Wheel of Fortune is an American television game show created by Merv Griffin, which premiered in 1975. Contestants compete to solve word puzzles, similar to those used in Hangman, to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel. The show first aired as a replacement for the original version of Jeopardy! Griffin created two different pilot episodes, hosted by Chuck Woolery and Edd Byrnes. Griffin conceived a hangman-style game after recalling long car trips as a child, on which he and his sister would play hangman.
The program began airing nationally on January 6, 1975 on NBC, with Woolery and Susan Stafford hosting and Charlie O'Donnell as the program's announcer. In 1980 and 1981, O'Donnell and Woolery departed from the show and were replaced as announcer and host by Jack Clark and Pat Sajak, respectively. In 1982, Vanna White replaced Stafford, who left the show. The nighttime syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune premiered on September 19, 1983. After Clark died in 1988, M.G. Kelly took over briefly as announcer with O'Donnell returning in 1989. After his return O'Donnell remained as announcer until his own death in 2010, after which Jim Thornton replaced him. Sajak continued to host the daytime version until his departure in 1989 when he left to focus on his late night talk show, The Pat Sajak Show. Upon Sajak's departure from the daytime version, he was replaced by Rolf Benirschke, who was then replaced by Bob Goen when the program switched networks from NBC to CBS later that year. The daytime version moved back to NBC in 1991, but was canceled eight months later.
While retaining most of the elements from the daytime version, the syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune has added many new gameplay elements and is the longest-running syndicated game show in United States television history, with over 5,000 episodes aired. In a 2008 article, TV Guide named Wheel of Fortune as the "top-rated syndicated series."