‘Wheel of Fortune’ Originally Had a Very Different Name

by Madison Miller

“Wheel of Fortune” is a classic game show that challenges contestants to spin a wheel and slowly figure out a word puzzle.

It’s hard to imagine the longstanding trademark show with any other name besides “Wheel of Fortune.” The gigantic spinning wheel is quite literally the focal point of the show. Then contestants slowly build a fortune as they spin it and correctly guess the word puzzles. “Wheel” and “Fortune” are pretty good descriptors.

While the name is generally perfect, it wasn’t always the name of the game show.

Original Name of ‘Wheel of Fortune’

The original way “Wheel of Fortune” was played was quite different than how it’s played now.

According to World Strides, before players would earn fake money that they then could use toward prizes shown on the set. It was similar to what “The Price is Right” had contestants do. At the time, the show was called “Shoppers Bazaar.”

After the structure of the show was switched to real cash prizes, the name did not at all fit. This is how it eventually became “Wheel of Fortune.”

Now the 2,400-pound spinning wheel is the center of attention in the name.

History of ‘Wheel of Fortune’

The show had a lot of adapting and work to do before it would become one of the highest-rated shows on syndicated television.

According to Paley Matters, originally the show was created by Merv Griffin who based it on his childhood spent playing Hangman with his sister during long car trips. The idea of a roulette-wheel was added to make the game more interesting. The wheel is supposed to be similar to the ones seen in casinos.

There have been two spin-off versions of the show as well. “Wheel 2000” featured child contestants. Then “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” began airing as of January 7, 2021.

The original host of the show was Chuck Woolery from 1975 to 1981. At the time Pat Sajak, the current host, was actually a local weatherman for NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate.

Vanna White and Vannamania

When Pat Sajak became the host, Vanna White joined him as the co-host of the show. The two exchange fun and witty banter and she gradually reveals letters on the puzzle board.

Vanna White is an incredibly important part of the show. She is known for wearing a different dress every single night and bringing in a huge demographic of females to the show.

According to Chicago Tribune, fans were so obsessed in the ’80s and ’90s that something called “Vannamania” was a thing. It was when fans had obsessed and made Vanna White into a full-blown icon of the time.

She graced the cover of countless magazine covers and had become an icon and role model to young women.

‘I never understood it, and I still don`t. All I can guess is that it was the fans who watch and enjoy the show. They`re so loyal,” White said in a 1992 interview.

While her massive and intense fan-following has dwindled,’ it’s still an important part of the show’s past.