1 9 7 5 – Current (USA)
1 9 8 8 – 2 0 0 1 (UK)
1 9 8 1 – 2 0 0 8 (Australia)
This long-running and internationally popular gameshow – created and produced by Merv Griffin – couldn’t be more straightforward.
A line of blanks, which represent the letters in a famous name, place or event, is displayed. One of three players spins a large wheel that pinpoints an amount of money and suggests a letter of the alphabet that might be contained in the mystery phrase.
If the letter is contained in the phrase, it is revealed in its appropriate position and the player receives the chance to identify the phrase. If the player is stumped they spin again and suggest another letter (each correct letter awards the player the money pinpointed by the wheel).
When an incorrect letter is suggested (or the player lands on ‘Bankrupt’ or ‘Lose a Turn’) the next player receives a turn, and the game continues in this manner until the phrase is identified.
The player with the highest cash score is the winner and receives the money they have accumulated.
Originally this money was used by the player to purchase merchandise gifts from a series of showcases that were displayed on stage.
This was later changed to the player keeping the winnings and competing in a bonus round to guess a mystery phrase within 10 seconds for additional cash or a car.
The series aired on NBC from 1975 to 1982 with the syndicated version beginning in 1982.
Pat Sajak (who began in 1981) is the host most associated with the show in the US, along with Vanna White, who turned over the letters and wore a new outfit for each programme.
Michael Miles imported the American format to British television in 1969 and dusted off his chums from Take Your Pick, Bob Danvers Walker, Alec Dane, and Harold Smart at the organ.
In 1981, Australian game show entrepreneur Reg Grundy purchased the rights and created a faithful reproduction of the American series, as he had done with many other game shows. The original host was Ernie Sigley until he defected to the Nine Network in 1984.
Sigley was replaced by long-term Australian host John Burgess (pictured below), who had been one of the country’s first professional ten-pin bowlers before going on to become Australia’s longest-serving game show host.
In 1996, John Burgess was sacked unceremoniously as host after spinning the wheel for 12 years and replaced by Tony Barber.
Adriana Xenides co-hosted the Australian version of Wheel Of Fortune for 18 years. The Argentinean-born beauty first appeared on the popular game show at the age of 22.
In June 2010 she was admitted to Liverpool hospital in Sydney with a stomach complaint. She died on 7 June 2010 during intestinal surgery.
Chuck Woolery (1975 – 1981)
Pat Sajak (1981 – 1989)
Rolf Benirschke (1989)
Bob Goen (1989–91)
Susan Stafford (1975 – 1982)
Vanna White (1982 – 1991)
Nicky Campbell (1988 – 1996)
Bradley Walsh (1997)
John Leslie (1998 – 2001)
Angela Ekaette (1988)
Carol Smillie (1989 – 1994)
Jenny Powell (1995 – 2001)
Ernie Sigley (1981 – 1984)
John Burgess (1985 – 1996)
Tony Barber (1996)
Rob Elliott (1997 – 2003)
Barbie Rogers (1961)
Adriana Xenides (1981 – 1996, 1997 – 1999)
Kerrie Friend (1996 – 1997)
Sophie Falkiner (1999 – 2005)