning wheel after the Pat Sajak character had fixed the game in her favor.
    When I go to the YMCA, there is a hard-core “Wheel of Fortune” following. There are various TV sets that people watch while riding exercise bikes and running on treadmills. When it is time for the show, someone always tunes one of the televisions to the “Wheel” channel. Those watching also call out the answers while working out.

  4. Hi Chris!
    No, I missed it! Grr! I remember seeing the promo, thinking I needed to watch it and then forgetting about it entirely until I read your comment. It sounds funny. I’m sorry I missed it!
    I love it you can exercise to Wheel. What a great show!
    😀

  5. Vanna White appeared in her birthday suit in a 1985 issue of Playboy Magazine. How could they even think of losing her? A lot of people in the 80’s tuned in just to see her!
    Oh, how vicious the entertainment industry in america can be towards older people. See as a contrast England, where you have entire programs with older casts. Even the great soap operas Coronation Street and Eastenders have great older people presence – William Roache, MBE, has played the character of Ken Barlow from the very first broadcast of Coronation Street in 1960!

  6. Hi Gordon —
    I agree Vanna is as beautiful now as she was in 1985. She has warmth and a charm that pulses from her and I am so glad she made noise when the producers of Wheel were trying to retire her out to a distant pasture.
    America lives on the image of youth. I think wrinkles and greying hair are a natural part of the process of growing older — but those are fast becoming the marks of the out-of-touch. You have less respect, not more, when you look your age.
    In 10 years medical science will eradicate wrinkles and saggy bodies and silver hair and we’ll all look 18 years old for the next 100 years.
    Then, one day, wrinkled will be “back in” and we’ll have to genetically modify our genetic modification to “look old” again to be hip again.

  7. Hello My Izzy!
    Yeah, shopping was a real pain to watch — especially if the person won big. They had to spend every last dollar to get down below $100 and then they could have “the rest on a gift certificate.” It became so silly that Chuck Woolery took to apologizing to the contestant who had to spend $350 on a wicker basket.

  8. David, as a Jeopardy! veteran (Tournament of Champions Semi-Finalist, 1988; participant and Round One winner in the 2005 Ultimate Tournament of Champions), I’m crushed that you have deserted to the dark side.
    Please come back from the seductive hell of mindless puzzling, spinning wheels, jumping, screaming, clapping, and the inexplicable appeal of Vanna White. Join us in the light of answers, questions, encyclopedic knowledge, and the urbane charm of Alex Trebek.
    If you don’t turn back now, before you know it, you’ll be sucked into another week of Deal or No Deal.
    And you don’t want that, now do you?

  9. Hi SwanShadow —
    I’m not sure if you’re kidding about your Jeopardy! pedigree or not — but you’re right!
    I should hush up about my Wheel of Fortune love and pretend to be into Jeopardy! even though the show has never been the same since Alex Trebek shaved off his moustache!
    Deal or No Deal is astonishingly addictive in a “let me stand and watch you play a slot machine” kind of way.

  10. Michael!
    Fantastic news about your Jeopardy performance! Love that link you provided! You have to be quick smart and cunning to win that game and the fact you did so well speaks volumes about your ability to bring all aspects of your life together in a concentrated and powerful force!
    Now that I have a personal connection with Jeopardy and not with Wheel — all because of you — I am going back to and loving Jeopardy instead!
    Alex is trying too hard to be hepcat and young. It’s okay to be older and respected! Looking your age doesn’t mean you have to act your age.
    😀