CHUCK WOOLERY - (Cool, snappy host, January 5, 1975- December 24, 1981)
While Pat Sajak is a very "decent guy" (to quote Ed Grimley) and is one of the best game show hosts on
the air today, ol' Chuckles did an excellent job himself contributing his own down-home Midwestern
folksiness to the show. This Kentuckian (coincidentally, game show legends Tom Kennedy and Jack Narz
also hail from the bluegrass state) didn't really intend to go into game show hosting. He headed over
to California in hopes of starting up a career as a country music singer/songwriter. He even had a stint
as a singer on "Your Hit Parade" in the early 70s as a singer. He also had a role as one of the actors
in the children's show "New Zoo Revue" as Mr. Dingle. Even more interesting, on a 1974 episode of
"Tattletales" he appears with then-wife JoAnne Pflug and is billed as a "singer-songwriter."
Fortunately, for us game show fans, Merv Griffin and really, Lin Bolen convinced Chuck to take the job
as "Wheel of Fortune." According to Woolery, the show was an immediate hit garnering a 40 share in
its first week! And rightfully so...Chuck Woolery was a new breed of host. He never did things perfectly
but he had a whole good sense of humor about himself and the show. He also had a great chemistry with
Susan Stafford as evidenced by his comment to her in an episode from June 20, 1980 episode: "You look
like a Swedish girl, you know?" Sure, he did a fine job at "Scrabble" three years after he left
"Wheel," but "Wheel" will probably become his lost, great work.
What's he up to now?
In November 1999, Chuck landed the job as the host of FOX's prime-time game show, "Greed,"
a show for which I was a researcher and later a writer. And I gotta tell ya, it was kinda
surreal to think that the first production gig I got, I ended up working with somebody whom
I wrote a web page about! (Though I never did bring the web page up.)
And Chuck was still in top form in this big-money quiz where the top prize is over $2 million.
He's still got that knack for being the "everyman" host rooting for the contestants to win.
As he put it during a rehearsal break, he's not giving away his money so he WANTS those contestants
to win the big bucks. This hosting philosophy has been with him since "Wheel." In fact, he admitted
to trying to aim for the $2000 space on the wheel whenever he'd have to spin the wheel during the
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end as "Greed" was pulled off the air in July 2000.
But Chuck quickly came be to the tube as host of TVLand's "Ultimate Fan Search."
Click here to get a load of other Chuck-isms during his "Wheel" tenure.
SUSAN STAFFORD- (Letter turner extrordinaire!, January 5, 1975 - October 22, 1982)
What can I say? Never have I seen a game show hostess who was as much fun to watch as Susan Stafford.
Yes, she may have been a bit spacey, but hey, she had a million times more personality than Vanna White.
Unfortunately, I don't have too much background info on her. From the E-mails that I've received, it
seems that Susan started out as an actress even landing a guest starring role in the NBC detective show,
"Ellery Queen" (1975-76). She also was married for a while to broadcasting pioneer Gordon McLendon,
creator of the Liberty network. [Thanks to Eric Paddon for the background info]
But for all us game show nuts, Susan Stafford will be known as the original "Wheel of Fortune" letter turner.
She had a style all to her own. She would get into the game, unafraid to talk to the contestants or root
Chuck during the final spin to kick off the Speed-up Round. As Brad Francini said, "She was more of a
co-host than a hostess (if that makes sense)." Yes, it does make sense! Susan was no mute floozy who
stood next to prizes and simply smiled and waved goodbye at the end of the show. Heck, Susan got a
Daytime Emmy nomination for "Best Host or Hostess in a Game Show" along with Chuck Woolery in 1978!!
This is unprecented and has never been duplicated since! (Note: Betty White does not count because she
was actually the main host of her show, "Just Men!")
Susan did make a brief comeback in 1986 for a week to subsitute for Vanna White who had to take some
time off for a couple of weeks to mourn the death of her boyfriend. I clearly remember watching this
because I remember my mother telling me that that was Susan Stafford, the original letter turner!
Little did I know then what an important role she had in "Wheel".
What is she up to now?
A lot of rumors have abounded as to what Susan Stafford is up to nowadays. According to Jeff Amdur,
Susan left the show to pursue a graduate degree to begin a career in teaching. Brad Francini says
that he heard that Susan went on to do some charity work for the Peace Corps. I do remember hearing
about this. In fact, I remember seeing Susan on an old "Oprah" talking about this. I think she may
have been involved with the March of Dimes too and also invovled with some missionary work in Third
And chalk it up on the ol' "surreal" board, but I was fortunate enough to meet the lovely Miss Susan
at Wink Martindale's book signing in Studio City.
She is just as sweet and perky as she was during her "Wheel" days!
Check out the Susan-isms page for the many reasons why
Susan Stafford is the hostess with the mostest!