A simple spinning wheel and contestants trying to figure out a word or phrase to win became a favourite tv show of all ages – Wheel of Fortune.
Created by Merv Griffin, this game show was based on the principles of the game Hangman, with contestants spinning a wheel to win the opportunity to solve the puzzle.
Working with his staff, Griffin tested the show several times to fine tune the game, switching the wheel from being displayed vertically to being placed horizontally in front of the players.
Three contestants would compete, and when the show debuted as a daytime program on NBC in January 1975, it was hosted by Chuck Woolery with his lovely colleague Susan Stafford on hand to turn the letters.
In the 1970s, winning participants would use their loot to choose from a room filled with prizes each worth a certain amount, and would often be left with an amount that would gain them the large ceramic dog.
Between 10:30am and noon, North American viewers would get their half hour fix of Wheel of Fortune. By 1980, NBC moved the show from daytime to primetime, compensating for the change in their evening schedule of reducing The David Letterman Show from 90 minutes to 60 minutes.
I loved watching Wheel of Fortune – I would get excited when they would guess the consonants and would always encourage them to choose a vowel. And when the winner would go through the prize room, I always encouraged them to choose other options.
Thanks to syndication and a change of hosts in the 1980s, this game show is now the longest running syndicated game show in America – and still have devoted fans who are excited every time a contestant spins the wheel.