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An incomplete timeline for the daytime Wheel of Fortune, which will likely never be complete for reasons listed below. As daytime did not use seasons, and since the show debuted in January, this timeline is divided by year. For the nighttime version, see Wheel of Fortune timeline (syndicated).

Due to practices of the era and Merv Griffin Productions, most episodes from 1975-85 were destroyed or recorded over; a list of what we know to survive is here. Further, Game Show Network {henceforth referred to as GSN} has only aired three daytime episodes. As a result of these, some information comes from recollections and print articles.

Pilots (1973-74)Edit

1973Edit

September 1973:
ShoppersBazaarLogo

The beginning of the beginning.

  • Sometime this month (the UCLA Film & Television Archive lists a date of October 8), the Shopper's Bazaar pilot is taped for NBC by request of Lin Bolen to Merv. The very first attempt at the format, it is markedly different from the eventual series in numerous ways:
    • The show is hosted by Chuck Woolery, with announcer Mike Lawrence. Two female models are also present (one Caucasian, the other African-American), but they do not appear after the opening segment and are not listed in the credits; the latter is believed to be Harriet, a model who appeared in the earliest nighttime episodes of The New Price Is Right the previous year.
    • Bill Carruthers is both producer and director.
    • The main theme is an instrumental version of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" (1968), by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman. The cue used for commercial outros and the post-Round 4 prize tally is an instrumental version of "Spinning Wheel" by Blood, Sweat & Tears (released in 1969).
    • The Wheel, based heavily on those used in various casinos, is vertical and mechanical with 30 wedges. It is not entirely certain who designed it: while Spencer Davies is credited as Art Director, many later articles credit Ed Flesh.
      ShoppersBazaarRound3Wheel

      Rounds 3-4 Wheel.

      • The Wheel has two Lose A Turn wedges (with two more added for Rounds 3-4) plus one each of Buy A Vowel, Free Spin, Free Vowel, and Your Own Clue. Cash amounts range from $0 to $500 (in Rounds 1-2) or $1,000 (Rounds 3-4).
      • Landing on Free Spin gives that player a thin white disc with "Free Spin" in black on a yellow background, which may be turned in if that player calls a wrong letter or lands on Lose A Turn.
      • Despite the presence of Buy A Vowel, contestants may buy vowels at their discretion for $250.
      • The Wheel is halted by Chuck pressing a button once the player in control yells "Stop the Wheel!", which makes the arrow above the Wheel come into contact with the spokes (although the Wheel occasionally resumes spinning almost immediately after stopping).
      • Presumably to better show the general gameplay, the layout used for the opening segment (see below) has no special spaces, and the values range from $50 to $450 in multiples of $50.
        ShoppersBazaarPuzzleBoard
    • The puzzle board is brown, with three rows of 15 spaces each and letters (in the Hopkins font, also used for the logo) revealed by pull-cards, with a staff member clearly visible behind it; a fourth row serves to denote letters that are called but not in the puzzle, referred to here as the "Wrong Letter Board" in lieu of an official name.
      • Correct and incorrect letters are denoted by an electronic-sounding bell and buzzer; the latter is also used for Lose A Turn, while a set of six bells notifies the players when only vowels remain. The player who solves the puzzle also starts the next round.
        ShoppersBazaarWideSetShot
    • Only three categories are used: Person, Place, and Thing. While Chuck brings this up at the start of each round, the specific category is only given through Your Own Clue.
    • The set resembles an antique store, with the prizes strewn about along with other items (including picture frames on the back walls) and wood paneling. Chuck's area is a thin podium with an angled surface. The contestants, all female, sit at individual chairs behind a short table (a single three-cushion couch during the opening segment). The table itself has a white rotary phone on top, which is used for Your Own Clue.
    • The opening begins with a close-up of the Shopper's Bazaar logo as Lawrence says "You are at the Shopper's Bazaar. These ladies [Marilyn, Dawn, and Maureen] have been shopping and selecting gifts from our boutique to play for in our game today." The contestants are introduced one at a time, and Lawrence gives a brief description of the three prizes she has selected followed by her grand total; following this, Chuck asks her to stop the Wheel, and once it does she picks a consonant for the Round 1 puzzle.
      • The process repeats with the other two players, with the back of the set splitting apart (and the logo raising up) to reveal Maureen's last choice: a 1974 Pontiac Firebird. After the third letter call, Lawrence says "That's how our game is played! And now, here is the host of the Shopper's Bazaar: Chuck Woolery!"
        Vlcsnap-00008

        The "Accounting Department".

    • Prizes and contestant winnings are handled by an "Accounting Department", an offstage board of three columns with four squares each which lists the three prizes each contestant chose before the taping and their values; below these cards are flip displays showing how much that player has earned toward winning it, while above the top prize is each player's name and the total value of their prizes. While all three players' money carries over from round to round, with winnings being applied to the next prize once one is covered, a contestant can only "bank" the money if she solves a puzzle; should she do so and have enough to buy a prize, she wins it (a star appears on the far right of that prize's flip display, and the square itself is lit up). The board is shown on-camera after each round to update the scores.
      • Contestants who do not win any prizes receive a Magnavox black-and-white TV as a consolation prize.
    • The winner (determined by how many prizes she wins, not how much money she accumulates) plays a bonus puzzle called "Shopper's Special": the player is shown all vowels in the puzzle (also the name of the prize she is playing for), then has 30 seconds to give one correct consonant and subsequently solve the puzzle. The timer cue is Merv's "A Time For Tony", cued up at the 1:20 mark (appropriately, a ticking section). An unknown cue is used while the bonus prize is described.
      MervGriffinProdslogo1973
    • The credits, also in the Hopkins font, scroll vertically with the name in all-caps below their credit. The credit roll ends with the Merv Griffin Productions logo, albeit an entirely new design rather than the one then in use on Jeopardy!: a transparent white vertical rectangle with rounded corners, containing a drawing of a griffin over "MERV GRIFFIN productions", which scrolls up at the end of the credits over the spinning Wheel for the last few seconds. This version, also used on the subsequent two pilots, becomes the company's main logo in 1975 and remains (with minor adjustments) through November 25, 1983; the griffin itself is retained until June 1994.
    • There are no fee plugs, sponsor lists, eligibility disclaimers, or wardrobe credits.
  • On the pilot itself:
    1973PilotSlate
    ShoppersBazaarR3SetComposite

    Gameplay.

    ShoppersBazaarColor
    • In a departure from normal practice, the slate (a piece of poster board held by a stagehand in front of the on-set refrigerator/freezer combo) does not use a recording date, only saying "Shopper's Bazaar Pilot Show #1" with the show's title in quotation marks. It is very likely that there were no subsequent tapings, as explained below.
    • The very first puzzle is HENRY KISSINGER, who was sworn in as Secretary of State on September 22, 1973; this would suggest that Bazaar was taped within a few days of the event.
    • The first wedge landed on is $100, and the first letter revealed is S. The first "dud" is T, which does not appear in any of the puzzles.
    • As Maureen is introduced in the opening, she is shown next to a clock displaying a time of 6:40.
    • The first vowel bought is I, by Marilyn in Round 1; however, only $150 is deducted from her score.
    • During Round 2, as Maureen debates over what to do, Chuck says "Quickly, or we'll be into Search for Tomorrow." despite the fact that it airs on CBS at this point (although it moves to NBC in March 1982). Amusingly, one player says "Search for Tomorrow?" a few seconds after Maureen opts to stop the Wheel, to which Chuck replies "I don't know."
      • Chuck's comment may also be an indirect reference to the fact this is a pilot, since pilots by their very nature are on a "search for tomorrow" (going to series, thus having a proper "tomorrow") and game shows which do multiple pilots tend to not have continuity between them, including Wheel itself (one known exception is the 1973 Match Game, where Pilot B continued directly from Pilot A).
    • Marilyn lands on Free Spin in Round 3, but continually opts to save it. She ends up losing the game.
    • After the Round 4 puzzle is solved, the stagehand behind the puzzle board accidentally pulls up the last letter card while revealing it.
    • Lose A Turn and Free Vowel are hit four times each. Interestingly, Buy A Vowel is not hit.
    • Although $0 is hit three times, no correct letters are called for that amount.
    • Following the Shopper's Special, Chuck says that there will be three new players "tomorrow". Papers detailing the Bazaar format mention returning champions, although it is not certain whether this element was dropped by the time of taping or simply only applied if the winner lost the Shopper's Special.
  • When shown to test audiences, the response is that of unenthusiasm: they do not understand the gameplay nor why players have to buy vowels, cannot see the puzzle board, and call the game "very slow" and "not challenging". The viewpoint is shared by Bolen (who called Bazaar "old-fashioned", particularly in regard to the set) and Griffin (who simply said that "Everything about it was wrong."). A further problem is that discounting the slate, the pilot runs a staggering 30½ minutes, and there is no indication that the show was intended for anything larger than a half-hour timeslot.
    • Given the aforementioned, it is uncertain whether the pilot was ever shown to or discussed with Bolen's higher-ups at NBC. One of the most well-known publications of the era, Variety, only mentions the original title a single time (see below); another, Broadcasting (now Broadcasting & Cable), does not mention the show at all.
  • Prior to May 30, 2012, when the opening segment surfaced on YouTube, no footage of Bazaar is known to have been used in any capacity. Prior to the aforementioned upload, the pilot appears to have been represented by approximately four publicity shots (one in color), including on the show's E! True Hollywood Story. While GSN is known to have a copy and has aired numerous pilots over time, they have not yet shown Bazaar, possibly due to the use of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and/or "Spinning Wheel".

1974Edit

July 1974:

  • On July 31, the daily Variety publishes a brief report from Murray Schwartz (then-president of Merv Griffin Productions) that the company will produce "a new game show pilot for NBC". The report then notes that the upcoming pilot is "tentatively titled" Shopper's Bazaar, discounting the actual pilot of that name entirely.
    • The United States Patent and Trademark Office lists the "Wheel of Fortune" trademark (serial number 73656614 and registration number 1491571, filed in April 1987 and registered in June 1988) as having a "first use" date of June 1974 and a "first use of commerce" date of January 6, 1975. While the latter is accurate, the former appears to suggest that Merv Griffin Productions was already leaning toward changing the show's title; alternatively, the "first use" date is a typo and should really be August 1974, which would line up with the aforementioned Variety report.
August 1974:
EddByrnes

Pilot #2.

  • On August 28, the second and third pilots (now called Wheel of Fortune) are taped in Burbank for NBC. Changes include:
    • Edd Byrnes and Charlie O'Donnell replace Woolery and Lawrence.
    • The show's theme song is changed to "Give It One", composed by Maynard Ferguson and Alan Downey, from Ferguson's 1972 album M.F. Horn Two.
    • The Wheel is redesigned by Flesh to be horizontal and spun by the contestants (using the pegs), with much larger wedges (24 in total). Free Vowel, Your Own Clue, and $0 are retired, while Lose A Turn is pared down to just one wedge and Bankrupt is introduced. The minimum is increased to $25, and the top amounts are changed to $350 for Round 1, $500 for Round 2, $750 for Round 3, and $1,000 for Round 4. The chroma-key center of the Wheel is light green, but changes color for every spin.
      • While the wedges are still separated by pegs, each individual wedge now has two pegs in the middle, dividing them into thirds.
      • The font for the dollar signs, numbers, and letters is changed to Fortune Extrabold (also known as Chesterfield).
      • The "pointers" (see below) are flimsy, and as a result the Wheel is extremely loose, despite a prop man being underneath (lying on his back with a TV monitor nearby); the prop man nearly faints from this, resulting in the inclusion of air conditioning and a fan.
      • Buy A Vowel is added in Round 2, with a second wedge added in Round 3. A second Bankrupt and another Lose A Turn are added for Round 4, replacing Free Spin in the process. All four special spaces have white outlines (with the odd exception of Free Spin in Round 2), and all except Bankrupt have white outlines around the letters.
      • The special spaces are kept at an equal distance from each other (apart from two of them being separated by three cash spaces and the others being separated by four in Round 3). The number of these spaces starts at three and increases by one every round.
      • The Wheel also shows a pattern of having the largest value(s) clockwise of Bankrupt and the smallest value(s) counterclockwise of Bankrupt, as well as the second-largest value(s) clockwise of Lose A Turn and the second-smallest value(s) counterclockwise of Lose A Turn. $50, the smallest value in Round 2, is also the smallest value in Round 4 despite $100 being the smallest value in Round 3.
        PuzzleBoard82874

        Pilot #2.

    • The puzzle board is also redesigned by Flesh to be much larger and gray, with 39 trilons on three rows and a single light border, a prop which slides onstage at the start of each round. The trilons show green sparkles for unused spaces, a solid white for unrevealed letters, and black letters on a white background. Correct and incorrect letter calls are signified by a ding and buzzer, respectively; correct letters light up the border plus all of that letter's instances at once.
      • In the event that only vowels remain in the puzzle, eight high-pitched beeps are heard.
      • Once a puzzle is solved, all unrevealed letters light up and turn around to a portion of "Give It One". As with Bazaar, the player who solves the puzzle spins first in the next round.
      • While the puzzle board is designed to be motorized, this element is not completed by the time of taping. A portion is finished, but these are gutted out so the trilons can turn freely; Susan Stafford is hired to turn the letters.
    • Edd notes at the beginning of the game that each puzzle is a Person, Place, or Thing, then gives a clue for each round (for instance, the first puzzle of Pilot #3 is "a popular television actor").
    • The host/contestant area is overhauled:
      ContestantArea1974

      Pilot #2.

      • The players now stand. Behind them are three pillars with the same green sparkles as the unused trilons and a white display showing money put "on account", with an "ON ACCOUNT" light above the display. The display shows up to four digits plus a dollar sign, omitting the latter if $10,000 or more is put on account.
      • A white railing is in front of the players and host at about hip level, which is curved around at the host's area. Attached to the railing at the host's area is a container with a stack of Free Spin discs, which are now tan with "FREE SPIN" written in white characters in the middle.
      • Below the railing at the contestant area is a set of three black displays used to denote score during puzzles and cumulative totals after Rounds 2+ (both in a white Eggcrate font), with the same limitations as the displays behind them. These main displays are placed above large arrows which flash for each contestant's turn, and at the end of each arrow is a thin, flat "pointer" used to (ostensibly) slow the Wheel to a stop and denote what space that player has landed on. The arrows are red, yellow, and blue for the first, second, and third players respectively.
        1974 Pilot Shopping

        Pilot #3.

    • Contestants now purchase from a "showcase" of prizes located behind the puzzle board, which moves away so the player can shop. Both pilots use the same prizes, with their names and values scrolling on the left side of the screen; a "SOLD" tag marks prizes already purchased.
      • After solving one of the first three puzzles, players may opt to put those winnings on account immediately or go shopping. Round 4 is always followed by shopping, with any remaining money likely placed on a gift certificate (as there is a gift certificate prop among the prizes).
      • As Charlie describes the shopping prizes, the background music played is "Cinnamon and Clove", composed by Johnny Mandel and performed by Pat Williams.
    • The Wrong Letter Board and Accounting Department are combined into a single chalkboard with 26 flip-up cards on top. The cards are flipped back once a letter is called, becoming a true "Used Letter Board", while the chalkboard itself is used to show the players' names and keep track of both their current and cumulative scores (with a separate section denoting money put on account). The chalkboard, like the Accounting Department, is placed offstage; unlike the Accounting Department, the Used Letter Board is almost never shown on-camera.
      1974Logo

      Pilot #3.

    • The intro begins with Charlie mentioning several prizes as they are shown (specifically, "A spinet piano, a trip to Las Vegas, a Muskin Dune Cat, a 24-inch color TV, a 1975 automobile [more specifically, an Opel], or a Snark sailboat!"), followed by a wide shot which is chroma-keyed into a slowly zooming-out shot of the Wheel. Charlie continues with "These are just some of the many exciting prizes available. Total retail value of all these prizes: $20,130! Yours to buy today on Wheel of Fortune! And now, here's your host: Edd Byrnes!"
      • "Give It One" plays from the 2:33-3:10 period, with the last note of the song edited in.
      • As Charlie says "all these prizes", the money graphic (using a tall, thin font) appears.
      • At "host", the shot zooms back in through the Wheel as Edd walks out. He then introduces Susan, who walks up from the contestants' left holding an ECM-51 microphone and introduces the players as their backdrops light up (over another portion of "Give It One").
    • The final segment consists of Edd recapping the scores, announcing the winner, and talking briefly with Susan as an unknown cue plays. As they sign off, Edd spins the Wheel as it zooms back into view with the two in the center, and as "Give It One" plays from the beginning. The chroma-key shot, which moves over to the prizes, continues through the credits (which are set in the Clarendon typeface) and as the Griffin logo appears.
    • Losing players receive unstated parting gifts regardless of whether they solve any puzzles. Edd's phrasing suggests that the gifts are added to any prizes that are purchased during the game.
  • Other notes about these pilots:
    • The staff credited on Bazaar is almost entirely replaced: not counting Merv, only John Lauderdale and David S. Williger are retained. John Rhinehart becomes producer, while Marty Pasetta directs. Among the production staff is Nancy Jones, who is promoted to associate producer when Wheel debuts; a late-1986 interview suggests Nancy was also present for Bazaar, although she is not credited there.
    • Edd is drunk during these pilots, as he recounts in his autobiography Kookie No More. During both tapings, he says odd phrases like "Spin the puzzle and solve the Wheel." and generally makes it clear he is reading from cue cards. While he is noticeably more sober for Pilot #3, he is confronted after the taping by an upset Susan.
    • While Edd changes suits between the pilots, Susan wears a single powder-blue outfit for both.
    • There are no fee plugs, sponsor lists, eligibility disclaimers, or wardrobe credits.
    • During the taping, Merv becomes upset that Pasetta includes shots of other things, demanding that Wheel be shot more like Jeopardy! Pasetta eventually retaliates to these demands, possibly between the pilots, by demanding that Merv be barred from the control room – a viewpoint shared by Bolen.
  • On Pilot #2 (Marge/Gary/Roseanne):
    • Edd makes faces at the camera at points during the taping, and during Round 1 mistakenly says the total of all the values is $435 rather than $4,225.
    • The first wedge hit on the new Wheel is $200, and the first letter called on the new puzzle board is R. The first "dud" is T.
    • During Round 1, the board and sound operators both mishear Gary's call of F as S (a call repeated by Edd even after the S's are revealed), although this is not noticed.
    • In the same round, Gary calls a repeated T, but it is only acknowledged as a wrong letter.
    • Roseanne's nametag falls off on her first spin of Round 2. It disappears later in the round, but she does not wear it again until the start of Round 3.
    • The first I in the Round 2 puzzle SIRLOIN STEAK does not light up after Roseanne solves. By the next shot, it is lit after Susan has turned the trilon.
    • Edd's hint for the Round 3 puzzle MOTHER GOOSE is "a fictional character", resulting in the debut of Fictional Character.
    • During Round 3, Roseanne opts to solve for $1,300 only to be bullied by Edd (yelling "No don't guess, it's too early! Look at all the money you can make, you can make thousands of dollars! Be a gambler!") into spinning again. She solves one turn later with only the T, H, and R showing.
    • During Round 4, after Marge hits $900 for the second time in a row, Edd tells her "I think you've fixed the Wheel!", an ironic statement given the show was using a prop man to stop the Wheel with his feet.
    • Shortly after the above, Marge is given $750 for two R's rather than the proper $700. This does not appear to affect the outcome.
    • None of Bankrupt, Buy A Vowel, or Free Spin are hit, and no vowels are bought.
    • Despite Marge being called the returning champion by Edd at the top of the show, no cumulative total is shown or mentioned in the final segment.
  • On Pilot #3 (Tanya/Frank/Lois):
    • The lighting is a bit darker during the opening, most noticeable on the overhead Wheel shot.
    • Edd makes noises as the Wheel spins, and during Round 1 mistakenly says the total of all the values is $4,335 rather than $4,225.
    • Tanya had previously been a model on The New Treasure Hunt the previous year. This is not surprising, however, as game show pilots have typically used actors or professional contestants to play the game.
    • During Round 1, Tanya is given $775 for three L's rather than the proper $675 due to a mathematical error by Edd. The display initially shows the proper score of $1,375, but is "corrected" to $1,475 almost immediately afterward.
    • Susan forgets to turn the last A in the Round 1 puzzle TELLY SAVALAS.
    • During the shopping portion of Round 1, with $725 remaining to spend, Edd suggests Tanya buy a $660 brass bed, presumably because it is the most expensive prize she can afford at this point. Almost immediately afterward, after Tanya says she will buy the brass bed, he says "Are you sure? Don't let me talk you into it!"
    • Despite Tanya being called the returning champion by Edd at the top of the show, no cumulative total is mentioned in the final segment.
    • Following the full credit roll, Charlie says "Wheel of Fortune is a Merv Griffin production.", which he did not say at the end of Pilot #2.
  • When shown to test audiences, the response is that the new set is too busy, the sound effects are too noisy, and Byrnes does not fit. Bolen insists the show be picked up anyway, placing her job on the line: if Wheel fails, she leaves the network; if it succeeds, she gets a raise.
  • Clips of Pilot #2 were shown during the ceremonial 3,000th nighttime show on November 20, 1998, which claimed it was the pilot (disregarding Bazaar and #3).

November 1974:

  • By November 18, Bolen's bosses at NBC agree to put Wheel on the daytime schedule.

December 1974:

  • Early this month, NBC opts to replace Edd with Chuck, making the announcement on the 13th. (It is rumored that Edd was caught reciting his vowels backstage by Merv.) The series begins taping shortly afterward.
  • For at least the week of December 30, NBC airs two promos: one for the new game show lineup starting January 6 (including the debuts of Blank Check and Wheel), and one specifically for the premiere of Wheel, both showing clips of the premiere. It is known that each aired at least once on The Tonight Show during the week of December 30. Copies of both promos circulate among collectors.

1975Edit

January 1975:
TheBeginning1675
BuyAVowel1675
OddSetShot1675

The very first puzzle.

01061975 first puzzle

Can you solve it?

Wheel of Fortune premiere promo.mp4 snapshot 00.09 -2017.01.09 05.01.04- - Copy

These are just some of the many exciting prizes available!

  • Wheel debuts on January 6, replacing Jeopardy! as per contract in the 10:30 AM slot formerly held by Winning Streak. Other than Chuck hosting, the major changes are:
  1. The show's theme is changed to "Big Wheels" by Alan Thicke, who also supplies the show's other music cues.
  2. Jeff Goldstein replaces Pasetta as director.
  3. The format is slightly altered to use three Wheel templates, with the top values now being $500 in Round 1, $750 in Round 2 (possibly), and $1,000 thereafter. The other values are also moved around a bit, with $225, $325, $375, and $425 being retired, Buy A Vowel now available from Round 1. Possibly for Round 2, Free Spin is removed and a second Bankrupt is added. A second Lose A Turn and a second Buy A Vowel are added in Round 3. Also, the serifs at the top of each "1" move from the top to a slightly lower position, with the 1 of the $1,000 space having a noticeably flatter base than those of the three-digit values.
  4. The placement of the special spaces does not follow any distinct pattern, and the largest and smallest values are no longer always placed adjacent to a penalty wedge.
  5. Contestants who land on Buy A Vowel and do not have $250 lose their turn (a rule that was likely in place since at least the second pilot, but this is not certain). According to one recollection, a negative score occurred at least once in the game's history, so it is not yet certain whether landing on Buy A Vowel always resulted in a lost turn if the contestant did not have enough money
  6. The puzzle board trilons now turn clockwise instead of counterclockwise, and multiples of a letter light each instance one at a time. Also, the puzzle board, which previously was open behind the trilons and light border, is modified to add a backing.
  7. The camera zooms in to a tight shot of the puzzle board, cropped to the edges of the puzzle's trilons, when Susan is turning letters.
  8. Each round's category is now given outright to the players.
  9. The single shopping "showcase" behind the puzzle board is changed to three platforms at the back of center stage. The contestants put the showcases in a 1-2-3 order before the show; if that player solves a puzzle, they spend their money at the showcase they put as #1, with the second and third platforms respectively being used if the same contestant solves the next puzzle.
  10. The platforms are behind a set of panel doors similar to those of Let's Make a Deal, inside a border that resembles the puzzle board (using a 10×5 grid of what appear to be square mirrors). The doors open after each round to reveal the prize platform for that round; once Charlie finishes describing the purchased prizes, the doors close and "hookers" (stagehands with large hooks) pull the platform out of the way and set up for the next round.
  11. The scrolling prize/value list is replaced by a set of price cards placed on or near the prizes; these cards use black characters on a white background. A photo showing these tags appears in the first issue of the show's Off Camera newsletter in 1993.
  12. Each player now gets to start a round, going from left to right for Rounds 1-3 and looping around for subsequent rounds.
  13. The flimsy "pointers" are replaced by a set of much sturdier ones that are far more effective at stopping the Wheel.
  14. The Speed-Up round is introduced, signified by a four-chime bell (previously used as the end-of-round signal on Jeopardy!) in Rounds 3+ to denote that time is running out. Chuck gives the Wheel a "Final Spin", and the amount that the red arrow lands on is the value of a letter in this round; if the arrow lands on a non-cash wedge, he spins again until a dollar amount is hit. The player in control when the Final Spin chimes sound gives a letter; if the letter is in the puzzle, s/he has five seconds to solve the puzzle once Susan turns them over and moves out of the way. If a wrong letter is called or the time limit expires, play passes to the next player. For most of their existence, Speed-Ups are only used when necessary. According to multiple recollections, contestants originally are not allowed to call vowels within the first 60 seconds; this time limit is typically denoted by the "tacky buzzer" used to indicate time expiring on The Hollywood Squares.
  15. Speed-Up rounds use a split-screen shot, with the upper half displaying the puzzle board and the lower half showing the players and their main displays (plus the "ON ACCOUNT" displays, if applicable). The only sounds used during the Speed-Up are the buzzer (when the five-second time limit expires) and the "only vowels remain" beeps.
  16. A sponsor list is added. If its appearance in January 1976 is any indication, it is prefaced by "THE FOLLOWING HAVE PAID AND/OR FURNISHED PRIZES TO NBC FOR PROMOTING THEIR PRODUCTS", centered, above the spinning Wheel.
  • On January 6:
    16195641 1625317427774634 2322400124394721500 n
    16142196 1625318967774480 2857511930512649287 n

    A mink coat!

    • Bankrupt is hit at least once, a fact the weekly Variety notes in an article on the 15th.
    • The first two letters revealed on the board are S and C, also the first two letters of the first word of the Round 1 puzzle.
    • At one point, while contestant Gerry is spinning the Wheel, the dollar sign disappears from June's scoreboard.
    • Contestant June wins at least $3,800, buying a $3,200 mink coat which she wears for the rest of the show. Following Round 3 (or possibly 4), she tells Chuck that "You're the first man who ever gave me a mink coat" while walking over to his area and giving him a kiss on the cheek.
    • For the first known time, a puzzle is discarded, likely Round 3 (in any case, the last puzzle of the day). During the credits, Charlie mentions the fact it was discarded, followed by an announcement that June (pronounced "joo-knee") was credited with her winnings, a new puzzle substituted, and the tape edited. This was most likely due to Susan turning a wrong letter, something she was known to have done frequently in the earliest days.
  • The January 6 show is known to exist, as clips of it were used in the show's E! True Hollywood Story.
  • On January 6 or shortly thereafter, Giorgio begins providing Susan's wardrobe.
  • As of January 6:
    • The opening is approximately the same as it was on the 1974 pilots.
    • The main contestant displays are still white.
    • There is still a ring of lights above the Wheel, and at least some overhead shots continue to use it.
    • The center of the Wheel still changes color with each spin.
    • Puzzles are still introduced with an angled shot that includes the host and Wheel.
  • After the January 8 show is taped, Goldstein tells Chuck that he has never seen a game show host make a mistake and draw everyone's attention to it. Chuck responds by saying that everyone makes mistakes, so they should leave it in rather than edit it out.
  • Initially, there is apparently no rule stating that puzzles must be solved exactly as they appear on the board, which was likely also the case on the pilots. The rule was believed to have been added the day after a contestant is ruled correct despite transposing the first and third words of TWEEDLEDUM AND TWEEDLEDEE.
February 1975:
S-l500 - Copy
  • An NBC press photo dated February 5 shows Chuck and Susan at the Rounds 3+ Wheel used on the premiere, with the doors behind them. Whether the date indicates that these elements were still in place at this point is unknown, as various publicity shots have been recycled and "re-dated" over the years.

March 1975:

  • For the week of March 10, Wheel and NBC's other daytime games (Blank Check, Celebrity Sweepstakes, High Rollers, The Hollywood Squares, and Jackpot) participate in the Shamrock Sweepstakes.
  • On March 17, the biggest winner of each show from the previous week appears on Celebrity Sweepstakes, as do Chuck and NBC's other hosts (Art James, Jim MacKrell, Alex Trebek, Peter Marshall, and Geoff Edwards).
    • The show begins with all twelve onstage, most likely in the six spots normally occupied by the celebrity panel; Sweepstakes regular Carol Wayne (the Lebanon Daily News claims on March 15 that Bob Hope filled this role, but this is somewhat unlikely) draws a name out of a drum, at which point the other players and their hosts are put in an isolation booth. The remaining host reads a five-part question about Irish-American people (written by Bolen and Jack Samuels, head of NBC's Compliance & Practices office), to which the player must give all five answers to win $100,000. An incorrect answer at any point means that a new name is drawn and the same question is asked by that host, continuing as necessary until a player gives all five correct answers. While the Shamrock Sweepstakes rules allow it to continue into multiple shows as needed, this ends up not being necessary.
    • A copy of this episode exists on audio tape, held by Jimmy Owen. The first two minutes from the next day's episode, including a replay of the $100,000 win, can be seen here.
    • Info on the Sweepstakes, including the multi-part question and its answers, appears in Maxene Fabe's 1979 book TV Game Shows!

April 1975:

  • Sometime this month, contestant Richard Hooper wins $19,061 over four days. He later appears during the All-Star Dream Machine Championship in early 1976.

May 1975:

June 1975:
Board Game 1
  • Likely by the end of this month (according to one recollection), and definitely by November 3, the prop at center stage is removed at Merv's insistence. If the photos shown on the Milton Bradley games (see "October 1975") are any indication, the prize platforms are temporarily put behind the puzzle board, as was the case in the 1974 pilots.
  • Assuming the above was the case, a golden curtain that also stretches between the puzzle board and Wheel debuts at some point afterward (no later than November 3). The curtain, decorated vertically with lights, lowers after Chuck's entrance and raises after each round to reveal the shopping prizes.
  • Also assuming the above was the case, the set photos used in the Milton Bradley games are taken during this "interim" period and confirm several aspects about the show (all of which are definitely in place by October 31):
    • The Round 1 Wheel layout has changed by now, with the minimum now $100: the tan $75 becomes a second $500, the sole $25 becomes $300 (if it did not increase before the other spaces; see below), the red $50 becomes $150, the yellow $75 becomes $200, and the blue $50 becomes $100.
    • The Round 3 layout is altered a bit as well, with the sole $50 becoming $150.
    • The pricetags used in shopping rounds change to shorter black characters on a blue background, encased in white holders.
    • The main contestant displays become the same color as the arrows (red, yellow, and blue from left to right).
    • The special spaces still have their original appearance.
  • Available footage of a 1975 episode of the Belgian version (Het Rad Der Fortuin) shows a Round 1 Wheel using the January 6 layout with slightly different wedge placement and the values multiplied by 10, with no 250 spaces. If this is a reflection of the American version, the sole $25 increases to $300 (and the minimum value becomes $50) before the other two-digit values are removed.
  • Probably at this point, and definitely by late January 1976, the light ring above the players is removed and the Wheel's center no longer changes color.
July 1975:
ByrnesPilotPromo
  • A "Fun in the Morning" promo airs between about July 4 and September 26, consisting of publicity shots from Celebrity Sweepstakes, Wheel, High Rollers, The Hollywood Squares, The Magnificent Marble Machine, and Jackpot. Strangely, the Wheel pictures are one each from the Shopper's Bazaar pilot and the first Byrnes pilot.
  • As of July 13, Wheel draws a 6.5 on the Nielsen ratings system with a 33 share.
  • The July 15 show (#137, Mike/Laura/Bobbie) is held on audio tape by Archival Television Audio, Inc.
  • By July 15:
    • The intro is slightly altered, but mostly similar to the 1974 pilots: Charlie lists several prizes as the camera shows them, followed by "These are just some of the many exciting prizes available. Total retail value of all these prizes: more than [amount]! And are yours to buy today on Wheel of Fortune. And now, here's your host: Chuck Woolery!"
    • The money graphic is now rounded to the nearest thousand.
    • Chuck now interviews each player starting with the red position after Susan introduces them.
    • $1,000 becomes the top value in Round 2, and other high values ($700, $800, $900) that originally only appeared in Round 3 are now present in Round 2 as well.
    • The second Lose A Turn wedge in Round 3 has been removed by this point, as evidenced by contestant Laura landing on $500 during the round. Both this and the above likely happened when $100 became the minimum.
    • During shopping rounds, contestants may now place any part of their winnings on a gift certificate in addition to the existing "on account" option; players may also place some money on account and some on a gift certificate. However, from this point until the removal of the shopping rounds, most contestants opt for the gift certificate.
    • Charlie's closing spiel about the prizes is changed to "The prices of the prizes were furnished to the contestants prior to the show and have been rounded off to the nearest dollar." On January 6, this was simply "The prices of some of the prizes were furnished to the contestants prior to the show."
  • On July 15:
    • There is a commercial break during Round 1, which appears to have been a rarity during the daytime show's shopping era.
    • None of the puzzles have T or O in them.
  • As of July 15, the original Speed-Up rules are still in effect.

August 1975:

September 1975:

  • Lin Bolen leaves NBC sometime between the beginning of this month and March 31, 1976 (a Variety article from the latter states that she was present when the Fall season began, but CBS overtook NBC by the time she left). On Wheel, this results in contestants generally playing puzzles at their own pace rather than very frequently following her insistence on playing to the last consonant to maximize winnings.
  • The September 5 show (#175, Janet/Linda/Mike) is held on audio tape by Archival Television Audio, Inc.
  • As of September 5:
    • There is still no sound played when each puzzle is revealed.
    • The thin-flap "pointers" are still in use.
    • Buy A Vowel is still present.
    • Contestants still order the prize platforms 1-2-3 before the show, which in turn are tied to each of the first three rounds.
  • On September 5:
    • The money graphic (and Charlie's associated spiel) is $19,000. This is the lowest known amount displayed on the "large" money graphic, barring the eventual Jackpot and Cashpot graphics.
    • No letters are revealed in Round 1 until the seventh turn.
    • There is a commercial break during Round 1.
  • As of September 12, Wheel draws a 31 share on the Nielsen ratings system, 2nd place among all daytime network games (trailing only Celebrity Sweepstakes).

October 1975:

  • By the end of this month, Milton Bradley releases two board game adaptations; they are the only ones to be released in the 1970s, and the only ones to use the shopping element. As mentioned under "June 1975", the pictures used on the box and instruction booklet show a set that does not use the doors or curtain; rather, the prizes are behind the puzzle board, which would indicate an "interim" period.
    • These games confirm several gameplay aspects about the show at the time of their release, including:
  1. The categories in use at this point: Event, Fictional Character, Landmark, Person, Phrase, Place, Thing, and Title. An old version of the show's website stated that Wheel began with six categories, while one recollection says that Phrase did not exist in the earliest months. It is likely that the puzzles were still only Person-Place-Thing when the show debuted (and in the July 15 and September 5 shows, these are the only categories which appear), with Fictional Character-Landmark-Event being extensions; if so, Phrase and Title are the two "additional" categories.
  2. Punctuation is still ignored (i.e., FISHERMANS WHARF instead of FISHERMAN'S WHARF).
  3. There is still no rule stating that puzzles must be solved exactly as they appear on the board (although given the absence of the "only vowels remain" rule, this may be an oversight by Milton Bradley).
  • The above board games' rules state that players may not buy vowels at their discretion and must land on Buy A Vowel to do so. While this was long believed to also be the case on the show, it very likely was not, as the September 5 show, in which this rule was not in effect, was almost certainly taped by the time the First Edition game finished production.
  • Sometime between the release of the First Edition and that of the Second, at least Thing and Person begin using their respective "plural" forms (Things and People, respectively).
  • Presumably by the above point, the time limit and limitations on vowel calling are removed from the Speed-Up.

November 1975:

  • Sometime this month, contestant Patti Butler wins $18,300 over five days. She later appears during the All-Star Dream Machine Championship in early 1976.
  • November 3 is NBC's Daytime Gigantic Game Gala, a week-long celebration involving Wheel, Celebrity Sweepstakes, The Hollywood Squares, and The Magnificent Marble Machine.
    • For this week, Wheel airs for a full hour from 10:30-11:30 AM, resulting in the only known week with three hour-long daytime network games (the others being Squares, celebrating the start of its 10th year, and The Price Is Right, which was a permanent expansion). Neither High Rollers nor 3 for the Money air this week.
    • The budget is almost certainly increased for this week: the available footage (see below) shows a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado coupe on-set and the Round 3 layout used for at least Round 1, with $1,000 as top value and the (dark orange) Free Spin wedge in place of the Bankrupt near Lose A Turn.
    • The November 3 show is known to exist, as a 20-second clip of the opening was shown on the March 21, 2000 episode of The Roseanne Show (rerun July 5), on which Chuck was a guest.
  • By November 3:
    • The opening is slightly altered to remove the chroma-key shots of the prizes and have the lights on. It otherwise appears to be the same as it was on the 1974 pilots.
    • Chuck now enters from the contestants' right and walks up to his part of the railing.
    • The "pointers" are changed to white, teardrop-shaped "flippers".
    • Buy A Vowel and the second Lose A Turn are definitely retired. The Round 1 layout replaces Buy A Vowel with a red $400.
    • The sole $175 in Rounds 2+ is increased to $200, which probably only lasts for this week.
    • Bankrupt, Lose A Turn, and Free Spin adopt their normal appearances. It is possible that this change took place before Buy A Vowel was removed, but this is uncertain.
    • The curtain has definitely replaced the doors.
  • It is likely that the aforementioned Wheel layout alterations are removed on November 10.
  • Wheel does not air on November 27 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1975:

  • On December 1, Wheel again expands to 11:30; as a result, High Rollers moves to Noon and The Magnificent Marble Machine to 12:30. Changes made for the hour-long format, most of which were likely also used on November 3-7, are believed to include the following:
    • Three contestants (including the returning champion, if applicable) play a three-round game during the first half-hour with $500, $1,000, and $1,500 as the top values (a half-template exclusive to Round 3, which introduces $1,500 and $850, is likely introduced at this point). Immediately afterward, a second set of contestants play a three-round game much like the first. 
    • The winner of each game plays a one-round "Head-To-Head All-Cash Showdown" with $2,000 as top value and the puzzle chosen in front of the puzzle board (reading WHEEL OF FORTUNE) from one of three bowls marked by category. Further, one wedge is placed on the Wheel which corresponds to a prize; if a contestant hits Bankrupt while holding the Prize wedge, it is placed back on the Wheel.
    • The winner of this round plays a Bonus Round with the same rules as the Star Bonus Round, described in further detail under "March 1978".
  • Per the Toledo Blade, Wheel does not air on December 25 due to Christmas Day Service programming.
  • Late this month, including December 30-31, contestant Rick Mandl wins $22,475 over four days, including a luxury car in the Bonus Round. He later appears during the All-Star Dream Machine Championship in early 1976.

1976Edit

January 1976:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • On January 19, Wheel returns to a half-hour, now at 11:00 AM; High Rollers moves to 10:30, while The Magnificent Marble Machine (which had been on a two-week hiatus) returns to the schedule at Noon in an all-celebrity format. Most elements added for the hour-long format are retired, some temporarily.
    JudyBongarzone1976

    Chuck and Judy Bongarzone.

  • Likely on January 19, the show holds "NBC's All Star Dream Machine Championship", a week-long tournament of champions with the nine biggest winners up to that point (five from the hour-long format, the others from before then): Judy Bongarzone, Rick Mandl ($22,475 "last month"), Sue Bergen, Rochelle Greenblatt, Richard Hooper ($19,061 in April), Patti Butler ($18,300 in November), Barbara Becker, Ann Gothoffer, and Eleanor Marter. During this week:
    • Three players compete on Monday-Wednesday (the names drawn by Chuck from a drum before the show), with the winners then playing a two-day "grand championship" (a prototype of the Friday Finals, and the first known use of such a format).
    • The Wheel layouts use $500, $1,000, and $1,500 as the top values, suggesting that they were held over from the hour-long shows.
  • On the Monday show (Rick/Patty/Richard), held by the Paley Center for Media:
    • The opening begins with the logo on an overhead shot of the Wheel as a drumroll plays.
      DreamMachineContestantsMoneyGraphic
    • Charlie's opening is "Wheel of Fortune proudly presents..." followed by the names of all nine players, each of whom is shown in close-up before a zoom-out to all nine players in front of the blank puzzle board (the camera simply cuts from the above overhead shot to a close-up of Judy). He then says "These nine players have thus far won a total of $187,160! And it's not over yet!", with the amount shown onscreen as he says it.
      NBCDreamMachine
    • After the above, "Big Wheels" begins to play as Charlie says "Take a look at this 24-foot travel trailer, this brand-new Buick Century, and one of our players will win this grand prize: a 1976 Mercedes Benz 450 SL worth over $21,000 on NBC's All Star Dream Machine Championship! And now, here's your host: Chuck Woolery!" A graphic reading "NBC's All Star Dream Machine Championship", using a white Helvetica font, appears over the Mercedes and zooms in; Chuck's "entrance" is simply a fade to him already standing at his part of the railing.
    • Susan enters from Chuck's right with a normal-sized microphone, after which she mentions that over $189,000 worth of prizes is available this week.
    • Charlie announces each player's name and hometown as they enter from Chuck's left. Chuck says when they played and how much they won over how many days. Strangely, Charlie introduces them as "Contestant #1/2/3" despite doing so to the blue, yellow, and red players in that order.
    • Chuck does not do the opening spin, instead explaining how the tournament works.
    • There is a commercial break during Round 1, likely because of the longer-than-usual intro.
    • Rounds 1 and 2 are Title; the latter, BLUE BIRD OF HAPPINESS, is misspelled ("Bluebird" should be one word).
    • Interestingly, Richard figures out the answer to Round 3 puzzle DICK CLARK before taking a spin, as he calls every consonant in the puzzle, starting with C, and solves without buying a vowel at any point.
    • The sponsor list begins with "THE FOLLOWING HAVE PAID AND/OR FURNISHED PRIZES TO NBC FOR PROMOTING THEIR PRODUCTS:", centered, above the spinning Wheel. (This may have been the original version, but this is uncertain.)
    • The eligibility disclaimer reads "Contestants were furnished with complete rules, must meet eligibility requirements and win only announced prizes." (This may have been the original version, but this is uncertain.)
  • By the above episode:
    • The "tall, thin" font for the money graphic has been replaced by a thicker font, similar if not the same as Tungsten, which remains for the rest of the daytime run. For at least this week, the graphic is lime green.
    • The contestant score displays become white again.
    • The Wheel is altered a bit (which very likely happened when the Wheel was changed for the hour format):
      1-75Wheel
      Gold $1500
      • All of the wedges have white borders.
      • The Free Spin space becomes gold.
      • The pale-orange $200 in Rounds 2+ is decreased back to $175.
      • The orange $500 in Round 2 becomes red, swapping places with the Bankrupt three spaces clockwise, and the tan $200 in Rounds 2+ increases to a yellow $400.
    • Each puzzle is now revealed by a head-on shot of the blank spaces. On at least the 1974 pilots and 1975 premiere, an angled shot was used which also showed the Wheel and host.
    • The same head-on shot of the blank spaces is now used for the entirety of each round when the puzzle board is seen on-camera. On at least the 1975 premiere, the shot would zoom in so that the unused trilons would be cropped out when letters were revealed.
    • A four-note chime now plays at the start of each round.
      1-76Puzzleboard
    • The category is now shown to the television audience in large all-caps (in the Helvetica Bold font) below the puzzle, albeit sporadically due to being on art cards.
    • The contestants no longer choose the order of the showcases to shop from, rather the first platform is now used after Round 1, the second after Round 2, and the third after Round 3; in the event of subsequent rounds, the process begins again at the first platform (or the first with prizes remaining).
    • The pricetags used in shopping rounds are changed to dark green characters on a white background with an elegant design surrounding the price, a style which remains for the rest of the shopping era.
    • Full credit rolls begin with the show's logo and end with Merv Griffin's creator credit. Also, they are now set in Helvetica, with headers using entirely lower-case letters and names entirely in upper-case.
    • The Merv Griffin Productions logo adds "©COPYRIGHT 1975" below it, with the copyright symbol larger than the rest of the text. For at least the 1973-74 pilots, only the logo was present.
  • As of the above episode, Susan's wardrobe provider is still Giorgio Beverly Hills and Chuck still does not have his own wardrobe credit.
  • As of the above episode, full credit rolls are still done over the spinning Wheel, as was the case on the 1974 pilots.
  • According to Maxene Fabe's 1979 book TV Game Shows! and the 1987 book Wheel of Fortune by David R. Sams and Robert L. Shook, Judy wins the tournament and $64,461, including the Mercedes.

February 1976:

  • Sometime this year, an episode airs in which contestant Ron Burns purchases a trip to Bermuda which becomes his honeymoon destination. His daughter, Cheron, appears as a contestant on December 8, 2009 and relates the aforementioned.

March 1976:

April 1976:

  • On April 13, Rhinehart announces his departure from the show; just over a month later, on May 14, he is promoted to being the network's West Coast Daytime Program Development Director.
  • On April 29, Nancy is promoted to producer, replacing Rhinehart. The full credit roll is altered to start with her name once the tapings catch up.
May 1976:
5-20-76A
  • The May 20 show (#356, Elliot/Kathi/Lee) is held by the Paley Center for Media. A brief clip of the opening appears during the 1984 NBC special Those Wonderful TV Game Shows.
  • On May 20:
    • The money graphic is white, as was the case on the 1974 pilots. (This may have been the original color used since the premiere, but this is uncertain.)
    • The category cards are white, matching Susan's outfit.
    • There is a commercial break during Round 1.
  • By May 20:
    Vlcsnap-2015-04-06-21h00m20s22
    WOF (1976) Elliot Kathi Lee.mp4 snapshot 08.52 -2015.07.09 13.52.15-
    • The intro is slightly altered: the money graphic is shown over the set, but the logo is displayed over the spinning Wheel followed by the chroma-key zoom while Charlie introduces Chuck. (This may have been the case since the premiere, but this is uncertain.) Charlie's spiel is still the same as it was on July 15, 1975.
    • Susan now enters from Chuck's left when he introduces her. At this point, she is still introducing the contestants' names and hometowns, and is still using a normal-sized microphone.
    • The Wheel colors are changed slightly:
      • The white borders are removed.
      • Lose A Turn becomes the same shade of yellow as the yellow cash spaces. Previously, it had been a slightly brighter shade of yellow.
      • Tan is no longer used as a color on the Wheel; as such, the $450, $250, and the yellow $200 near $275 in Round 1, as well as the tan $600 and $100 in Rounds 2+, all become gold. The tan $200 near $175 in Round 1 becomes pale orange.
      • $1,500 becomes pale orange; it had previously been gold.
    • The "house minimum" is $200 (it had apparently been $100 in the earliest shows).
    • Full credit rolls are now done over a shot of Chuck, Susan, and the day's winner.

June 1976:

  • On June 2, 3, or 4, contestant Linda sets a single-round winnings record of $8,325 and a single-day half-hour winnings record of either this amount or slightly more.
    Round1-76
  • By June 7 (#368; Gerry/Linda/Lee):
    • The intro is replaced by a new one that shows a wide shot of the set and closeups of several prizes. Charlie's intro is changed to "Just look at this studio, filled with beautiful and imaginative gifts, which can be purchased today on Wheel of Fortune! Total retail value of all these prizes: more than [amount]! Now, let's meet the host of Wheel of Fortune: Chuck Woolery!" The money graphic becomes green, albeit a darker shade than on the All-Star Dream Machine shows, and the chroma-key shots of the Wheel are removed.
    • Susan returns to using an ECM-51 microphone, but no longer introduces the players.
  • As of June 7:
    • The original curtain is still in use.
    • Susan still enters from Chuck's left when he introduces her.
    • There is still no sound effect for hitting Bankrupt.
    • Champions may still return for up to five days.
    • The original category cards are still in use.
    • The puzzle board's light border still turns on for correct letter calls.
    • The "ON ACCOUNT" displays are still only used solely for money put on account.
    • The Merv Griffin Productions logo still has the same copyright byline it did in January.
  • On June 7:
    Killtheumpire

    "KILL THE VAMPIRE"?

    Hugger
    • The category cards are brown, matching Susan's outfit.
    • During Round 1, the buzzer sounds on a correct letter, followed by a ding immediately after.
    • In Round 1, Gerry mis-solves KILL THE UMPIRE as KILL THE VAMPIRE with the I's and U missing. Linda then gives the correct answer for $925, after which Chuck says "You've made a lot of money off other people's mistakes."
    • After Charlie describes the Round 1 shopping prizes, Chuck mentions getting letters from people who don't like seeing him hug contestants. He responds with "I like to hug folks. I'm a hugger. A lot of people are handshakers; I'm a hugger. And one more thing: if you were here, I'd hug ya too!"
    • During Round 2, Lee loses a then-very high $2,750 to Bankrupt.
    • After Lee solves the Round 3 puzzle (NORMAN ROCKWELL) for $800, Chuck has her spin one more time before announcing the winner. She hits $1,500.
    • Following this spin, Chuck asks an offstage staff member (possibly Nancy) about returning champion Linda's scores. Mention is made of her single-round record the previous week, and that she currently is second in half-hour total winnings with $23,200. (It is not known what the record was considered to be; while it may have been the aforementioned $64,461 won by Bongarzone, the 1987 Sams/Shook Wheel of Fortune book says that it was not considered to be the record in 1987, which suggests it may not have been considered the record in 1976.)
    • Later in the credits, the curtain raises up to allow Chuck, Susan, and Linda to go to the boat she purchased.
  • June 7 is the earliest Wheel episode, one of only three daytime episodes, and the only episode hosted by Chuck to be aired by GSN; the network reran it in 2007 as part of a special marathon following Merv's death. Per the network's standard at the time, any mid-show plugs were cut out and the credit crunch began right after Chuck and Susan signed off (resulting in the show abruptly ending during the sponsor list, despite having a full credit roll).

July 1976:

August 1976:

September 1976:

October 1976:

November 1976:

  • Wheel does not air on November 25 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1976:

1977Edit

(Note: This is the only year which does not have any full episodes confirmed to circulate. As a result, the info listed here is mostly compiled from print articles and recollections.)

January 1977:

  • January 24 is the first known Brides Week, with brides-to-be (grooms-to-be on the 26th) playing for prizes including a $5,000+ wardrobe, wedding cakes, rings, silver, crystal, fine china, and various home furnishings. It is also the first known instance of a themed week.
    1506650 10202309424369106 1525540029 n
    • Summer Bartholomew makes her first known appearance this week, modeling specially-designed bridal gowns which are among the prizes.
    • A set of 20 color slides (photos) taken during this week's taping is known to exist. Some are from the 26th (including the photo at right), while another appears to be a publicity shot of Chuck, Susan, and Summer; most of the pictures likely represent the week as-aired. In May 2012, the slides were put up for auction on eBay with a starting price of $12.79 (including shipping) and photos of 12 slides available for viewing; the auction closed with no bids.
  • By January 24, the curtain's lights are removed.
  • As of January 28, the contestant score displays and arrows still look the same as they did in January 1976.
  • At this point, the blue wedge adjacent to Lose A Turn in Round 1 is still $100.
  • Also at this point, $175 is still present in Rounds 2+.

February 1977:

  • On an episode around this point (known to be between January and March), contestant Beverly LaBerdia mis-solves the puzzle TED KNIGHT as TED NUGENT, likely with only the T's and D showing. A copy of the episode, held by Beverly, was stolen (along with Beverly's U-Haul truck) on May 25, 1981 while she was staying at a Motel 6 in Tulsa, Oklahoma; its location is currently unknown.

March 1977:

  • On March 16, Merv takes out a single-page print ad noting that Wheel attained the highest audience share of all daytime network programming for the weeks of February 14 and 21.

April 1977:

  • Sometime this year, an episode airs in which a female contestant purchases a trip; the trip results in her getting married and having a daughter. The daughter, Sarah, appears as a contestant during the College Week of May 12, 2003 and relates the aforementioned.

May 1977:

  • On another episode sometime this year (and likely before mid-October), contestant Gaylee Gillmore purchases a few prizes. Her son, Paul Hermosillo (whom Gaylee was pregnant with during her appearance), appears as a contestant on November 27, 2008 and relates the aforementioned. It is known that Paul was born on October 3, 1977.

June 1977:

  • As of June 15, Wheel is still the highest-rated daytime series on NBC.
  • At some point this year, contestant Evan Silbert competes for two shows, winning $5,500 in prizes. Evan is known to have copies of both episodes.
    13083528 909924609118761 732169267 n.mp4 snapshot 00.33 -2017.05.03 13.54.55-
    13083528 909924609118761 732169267 n.mp4 snapshot 00.54 -2017.05.04 05.38.13-
    • On the first of his two episodes, the Round 1 puzzle HANKY-PANKY is both the first known instance of punctuation and the first known instance of a puzzle being entirely filled in before being solved.
  • By the above episodes:
    • Charlie's opening spiel is slightly extended to mention three prizes as the camera shows closeups of them: "Just look at this studio, filled with [names of three prizes], which can be purchased today on Wheel of Fortune! Total retail value of all these prizes: more than [amount]! Now, let's meet your host, Chuck Woolery!"
    • The contestant displays are extended to show five digits and a dollar sign.
    • At least the Round 1 Wheel layout has changed somewhat: The blue $100 near Free Spin becomes $400, the blue $100 next to Lose A Turn becomes $400, the orange $100 near Bankrupt becomes $500, and the blue $100 next to Bankrupt becomes $350.
    • The category cards are changed to a thin, monospaced font display in various colors, usually matching Susan's outfit barring neutral colors or multicolored outfits. Unlike the prior style, which was only shown sporadically due to being on art cards, the new displays are present on all shots of the puzzle board.
    • The puzzle board's border now stays lit for the entire game, instead of lighting up only on letter reveals.
    • The "ON ACCOUNT" displays are now used for total winnings for champions, omitting the dollar sign for totals of $10,000 or more.
  • At this point, the contestant arrows still look the same as they did on January 28, 1977.

July 1977:

  • The July 5 show is known to exist, as a copy taped by contestant William Silver is held by him on VHS tape.
  • By July 5, the returning-champion limit is decreased to three days.

August 1977:

September 1977:

  • Likely by this point, rounds that begin as a Speed-Up are played for a gift certificate if time runs very short. This practice becomes increasingly common with the introduction of the Bonus Round in December 1981.
  • Early this month (taped in mid-August), contestant Tad Dunlap competes for three shows, retiring undefeated. Among his winnings is a trip to Europe.
    • On one of Tad's episodes, for the first time, five full rounds are played without the need for a Final Spin due to him solving the puzzles quickly; at this point, four full rounds was the norm. This is the first known instance of such an event, and appears to have been a rarity in the shopping era.
    • Tad is known to have requested copies of his episodes to be taped by a Las Vegas appliance store, but upon returning from the aforementioned trip discovered that the episodes had been taped over on the assumption that he would not be coming for them.
  • Sometime after Tad's shows (and no later than September 7), Susan is absent for at least four weeks due to an accident while rehearsing for the second Circus of the Stars, which airs December 5. Summer Bartholomew returns to fill in for her.
  • Susan Morrison, a married model living in San Diego, plays on September 13 and 14; among the prizes she wins is a trip to Hawaii.
  • Arte Johnson fills in for Susan on at least one episode this month, most likely the 30th. It is known that he appears to plug his show Knockout, which debuts October 3.

October 1977:

November 1977:

  • Wheel does not air on November 24 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1977:

  • Possibly by the end of this year, and definitely by January 18, 1978, a slide whistle sound is added for landing on Bankrupt. According to one recollection, its first use results in Chuck saying "What was that?" and laughing.
  • Most likely on the same day, and definitely by March 27, 1979, the slide whistle begins to be used if Chuck hits Bankrupt on the Final Spin, essentially a running gag that remains until about mid-1985 or so.

1978Edit

January 1978:
1978Fakeout

Sure it is, Wheel.

  • Wheel does not air on January 2 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • The January 18 show (#785; Ed/Sharon/Tricia) is held by the Paley Center for Media. The first nine seconds are aired much later on the ceremonial 3,000th and 4,000th nighttime shows, the latter dating it to 1983.
  • By January 18:
    • Susan begins entering through the center of the curtain, a tradition that with rare exception continues for the rest of the shopping era.
    • The contestant arrows are redesigned: they are now brighter and come to a point with the flipper in the center of the point.
    • The Wheel layouts change a bit:
      • Round 2: The sole $175 is again increased to $200, which carries over into subsequent rounds.
      • Rounds 3+: The blue $200 next to Lose A Turn becomes a dark-blue $400, while the red $200 between the Bankrupts increases to $350. (These changes may have taken place when the Round 1 layout was altered in 1977, but this is uncertain.)
        77-78
    • Likely due to the change from art cards to the monospaced font, the category is now displayed during Speed-Up rounds, albeit sometimes in white rather than the color of Susan's outfit. This practice was likely in place when the displays debuted, although it is not present on March 15.
    • The eligibility disclaimer is now in all-caps, using the same font as the category displays: "CONTESTANTS WERE FURNISHED WITH COMPLETE RULES, MUST MEET ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS AND WIN ONLY ANNOUNCED PRIZES". This and some of the other credits have two sizes for the font: the first letter of sentences and proper names is larger than the rest, with only the "capital" letters being in the standard size of the font.
    • Nyesta and Augustus begin providing the wardrobe for Susan and Chuck, respectively.
    • The copyright byline of the Merv Griffin Productions graphic is changed to "Califon Productions, Inc., [year]". It otherwise looks the same as it did in January 1976.
  • On January 18:
    • The applause machine is not used.
    • The category displays are purple/magenta, matching Susan's outfit.
    • Round 1 is the first known appearance of Quotation: SING A SONG OF SIXPENCE.
    • Ed calls G on Free Spin, after which Chuck asks him to spin again. He is held to the G on his next turn, which is in the puzzle.
    • After Round 1, Ed places all of his $1,775 on account without buying a prize. Later, Chuck tells him that $1,775 is a new record for money put on account.
    • Round 2 is the first known instance outside of the Second Edition game of a "plural" category: in this case, People.
    • During Round 3, Ed uses his Free Spin to call a repeated S. Although the buzzer sounds and Chuck does not acknowledge it as a repeat, Susan can be seen pointing to the Used Letter Board and saying "It's been called!"

February 1978:

  • Sometime this year, contestant Robbie Goldstein (or Goldstein Diamond) plays on at least two episodes. Her daughter, Erin, appears as a contestant on April 21, 2011 and relates the aforementioned.
  • February 6 is Brides Week, presumably played like the 1977 one. Roselon Industries, specifically including R. R. Adams (company president) and Tom Dove (Vice President of Merchandising), commends the show's staff "on the excellence of their fashion presentation" in a Variety advert on the 2nd.
  • As of February 10, Jeff Goldstein is still director. Sometime afterward, possibly by April 6, he is replaced by Dick Carson.
March 1978:
RedCategories
WOF (1978) Beth Carol Mary Ann.mp4 snapshot 12.08 -2015.07.05 18.26.12-

Sheldon's cousin?

GordonMacRae

Gordon MacRae stops by.

3-15-78 End
  • On an episode sometime this month, likely before the 15th (Barbara/Herb/Pat, taped in February):
    • The show's logo is present at the end of the opening, and the end of Charlie's intro is "And now, here's your host: Chuck Woolery!"
    • The category displays are purple, matching Susan's outfit.
    • Lose A Turn has a white stripe down the left side and a thick black line down the right.
    • Pat puts $15 on account after Round 1.
    • During Round 3, Chuck mistakes the Final Spin chimes for the "only vowels remain" beeps, and is corrected from offstage.
    • Barbara purchases a 1978 Camaro for $6,125 after Round 3.
  • On March 15 (Carol/Beth/Maryann):
    • The category displays are red, matching Susan's outfit.
    • The prize cue in Round 2 ends up running out, with the cue used for Round 1 taking its place after a brief pause.
    • Following Round 2, Chuck notes that the show has given away a total of three or four "ceramic dogs" (in this specific instance, a ceramic St. Bernard) and asks the staff whether one of the dogs had puppies.
    • Just prior to the Round 3 segment, a voice (presumably the director) can be heard saying "3, 2, 1, cue the [uncertain word]."
    • Round 4 is played for a gift certificate, since in Chuck's words "we're all shopped out".
    • During Round 4, the trilon containing the E in the puzzle EASTER PARADE noticeably squeaks as Susan turns it.
    • The Speed-Up is played until only vowels remain, at which point the "only vowels remain" beeps sound. It is not known if this was normal practice at the time.
    • Gordon MacRae makes an appearance after the game, presumably because (as he notes) he is a fan of the show, and he was taping a special at the NBC Burbank studios at the time. Gordon spins the Wheel (although the result is not shown or acknowledged), and signs off alongside Chuck and Susan.
  • By March 15:
    • Charlie's intro is changed to "Look at these extravagant prizes! Fabulous merchandise, just waiting to be won today on Wheel of Fortune!" followed by the description of three prizes, and then "Total retail value: over [amount]! And now, here's your host: Chuck Woolery!"
    • A rule is added requiring players to solve the puzzle exactly as it is shown on the board. (Although it was very likely added much earlier, this is the first known instance of Chuck pointing out the rule; he does not do so in the surviving 1976 episodes.)
    • The beginning of the sponsor list is slightly altered: "PAID" moves up to the first line, "FURNISHED PRIZES" to the second, "NBC FOR PROMOTING" to the third, and "THEIR PRODUCTS:" to the fourth.
    • The credits which use the computerized displays are now standardized: all characters are the same size.
    • The Merv Griffin Productions graphic is noticeably altered: "WHEEL OF FORTUNE Is Produced by" is added above it on two lines, and the logo itself is shrunk down. The copyright byline still looks the same as it did on January 18.
  • As of March 15 (or Barbara/Herb/Pat, whichever is later), the $400 near Free Spin is still blue.
  • As of March 15, the chroma-key closing shot is still in regular use.
    StarBonus4778
  • The Star Bonus token is introduced sometime between March 16 and April 6, placed on the orange $100 next to Free Spin during Round 1, the gold $100 in Round 2, and $150 in Round 3. The token cannot be lost to Bankrupt nor forfeited by failing to solve the round's puzzle, but is removed from the Wheel following Round 3 to play a fourth round. There are three known Star Bonus Rounds, mentioned below.

April 1978:

  • On April 5, contestant Karen retires with $16,334.
  • Veteran game show contestant Scott Hostetler plays on April 6 and 7.
  • By April 6 (Scott/Glenda/Gail):
    • Some contestant nametags begin using a thicker font and have varying lengths based on the length of each player's name. The old fixed-length nametags continue to appear on an increasingly sporadic basis through the end of the shopping era.
    • The blue $400 near Free Spin becomes red, presumably because it sat next to a blue $300.
    • The chroma-key shot of the Wheel at the end of the show is removed.
    • A copyright symbol (©) is added to the front of the Merv Griffin Productions copyright byline.
  • On April 6:
    • The category displays are light blue, matching Susan's outfit.
    • The first commercial outro is a closeup of the Star Bonus token, zooming out to a full shot of the Wheel.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up, although against normal practice, the Final Spin chimes play just after returning from commercial.
    • The category display is not present during the Speed-Up round until the third turn.
    • The buzzer accidentally sounds on a correct letter in Round 4.
    • Chuck and Susan do not sign off; rather, the final segment begins with the fee plugs.
  • As of April 6, the money graphic still looks the same as it did on June 7, 1976.
  • On April 7 (Scott/Peggy/Laura):
    • Various shots of Chuck in front of the curtain appear to have been added in post-production due to the Star Bonus, particularly the commercial outro and intro during Round 2.
    • The Round 1 puzzle LOVEY-DOVEY is one of the few known puzzles not to contain any of the five most common consonants.
    • During Round 1, the buzzer does not sound after Peggy calls S, and the ding sounds after she calls M. Later, the buzzer sounds just as Scott starts to spin.
    • During the Speed-Up round, the category is displayed on a blue-colored bar. The audience applauds for the first correct letter. Shortly afterward, the buzzer accidentally sounds twice. A turn later, the buzzer does not sound to signal the end of Laura's turn.
    • After the final shopping segment, Chuck mistakenly offers the "on account" option.
    • Peggy sweeps the game. Afterward, as Chuck mentions that Scott has the Star Bonus, the camera zooms out too far and to the right.
    • The Star Bonus Round is played, which results in the contestant interviews being edited down considerably. The prizes are a trip to Las Vegas (Easy; $675), a sterling-silver tea set (Medium; $2,303), a diamond pendant (Hard; $4,060), and a Porsche 924 (Difficult; $13,586). Scott plays for the car, but fails to solve PABLO PICASSO.
    • Charlie's closing spiel about the prizes is overlaid by a different voice saying "Additional prizes furnished by Jockey Club Resort, Bob Smith Porsche Audi.", although Charlie is still audible underneath.
  • As of April 7, the eligibility disclaimer is still using the same wording as it did in January 1976.
  • On April 24, the show moves to 11:30 AM.

May 1978:

  • According to personal recollections, at least two more Star Bonus Rounds are played during the token's life: another Difficult (KNOCK ON WOOD) and a Medium (TOSSED GREEN SALAD), with RSTNE picked for both.

June 1978:

  • The Star Bonus may still be in use at this point, as a Match Game episode taped in May or June (specifically, the June 26 debut of the Star Wheel) contains a reference to it.

July 1978:

August 1978:

  • At the end of this month, as mentioned in the October 16 issue of Broadcasting (Page 38), Wheel holds 15th place among all daytime network shows, tied with the second half of The Price Is Right. At this point, it draws a 6.1 on the Nielsen ratings system with a 27 share; among the then-coveted demographic of women 18-49, it is in 22nd place with a 1.15.

September 1978:

October 1978:
Danny DuMiller on Wheel of Fortune (Armed Forces Week) 1 of 5.flv snapshot 00.14 -2017.05.04 21.47.17-
Danny DuMiller on Wheel of Fortune (Armed Forces Week) 1 of 5.flv snapshot 10.31 -2017.05.04 22.24.05-
  • For at least part of this month, pumpkins and gourds are used as decorations on the prize platforms.
  • The show's first Armed Forces Week is held sometime this month (likely October 16, and before the 23rd in any case). It features representatives from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marines playing, with the three highest-scoring branches returning for the "all-cash playoffs" on Friday. During this week:
    • The puzzle board has red, white, and blue stars placed above the top row of trilons and below the bottom row.
    • The curtain has the Great Seal of the United States on the portion directly behind Chuck.
    • The usual "right letter" ding is replaced with a different one; specifically, one also heard on the 1980s incarnations of The $25,000 Pyramid and The $100,000 Pyramid.
    • An instrumental of one of the branch's official songs plays over the credits instead of "Big Wheels".
    • The Star Bonus is not present. While this would normally suggest it was retired by this point, it is possible that the token was simply not used for special weeks, much like the eventual daytime Jackpot wedge (see "September 1986" for more).
  • On the Tuesday show of this week (Tom {Navy}/Dan {Air Force}/Stan {Army}):
    • When Chuck introduces Susan, the usual cue for her entrance plays for about a second, stops, then starts again.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • It takes nine turns to reveal any letters in the Round 1 puzzle JOHN WAYNE.
    • After Round 1, when Dan asks to put his remaining money on a gift certificate, he accidentally says "birth certificate" at first.
    • During Round 2, after Dan spins the Wheel, Chuck stops it in mid-spin because Dan "really didn't put [his] heart and soul into it" (in Chuck's words) and makes him spin again.
    • After Dan buys a pickup truck following Round 2, Susan can be seen getting into the driver's seat of it, as Chuck jokes "we'll see if Susan can drive that!" Once Charlie gets to the truck plug, Chuck can be seen beside the truck, near the driver's side door, helping to push it along as Susan steers it around to in front of the prize platform.
    • As there is a commercial break during Round 3, the Final Spin chimes do not sound when Chuck goes to spin the Wheel coming out of the commercial.
    • During the Speed-Up, Dan bends down to spin the Wheel during his first turn before catching himself.
    • Dan sweeps the game.
    • Before signing off, Chuck recaps the branches' totals for the first two days of the week: the Air Force has $12,650, the Army has $2,050, and the Marines and Navy are both at $0.
    • The sign-off uses the chroma-key shot of the Wheel.
    • The ticket/contestant plug is done on a blue background, with a white box around the text, between the fee plugs and sponsor list, the address being "WHEEL OF FORTUNE 1541 No. VINE STREET HOLLYWOOD CA, 90028" on four lines. While the practice of using such a plug was likely in place since the premiere week, it is not known how the plugs were presented prior to this episode.
    • As the sponsor list scrolls, Charlie mentions that due to the answer being inadvertently revealed, one of the puzzles was discarded and the program edited.
  • The Wednesday show features the Marines vs. the Navy vs. the Air Force.
  • On the Friday episode (Dan {Air Force}/Mary {Marines}/Jerry {Army}):
    • "The Marines' Hymn" (the Marine Corps song/anthem) is played during the opening.
    • Charlie's intro ends with "And now, here's your host and hostess: Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford!" They are welcomed onstage by the Marine Corps color guard from the Los Angeles Marine Corps recruiting station, which enters through the center of the curtain. This is the first known time that the hosts are introduced together, and the first of only two known instances of such an intro in the Woolery era.
    • For the first known time, a full episode is played for cash (the hour-long shows played for cash in the Head-To-Head round). The prize platforms, which were used on Monday-Thursday, are not present; the curtain remains lowered throughout, only opening for the color guard's entrance and exit during the intro.
    • Each of the finalist teams, comprising three members, selects one player to represent them during the day's "all-cash playoffs", with any money won by those players split among all three members of the teams.
    • Initially, all nine contestants are present at the podiums, with the two non-competing members of each team leaving the stage as Chuck announces which member has been chosen to play.
    • The category displays are white, although Susan is wearing red.
    • During Round 1, Dan tries to buy a vowel after spinning, but Chuck reminds him that he must call a consonant.
    • Due to the all-cash format, the round structure is altered slightly to retain the Round 2 layout for Round 3, with the standard Round 3 layout (with $1,500 as top value) used for Rounds 4+.
    • Rounds 3 and 4 are played in the same segment, with an obvious edit just before the reveal of the Round 4 puzzle.
    • The Round 5 puzzle GENERAL GEORGE PATTON is the first known instance of a Person puzzle using a descriptive phrase, although this would not become a regular occurrence until about 1989.
    • No vowels are bought in Rounds 3 or 5.
    • For the first known time (and the only known time in the Woolery era), six rounds are played. Likely as a result, there are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1, 4, and 6, Person in Rounds 3 and 5. This also results in the first known instance of a category being used three times in one game (in this case, Phrase).
    • At the end of the episode, Chuck recaps the end-of-week totals as well as the score for the day: The Air Force finish with $15,650 ($3,000 of it in cash), the Marines finish with $8,050 ($4,550 of it in cash), and the Army has $7,300 ($2,650 of it in cash).
  • By the above week:
    • The money graphic's dollar sign is now centered next to the numbers.
    • The eligibility disclaimer is slightly altered: "WERE" becomes "ARE", while a comma is added after "REQUIREMENTS".
  • As of the Friday show of the above week, the 7's on the Wheel still have a round bottom, and $900 is still next to Bankrupt in Rounds 2+.

November 1978:

  • Episode #1,000 likely airs in November or December.
  • Wheel does not air on November 23 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
December 1978:
ChristmasDay1978
  • On December 25, Chuck's wife (Jo Ann Pflug) and daughter (Melissa) make an appearance, as does Charlie in a Santa Claus costume (itself his first known on-camera appearance). The photo at right, showing Chuck, Jo Ann, Melissa, Charlie, and Susan in front of the puzzle board (reading HAPPY HOLIDAYS), is the only known remnant of this episode.

1979Edit

January 1979:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.

February 1979:

March 1979:

  • By March 2 (Angela/Leo/Juanita):
    • Charlie's intro is slightly altered to replace "extravagant" with "luxurious".
    • The Wheel is slightly modified:
      • The Star Bonus is retired, an event which very likely happened much earlier.
      • The 7's are altered to have a flat bottom.
      • The Bankrupt next to $900 in Rounds 2+ is swapped with the $200 three spaces counterclockwise. This was likely done to even out the Wheel, as the two Bankrupts had been separated by just five cash wedges in Round 2 and eight in Rounds 3+.
    • The "right letter" ding has reverted to the usual sound.
  • On March 2:
    • The category displays are red, matching Susan's outfit.
    • For the first known time during this era, the puzzle board's chase light sequence is reversed, going counterclockwise.
    • The buzzer does not sound on an incorrect letter in Round 2.
  • On March 27 (Gwen/Brian/Anita):
    • The audience can be heard muttering for a few seconds in the opening before "Big Wheels" begins.
    • The category displays are blue, matching Susan's outfit.
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • The first three spins of Round 2 are all Bankrupt, to which Chuck responds by beginning his Round 2 intro spiel again. After that, the next spins are Lose A Turn, an incorrect letter, and a fourth Bankrupt, with no letters being revealed in the puzzle FOURSCORE AND SEVEN YEARS AGO until the seventh turn. Overall, Bankrupt is hit a total of six times, which may be a one-round record - although interestingly, no money is lost.
    • In Round 2, Susan turns the V too hard, causing the plastic letter sheet to slide partway off the trilon.
    • Round 3 is the first known appearance of Occupation.
    • Chuck's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt; his second attempt lands on $1,500.
    • Likely due to the longer-than-usual Round 2, Chuck and Susan do not sign off; rather, the final segment begins with the fee plugs.
  • As of March 27, the money graphic still looks the same way it did in October 1978.
  • As of March 27, Charlie's closing spiel about the prizes is still the same as it was on July 15, 1975.
  • By March 27, Roselon Industries begins providing Susan's wardrobe.

April 1979:

May 1979:

  • Summer returns on May 24 to fill in for Susan, who dislocated her shoulder in a car accident.
  • On May 31:
    Nickname53179
    • The category displays appear to be teal, matching Summer's outfit.
    • Nickname makes its first known appearance, in Round 1. It is not known if the category existed before this point (it is not present in the Milton Bradley games), had a consistent presence between here and mid-1988, or if it was retired and brought back sometime.
    • Contestant Hilarie puts $5 and $89 on account after Rounds 2 and 3, respectively.
    • During Round 3, Summer forgets to turn an X and is reminded by Chuck.
    • During the credits, Summer's wardrobe credit (Roselon, same as Susan's) accidentally appears briefly before the sponsor list.
  • As of May 31, the curtain is still visible during the final segment and credits.
  • On May 31, the eligibility disclaimer's font is thinner than usual, possibly a result of turning off the "bold" setting on the computer used to create the monospaced displays.
  • May 31 and June 1 may use the reversed chase light sequence, but this is uncertain due to the quality of the available footage.
  • Likely around this point, and into 1980, many games use a common theme to their puzzles.

June 1979:

  • By June 1, the dollar sign on the money graphic returns to being above the first number.
  • By June 1, puzzles begin to use apostrophes.
  • On June 1, the category displays are blue, matching Summer's outfit.
  • As of June 1:
    • "Big Wheels" is still played when going to commercial.
    • The Wheel's top values are still $500/$1,000/$1,500, and $125, $275, $650, and $850 are still present.
  • Cynthia Washington, ex-wife of former San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Gene Washington, fills in for Susan the week of June 4.
  • Susan returns on June 11.

July 1979:

August 1979:

September 1979:

  • Courtenay O'Connell plays on September 4 and 5 (taped August 14); on September 10, the St. Petersburg Times publishes an article about her experience.
  • On September 4, Courtenay purchases a blue $6,000+ Subaru BRAT following a single puzzle (known to be Phrase).

October 1979:

  • Wheel does not air on October 3 due to NBC News coverage of Pope John Paul II visiting the U.S.

November 1979:

  • Wheel does not air on November 22 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • A female contestant named Shauna plays on at least November 28 and 29, and is the basis of a documentary by Shauna Dillavou (born on the 28th and named after the aforementioned woman) called The Luckiest Shauna; Dillavou is known to have contacted Wheel looking for a copy of the November 28 show, but it does not seem to exist (she was not aware of returning champions until viewing the 1976 and 1978 episodes held by Paley Center).

December 1979:

  • For this month, the puzzle board and contestant area are decorated for Christmas. Also, many Christmas-themed prizes are available for purchase.
  • By this point, at least one trilon is noticeably squeaky. This can be heard on December 4 when Susan reveals the D in the Round 3 puzzle RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL, and again on the 31st when she turns the same trilon to reveal the E in the Round 3 puzzle TERRY BRADSHAW.
  • As of December 4, Charlie's opening spiel is still the same as it was on March 2 and the money graphic still looks the same as it did on June 1.
  • By December 4 (Susan/Lea/Ginger), the Wheel is overhauled:
    • The colors are altered, most notably the use of only one shade of blue and orange.
    • The top values in Rounds 1 and 3 are increased to $750 and $2,000, respectively.
    • The configurations are modified again:
      • Round 1: $750 replaces the $500 next to Bankrupt, the sole $125 is decreased to $100 and swaps positions with the brown $500, the sole $275 is decreased to $250, and the orange $500 is increased to $600. As a result, $175 is the only remaining value that does not end in -00 or -50.
      • Round 2: The sole $100 is increased to $150, the $600 by Lose A Turn is lowered to a yellow $400, the sole $350 is lowered to $200, and the sole $650 is decreased to $550. This is believed to be the first appearance of $550 since the 1974 pilots; $650 does not return as a cash value until 2012, at the start of the 30th nighttime season.
      • Rounds 3+: The sole $850 is reduced to $700, the sole $450 becomes $200, and $2,000 replaces $400 and swaps positions with the neighboring $350.
  • By December 4, a new music cue is introduced for all commercial breaks. While composed by Alan Thicke, the tune is very similar to The Grass Roots' 1971 song "Temptation Eyes".
  • On December 4:
    • The category displays are light blue, matching Susan's outfit.
    • The first spin of Round 3 is likely a reshoot, as Chuck overreacts to Ginger's landing on $300.
    • Lea calls a repeated P in the Speed-Up, but it is not acknowledged as such.
    • During the Speed-Up (in Round 3), the category display is present on the players' half of the screen, which itself is zoomed too far out.
    • At the beginning of the subsequent shopping round, an oak-framed bathroom mirror (part of a $302 oak bathroom-accessory set) shows a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away. Later, as Charlie describes it, the mirror shows a reflection of the Used Letter Board and an unknown staff member.
  • By December 13:
    • Charlie's closing spiel about the prizes is amended to end with "Gift certificates do not include sales tax."
    • The curtain is no longer seen during the final segment and credits.
    • The eligibility disclaimer removes most of the space after each comma and adds a period to the end.
  • By December 31 (Lou/Allan/Jackie):
    • Charlie's intro is slightly altered to again replace "luxurious" with "extravagant".
    • The dollar sign on the money graphic is moved down, lining up with the bottoms of the numbers. Strangely, it does not zoom in.
    • Holiday decorations are added to the curtain.
    • The prize manufacturer tags are now smaller; their font is changed to Peignot Bold.
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is replaced by an electric-guitar cue.
  • On December 31:
    • During Round 2, the puzzle-solve cue accidentally plays for a second instead of the "only vowels remain" beeps (itself played a second later). Once the puzzle is solved, the cue begins playing from the point it was cut off.
    • Rounds 1 and 2 are played entirely by the contestant who began them.
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based commercial cue is used for the prize descriptions after Round 3.
    • In Round 4, the category chimes are played over a shot of Chuck.
    • Allan retires with $15,425, which Chuck mistakenly reads as $1,425 until being corrected from offstage.
    • For the first known time, the post-game chat is not done at or near the Wheel: Chuck and Susan sit at part of the Round 3 prize platform and promote their appearance during the Tournament of Roses pre-parade on January 1.
    • "Auld Lang Syne" plays from Chuck and Susan's sign-off through the end of the credits.
    • The eligibility disclaimer does not have its commas. As they are present on March 20, 1980, it is not certain whether this comma-less version was used for more than one episode.
  • As of December 31, the wedge next to $1,500 is still $200.

1980Edit

January 1980:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • On at least one show this year, Chuck wears a tuxedo. This may be from a Brides Week.
  • The first known Teen Week is held sometime this year. During this week, a then-unknown Bob Bergen is a contestant, and among his prizes is a Rolex watch. Only a single picture of his appearance is known to exist, posted by Bergen on his Facebook page in January 2014.
  • Sometime this year, adult film actor Ron Jeremy appears as a contestant (under his real name of Ron Hyatt) following the death of his mother. Among his winnings is a trip to Mazatlán.

February 1980:

March 1980:

  • On March 19, contestant Becky puts money on account. According to comments the next day, this works to her advantage.
  • On March 20 (Charlene/Becky/Les):
    • Charlene gets two Free Spins in a row during Round 1.
    • During Round 1, Chuck forgets on two separate occasions to ask if a contestant wants to use their Free Spin following an incorrect letter call.
    • Les' microphone falls off during Round 2. He quickly retrieves it, and it is reattached during the commercial break.
    • Becky puts $240 on account after Round 2, but loses it to Bankrupt on her only spin of Round 3.
    • During Round 3, the contestants are shown turning their backs during the mid-round commercial outro. As Chuck throws to break, a female voice (possibly one of the contestants) is heard saying "That means there's no time for a [uncertain word]". As Chuck does the Final Spin right after the show returns from commercial, the voice may have been referring to there being no time for a fourth round.
    • No music is played during the commercial outro after Round 3.
  • By March 20, the $200 next to $1,500 is increased to $800.
  • By March 20, the closing segment once again uses a shot of Chuck and Susan chroma-keyed into the center of the Wheel.
  • As of March 20:
    • Charlie's intro still uses "extravagant".
    • The electric-guitar cue is still used when going to commercial in all segments.
    • At least some shows still use themed puzzles (in this case: VINTAGE WINE, DRINK TO ME ONLY WITH THINE EYES, and SOBER AS A JUDGE).
  • On March 25 (Mazel/Bob/Kevin):
    • The category displays are blue, matching Susan's outfit.
    • During Round 3, Susan turns all four A's in the puzzle RAIN RAIN GO AWAY before they light up or their respective bells play.
    • The buzzer does not sound on an incorrect letter in Round 4.
    • Following Round 4, the camera suddenly shifts to the right as Kevin selects his first prize.
    • In a rare event for the shopping era, five rounds are played. Chuck refers to it as being the "first time in a long time".
    • Following the game, Chuck and Susan note that it is the last episode of unit manager Rob Keith, whom they say goodbye to. Rob is not present on the full credit roll and the only person listed as unit manager is Michael Koljan.
    • Chuck and Susan's signoff is quite different from usual: "I'm Chuck Woolery," "And I'm Susan Stafford." "See you all tomorrow, bye-bye everybody." "Bye-bye, God bless!"
    • The ticket/contestant plug has been slightly altered to remove the white box from around the text. It otherwise looks the same as it did during the Armed Forces Week in October 1978.
    • Very strangely, the eligibility disclaimer misspells "FURNISHED" as "FURNISHD", and as a result "WITH" is one space further to the left than usual.
  • By March 25, Charlie's intro reverts to using "luxurious".
  • By March 25, the "Temptation Eyes"-based commercial outro cue returns for all breaks.
  • As of March 25, the money graphic still looks the same as it did on December 31, 1979.
  • As of March 25, there is still a $150 next to $600 in Rounds 2+.

April 1980:

May 1980:

  • On May 6, a champion retires undefeated.
  • On May 7 (Paul/Diane/Cathy):
    • All three contestants are left-handed; one of them, Cathy, is from Paris.
    • During Round 1, Diane lands on Free Spin and, after receiving a token, tries to call an S. After her next spin, she is credited with the S, which is in the puzzle.
    • Early in Round 2, the trilon containing the P in STOP LOOK AND LISTEN is accidentally lit after T is called. The mistake is quickly corrected.
    • In Round 3, the contestants are shown turning their backs during the mid-round outro.
    • After the game, Chuck and Susan address rumors about the show's cancellation; while dispelling them, Susan notes that NBC's daytime schedule will be undergoing a few changes. Chuck replies with "In the meantime, we're gonna be doing this show until we get it right!"
  • By May 7:
    • The money graphic is again altered to center the dollar sign, as it was on March 2, 1979.
    • The show begins using both "new" commercial cues: the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue after each round, and the electric-guitar cue for mid-round breaks.
    • The $150 next to $600 in Rounds 2+ is increased to $250.

June 1980:

  • On June 9 (Fred/Lu/Heidi):
    • Heidi begins to call Z during Round 2, but stops herself and calls D instead. She is credited with the D, which is in the puzzle.
    • Chuck's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn. His second attempt lands on $2,000.
  • By June 9, the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is again used for mid-round breaks (in this case, during Round 3) and the electric-guitar cue is not used at all.
  • By June 20 (Ken/Linda/Charlotte), the money graphic returns to its style from March 25.
  • On June 20:
    • Chuck makes an odd comment to Susan after her entrance, saying she looks like "a little Swedish girl".
    • Charlie coughs briefly during the second prize plug, which Chuck brings up before Round 2.
    • Following Round 2, Charlotte reluctantly says "[I'll] take the...candy dish.", after which Chuck talks to her and the purchase is discarded. Following the prize plugs, Chuck remarks that the Marc Chagall print she bought is better than the other one the show had from him, that being "seventeen lizards sucking on an orange".
    • The slide whistle does not sound when Bankrupt is first hit in Round 3.
    • There is no inlaid contestant shot during the Round 3 shopping portion.
    • Chuck's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.
    • After the game, Chuck and Susan discuss the waiting period for prize delivery (90 days). When asked by Chuck, an offstage staffer says they're shipped "whenever we get around to it".
  • By June 20, the commercial outro cues are changed up again: the electric-guitar cue is used after Rounds 1 and 4, plus the break during Round 3; the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used after Rounds 2 and 3.
  • Also on June 20, NBC airs a promo detailing the new schedule to begin the following Monday. The promo includes a Wheel clip of a female contestant right after solving CREPES SUZETTE (Things), and apparently screaming so loud that Chuck is seen with his hand up to his ear.

July 1980:

August 1980:

  • August 1 is taped as the series finale, due to a cancellation order from NBC boss Fred Silverman that is overturned by the time it airs. The episode features an appearance by Chuck's then-wife, Jo Ann Pflug. It is also Charlie's last regular episode until February 1989, as he leaves to announce The Toni Tennille Show.
  • On August 4, the show moves back to 11:00 AM.
  • Don Morrow fills in as announcer after Charlie's departure, likely announcing only the week of the 4th.
  • The August 4 episode opens with Chuck joking about the show's demise.
  • Jack Clark likely takes over as announcer on August 11.
  • On an episode probably from the week of August 4 or 11 (though known not to be August 13), Chuck urges viewers to call the number of the studio where Wheel tapes, giving it out on-air. The resulting 13,000+ calls cause blackouts in a few suburbs and a cutoff threat to be issued from the phone company; this results in the installation of a new, high-capacity phone line.
  • On August 13 (Steve/Kathie/Grace):
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based commercial cue is used for the prize descriptions after Round 1.
    • The Round 2 puzzle (DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION) is, at 28 letters, the longest known puzzle (by letter count) using the original puzzle board.
    • Grace puts $24 on account following Round 2, but does not claim it.
    • In Round 4, the buzzer sounds on the first wrong letter of the Speed-Up.
    • Steve retires with $10,350.
    • Jeff Goldstein directs, suggesting that he returned to the show part-time when Carson was unavailable.
    • On this episode, the Merv Griffin Productions graphic omits the "WHEEL OF FORTUNE Is Produced by" portion at the top.
  • By August 13:
    • The electric-guitar cue is used when going to commercial in all segments.
    • The ticket/contestant plug begins to be done over the spinning Wheel, which leads more seamlessly into the sponsor list. The font of the plug is also thinner.
  • The above episode is partially pre-empted (on the West Coast, at least) by an NBC News Special Report from the Democratic National Convention; the show is joined-in-progress near the start of the contestant interviews.
  • On August 22 (Carole/Mike/Nancy):
    • Mike is originally from South Africa, but living in Canada.
    • The ding fails to sound in Round 3 after the A's are purchased. Later, the buzzer sounds on a correct letter.
    • Chuck's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.
    • The buzzer sounds on a wrong letter during the Speed-Up, and again over the puzzle-solve cue.
    • Mike wins despite losing $3,750 to Bankrupt in Round 3.
    • The Wheel does not spin during the credits, and the camera shot is zoomed out farther than usual.
  • By August 22, the commercial outro cues are changed up once again: the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used when going to commercial during and after Round 3.
  • As of August 22, the beginning of the sponsor list still looks the same as it did on March 15, 1978.
  • Alex Trebek fills in for Chuck around this point, most likely the week of the 25th. Trebek recalls this fact on a 1991 episode of To Tell the Truth, although he does so in reference to the fact that Charlie was filling in as announcer on that show at the time.

September 1980:

  • At least September 15-18 feature NBC soap opera stars: Josh Taylor (Days of Our Lives) appears on the 15th, Ben Thomas (The Doctors) on the 16th, Barbara Rucker (Texas) on the 17th, and Douglass Watson (Another World) on the 18th. It was likely similar to Game Show Hosts Week, mentioned below.

October 1980:

  • On October 8 (Sonny/Ruth/Janet):
    • The opening logo is smaller than usual.
    • The Round 1 puzzle THINGAMAJIG is the first known instance of a one-word Phrase. 11 incorrect letters are called in this round, including six in a row.
    • Chuck's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn twice in a row.
    • Chuck and Susan do not sign off; rather, the final segment begins with the fee plugs.
  • By October 8, the commercial outro cues are changed up again: the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue and the electric-guitar cue now alternate commercial spots (in this case, the former is used after Rounds 1, 2, and 4 while the latter is used during Round 2 and after Round 3).
  • By October 8, the beginning of the sponsor list is altered again: only the first letter of each word remains upper-case, and "NBC" is replaced by "The Production Company", resulting in "To" being moved to the second line and "Promoting" to the fourth. The colon is removed, and the first line is left-justified (leaving a gap above "To").
  • Sometime this month (probably the week of October 20), an NBC promo airs detailing the new lineup following Letterman's departure. The promo includes brief clips of a Wheel episode probably from around this point.

November 1980:

  • By around this point, the show generally stops using a common theme for all puzzles.
  • November 3-6 (and possibly October 31 as well) is Game Show Hosts Week, with NBC emcees playing for members of the audience, who also determine what prizes to buy in shopping rounds. The host competes against two contestants who play normally, but other than making the curtain entrance with Susan is otherwise a normal player (including participation in drawing numbers before taping to determine position). Wink Martindale and Jim Perry are among the participants, and it is rumored that Art Fleming also played.
  • According to one recollection, Perry plays on November 4 (taped October 18).
  • Bill Cullen plays on November 5, and based on comments the next day ("He blitzed everybody."), he sweeps the game. As many shows that had Cullen participating took measures to accommodate his limp, Bill and Susan likely entered from Chuck's left.
  • On November 6, Tom Kennedy plays for Art against Monty and Minnie, winning $1,400. During the interviews, Chuck moves on to the next player (Monty) before being reminded about the audience member from offstage. A slightly echoed female voice is heard briefly during this, possibly Nancy Jones in her first known on-air appearance.
  • By November 6, the electric-guitar commercial cue is moved to the mid-show consolation prize plug (although it is barely audible on the 6th). The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is now the only one used for commercial breaks.
  • As of November 6, Jack's intro still uses "luxurious".
  • November 7 begins the show's second Armed Forces "Week", plugged as such despite being stated on the previous show as beginning "tomorrow" (Friday).
  • Immediately following the Armed Forces episodes is Celebrity Week on the Town, possibly played like Game Show Hosts Week.
  • Minnie, the returning champion from November 6, probably returns on the 24th.
  • Wheel does not air on November 27 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1980:

  • By December 18, and probably for the entire month, the set is decorated for Christmas in much the same way as 1979, albeit with a wreath on the curtain and thicker foliage behind the contestants.
  • By December 18, Jack's intro reverts to using "extravagant".
  • On December 18 (Laura/Joyce/Barbara):
    • Chuck's cord gets caught on the nearby car as he makes his entrance.
    • The contestant score displays are tinted yellow. They are normal on November 6 and December 24.
    • The shopping cue begins in the wrong place after Round 2, then starts again from the beginning.
    • After Round 3, the camera fails to switch to the first prize until Jack is halfway through describing it.
    • Joyce retires with $17,550.
  • As of December 18, the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is still the only one used for commercial breaks.
  • By December 24, the commercial cues are changed up once again: for the first time in over a year, "Big Wheels" is used when going to commercial during Round 1 and after Round 3; the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used after Round 2, while the electric-guitar cue remains at the mid-show consolation prize plug.
  • On December 24 (Vicki/Bud/Linda):
    • The category displays are red, matching Susan's outfit.
    • Vicki's first spin runs into an error which is not explained clearly on-air, primarily since the error and resolution happen while the camera is focused on the puzzle board; the Wheel is reset, and she spins again.
    • During Vicki's first turn, for no apparent reason, an "8" appears on the display behind her.
    • For only the fourth known time, there is a commercial break during Round 1.
    • Chuck mistakenly says that the top dollar amount in Round 2 is $2,000.
    • The Round 2 puzzle SLEIGHBELLS RING ARE YOU LIST'NIN' is the first known instance of multiple punctuation marks, and the largest known puzzle using the original puzzle board (all but nine trilons), and at 28 letters ties the record of longest puzzle (by letter count) using the original puzzle board. It is solved by Linda for a then-massive $6,700.
    • After Linda buys a Mazda following Round 2, Susan is seen closing the driver's-side door from the inside. Once Jack gets to the car plug, Susan drives it around to stop in front of the prize displays, honks the horn, and gets out.
    • The buzzer does not sound on an incorrect letter during Round 4.
    • Bud finishes in second place with a then-high $4,300, and Chuck notes that this would normally be a winning score.
    • No music is played during the commercial outro after Round 4.

1981Edit

January 1981:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • Wheel does not air on January 20 due to coverage of Ronald Reagan's inauguration.

February 1981:

  • An Armed Forces Week is done sometime this year, most likely in a "sweeps" month and definitely by November 30. It likely uses the same format as the October 1978 week.
    • During this week, the puzzle board has red, white, and blue stars placed above the top row of trilons and below the bottom row. The rest of the set is almost certainly decorated as well.
  • At least one episode of Armed Forces Week (not including the Friday show) is known to exist, held by contestant Bill Hammel. A short clip from Round 1 can be seen here.
  • On the Friday episode of the above week (Mark {Marines}/Don {Army}/Jay {Air Force}):
    • "Into the Wild Blue Yonder" (the Air Force song/anthem) is played during the opening, fee plugs, and credits.
    • Jack's intro ends with "And now, here's your host and hostess: Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford!" They are escorted onstage by the honor guard from the 22nd combat support group at March Air Force Base (now March Joint Air Reserve Base). This is the second known time that the hosts are introduced together, and the second of only two known instance of such an intro in the Woolery era.
    • Chuck does not appear to do the opening spin.
    • For the second known time, a full episode is played for cash. The prize platforms, which were used on Monday-Thursday and whose prizes were not split (assuming the 1978 format was used this week), are likely not present (as was the case during the 1978 week) or have the prizes replaced by Armed Forces logos and the like (and in the latter case, may be directly adjacent to support larger items such as banners).
    • A strange incident occurs in Round 2: the puzzle is initially revealed as Quotation, but about halfway through the round Chuck announces that it is actually a Title (THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY). "Quotation" may have been present on the category display until the error was discovered, but this is uncertain.
    • All three contestants hit Bankrupt consecutively in Round 4.
    • The mid-show plug, for an Adam York gift certificate, is the only time Jack speaks during the game. He throws back to Chuck with "And now, the man with the money: Chuck Woolery!"
    • Five rounds are played, with a $750/$750/$1,000/$1,000/$2,000 structure and the second Bankrupt added in Round 3.
  • By the above episode, the electric-guitar cue returns to prominence: it is used after Rounds 2 and 4, during and after Round 5, and during the mid-show plug. It is not known what was used after Rounds 1 and 3, as the available copy of this episode (an audio recording) cuts directly from Rounds 1 to 2 and is missing the last portion of Round 3.
  • The Monday following Armed Forces Week begins "Celebrity Night on the Town", with various daytime stars. Chuck and Susan plug this on the above episode, stating that they will be going to Las Vegas; based on the below [City] Weeks, the Vegas trip likely consisted of location footage with the games played in Burbank.

March 1981:

April 1981:

  • April 13 is the second known Teen Week, and the first known use of the regular Friday Finals format: three contestants compete on Monday-Thursday, and the three biggest winners return on Friday to play for savings bonds.
    • The April 15 show is Craig/Hilary/Marianna.
    • The April 16 show has Ian in the first position and Dina in the third, and Ian sweeps the game. Among his prizes is a small gold whistle from Tiffany Jewelers, which he receives in-studio and gives to Dina.
    • April 17 is Ian/Dan/Craig, with $2,000 added in Round 5. The rest of the gameplay structure may be the same as the aforementioned Armed Forces show, but this is uncertain.
  • By April 21 (Virginia/Jan/Lori), the electric-guitar cue returns to use for all commercial breaks and the mid-show car plug.
  • On April 21:
    • Jack's introduction of Chuck is "And now, let's meet your host: Chuck Woolery!"
    • Chuck mentions his habit of licking his finger before touching the Wheel, and that the producer (unnamed, but very likely Nancy Jones) replied by saying "You don't know where that Wheel's been!" His reply is simply that "I don't care where that Wheel's been!"
    • Virginia attempts to spin the Wheel during the Speed-Up round, but is stopped by Chuck before she can do so.
    • Later in the Speed-Up round, the buzzer fails to sound to end a turn.
    • A few turns later, Susan turns the N too hard, causing the plastic letter sheet to slide partway off the trilon.
    • Lori sweeps the game.
    • After the game, Chuck mentions that about two weeks ago, he had brought up the fact that the show has done over 1,600 episodes. Susan then hopes the audience's income taxes turned out well and wishes her mother and Scott Page a happy birthday before the two sign-off.
  • As of April 21, the beginning of the sponsor list still looks the same as it did on October 8, 1980.

May 1981:

  • May 11 is San Francisco Week, with contestants from that city brought in to compete. This is the first known use of such a week.

June 1981:

  • June 8 is Brides Week, known to have been promoted during the June 8 episode of Blockbusters.
  • June 22 is San Antonio Week, done the same way as San Francisco Week.
  • According to one recollection, the Game Show Hosts Week of November 1980 is rerun the week of June 29, one of the only known instances of daytime Wheel airing repeats, although it is not known how long this practice was done.
    • For these airings, the original fee plugs are replaced by a new set of sponsors, and a cutaway is done afterward to a list of these sponsors. According to a Teen Week contestant (see below), the players are sent new parting gifts by Wheel in the form of checks from the replacement sponsors, "who hoped we'd use the money to buy some of their product".

July 1981:

  • If surrounding information is any indication, the week of July 6 also consists of repeats.
  • The Teen Week of April 13 is rerun the week of July 13.
  • Wheel does not air on July 29 due to coverage of the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.

August 1981:

September 1981:

  • September 21 is Portland Week, taped August 28 and done the same way as previous [City] Weeks. The week includes footage of Chuck and Susan at the Washington Park Rose Test Gardens, Portland's downtown mall, various fountains, the Columbia River Gorge, and the salmon fishing grounds near Astoria.
  • On an episode during Portland Week (Linda/Frank/Patsy):
    • The category displays are purple, somewhat matching Susan's outfit.
    • During a later round, Linda opts to solve the puzzle AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER before Frank tells her to spin again. She does so and hits Bankrupt, after which (following a mid-round break) he solves for $1,800.
  • The September 22 show (#1702) is Rick/Bernice/Patsy.
  • As of the above week:
    • The curtain remains visible during all non-shopping portions of the show, except the credits.
    • The electric-guitar cue is still used for at least one commercial break.
    • $2,000 is still red, and the nearby $250 is still gold.
    • The Speed-Up split-screen shot still has the puzzle (with category display) above the players.

October 1981:

  • Per the Vanderbilt archive, Wheel (along with the rest of NBC's programming) may have been preempted on October 6 by coverage on the assassination of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, which began at 8:40 AM Eastern.

November 1981:

  • Wheel does not air on November 26 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1981:

  • December 14 is Christmas Wish Week.
    • The opening for this week is "Look at these extravagant prizes! [three prizes are described] Total retail value: over [amount]! As we begin/continue Christmas Wish Week on Wheel of Fortune! And now, here's your host: Chuck Woolery!"
    • The five-and-a-vowel Bonus Round is in place by this point and referred to as the "Christmas Wish Bonus", suggesting that it was introduced this week. This may also have been a trial run exclusive to this week, as most sources indicate the five-and-a-vowel Bonus Round was introduced on the 28th.
    • Due to the presence of the Bonus Round, some games that run overtime by the end of Round 2 do not use the third prize showcase at all.
  • On December 18 (Terry/Debbie/Vivia):
    • After Terry says he will be a "househusband" in January, Chuck says that "I'll be a househusband on December 26.", indicating that this week was taped after his decision to leave Wheel.
    • Vivia is referred to as "Smitty" on her nametag and throughout the show.
    • During Round 2, two vowel calls (O and E) and their reveals on the board are done in complete silence, with no applause at any point.
    • An instrumental version of "Frosty the Snowman" plays during the Round 3 prize descriptions.
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are Thing, while the Bonus Round is Things.
    • Following the Bonus Round, Susan mentions the set changes to take effect the following Monday.
  • By December 18, the commercial outro cues are changed up once again: "Big Wheels" returns, used after Rounds 1, 3, and the Bonus Round plus the mid-show catalog plug; the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue also returns, used after Round 2.
  • The week of December 21 is Christmas in New York, done the same way as previous [City] Weeks.
    • The opening for this week is "Look at this glamorous set, filled with prizes! Fabulous and exciting merchandise including Christmas gifts, a diamond pin, bedroom furniture, a new car, home appliances! Over [amount] just waiting to be won today as we present Christmas in New York on Wheel of Fortune! And now, here's your host: Chuck Woolery!" The Wheel logo is not used, instead showing Susan walking in a light New York shower.
    • The curtain does not come down after Chuck's entrance on at least the 25th; rather, Susan walks out from next to the puzzle board as the turntable spins.
    • On at least the 25th, "HOTEL ACCOMODATIONS AND INTERVIEW FACILITIES FURNISHED BY HOTEL PARKER MERIDIEN NEW YORK" appears between the fee plugs and sponsor list, using the monospaced font on five lines over the spinning Wheel; on at least this occasion, "ACCOMMODATIONS" and "MERIDIAN" are misspelled.
  • On December 21:
    Wheel of Fortune 1982 Puzzleboard

    Bigger puzzles, more money.

    WideSetShot122581

    Glamorous, indeed.

    • The set is overhauled. From left to right:
      • The puzzle board adds an extra row and another nine trilons, for a total of 48 (11 on the top and bottom rows, 13 in the middle two). It also has a larger, ribbed, golden frame shaped like a sideways 3 whose chase lights move counterclockwise on the left side and clockwise on the right. The trilon designs and letter font are unchanged.
      • The three prize platforms are replaced by a single, large, three-sided turntable with two spiral-esque pillars flanking it and light-up white trees (which become green and brown depending on the time of year) to the sides of those. The turntable spins during the opening and credits, and rotates to each prize showcase depending on the round.
      • The Wheel's base is changed to a more golden look, with four layers: the top has small bulbs; the layer below it has flashing lights seen in overhead Wheel shots; the third has larger bulbs that flash six at a time when the spinning Wheel is seen from the base's perspective (three at a time for the other layers); and the bottom has sword blade-like spikes and bulbs similar to the third layer. The first three layers' lights continue to flash counterclockwise, while the bottom layer's lights continue to flash clockwise.
      • Brown arches are added under the railing, both in front of Chuck and between the displays, while the poles under Chuck's portion are painted brown.
      • The green glitter is removed from the contestant backdrops, and the displays are covered by sunbursts of the same color as the respective contestant's arrow with many white, square-edged "beams" spreading out in all directions. A large, gold ring surrounds each sunburst. As the sunbursts are little more than colored filters, they continue to show money put on account or total champion winnings with the same limitations.
    • Chuck's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt, to which he responds by mentioning that this is his last week.
  • On December 24:
    • Chuck announces that the next show will be his last.
    • After the game, Chuck and Susan show footage of their visit to New York.
    • "Sleigh Ride" is played during the fee plugs and credits.
  • By December 25 (Claudia/Betty/Sonny):
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is once again used for all commercial breaks, plus the mid-show plug for the airline which flew the players to California.
    • The $2,000 space and the nearby $250 swap positions, resulting in $250 becoming red and $2,000 becoming gold.
    • The first line of the sponsor list is re-centered.
  • December 25 is Chuck's last show. On this day:
    • Susan's entrance includes her blowing kisses to Chuck.
    • There is a commercial break during Round 1. Chuck erroneously states it has never happened before, despite there being at least four known prior instances.
    • The "only vowels remain" beeps do not sound in Round 1.
    • During Round 2, Chuck quips that one contestant (possibly Betty) is "the only person I've ever known to hit [Lose A Turn] seventeen times consecutively".
    • After recapping the scores and announcing the winner, Chuck thanks Susan for being a confidant over the previous years; he then thanks Jeff Goldstein, Dave Williger, John Rhinehart, Nancy Jones, Charlie O'Donnell, Jack Clark, Merv Griffin, Murray Schwartz, and NBC. Chuck follows this by admitting that leaving Wheel is "one of the most difficult things I've ever done".
    • No Bonus Round is played, further suggesting the Christmas Wish Bonus may have been a trial run.
    • "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is played during the fee plugs and credits.
    • As the sponsor list scrolls, Jack mentions that due to a technical difficulty, "a third puzzle was discarded and the program edited".
    • Following the sponsor list, Susan presents Chuck with a gift: a pair of goggles with wipers.
  • December 28 is Teen Week. As with the previous week, the Wheel logo is not used in the opening. Instead, the graphics say "Teen Week on Wheel of Fortune", with "Teen Week" in quotation marks.
  • On December 28 (Jim/Keith/Stacie), Pat Sajak becomes the show's host. On this day:
    • Jack's intro is changed to "Look at this studio, filled with glamorous prizes! Fabulous and exciting merchandise, including [five prizes are described]. Over [amount], just waiting to be won today on Wheel of Fortune!"
    • The curtain begins to descend once again upon the host's entrance. By this point, it only comes down for the hostess' entrance and remains out of sight for the rest of the show.
    • Pat thanks Chuck for hosting the show and wishes him well, then jokes that he is leaving the show as well.
    • The contestant interviews are obviously edited down, perhaps because of Pat's monologue.
    • The camera is zoomed too far back when the board is shown at the start of Round 1.
    • The commercial cues are changed up once again: the electric-guitar cue returns for use after Rounds 1 and 2, during the mid-show catalog plug, and after the Bonus Round, and the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue (sounding slightly different) is used during Round 2 and after Round 3.
    • Susan turns the hyphen in Round 2 before it lights up.
    • During Round 2, the camera zooms out from the $550 space while an incorrect letter is called.
    • The only vowel bought in the entire game is an A in Round 2.
    • Despite winning Round 2 with $2,650, Jim opts not to buy the $2,195 hot tub, instead purchasing the other 10 prizes in that showcase with the remaining $849 put on a gift certificate. The resulting prize copy runs a solid two minutes, and Pat remarks afterward about Jim not buying the hot tub.
    • Round 3 begins as a Speed-Up, played for a savings bond instead of a gift certificate.
    • The five-and-a-vowel Bonus Round is made permanent. On at least this episode, it is played in front of the yellow sunburst backdrop. The first bonus puzzle under the permanent format is FROSTY THE SNOWMAN; Jim picks T, R, N, S, H, and E as his letters, but does not solve the puzzle.
    • All of the puzzles are very short, with Round 1 and the Bonus Round being the longest at 16 letters each. This is the first known instance of the bonus puzzle being the longest one in a particular show.
  • By December 28, the Speed-Up split-screen display is reversed to have the puzzle on the bottom and contestants on top. Possibly as a result, the category display is dropped from Speed-Up rounds.
  • As of December 28:
    • The money graphic is still green and still zooms in.
    • Roselon Industries still provides Susan's wardrobe.
    • The "N" of the puzzle font still does not have a top-left serif.
  • Also during Pat's first week:
    • A contestant buys an incorrect vowel, and Pat tells the player to spin again. He is then told by Nancy Jones that the player has in fact lost their turn.
    • A contestant mis-solves the puzzle ABRAHAM LINCOLN as ABRAHAM BINCOLN with only the B and L's missing, to which Pat jokes that Bincoln delivered the Bettysburg Address.

1982Edit

January 1982:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • Claudia, the returning champion from Chuck's last episode, presumably returns on January 4.
  • There is a Hawaii Week sometime this month, as promoted by Pat during his week on Password Plus and by Variety blurbs on December 22, 1981 and January 8, 1982. This was most likely done identically to the 1981 [City] Weeks, by flying in contestants from Hawaii.
  • On an episode sometime this year, a contestant mis-solves the puzzle IT TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE as E.T. TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE with only the I missing.

February 1982:

  • Around this point, the light-up white trees are replaced by a single green-leaf tree to the left of the turntable.

March 1982:

  • The March 3 episode is submitted for the Daytime Emmy Awards in regard to a category applying to then-director Dick Carson. This may suggest that the episode, and any others submitted by Wheel, exist.

April 1982:

  • On April 26, the show moves back to 10:30 AM, replacing Blockbusters.

May 1982:

June 1982:

  • Sometime this month, contestant Debi Muchow competes for three shows, winning $15,000 in prizes including 300 square feet of floor tile. Debi is known to have copies of all three episodes in DVD format.
  • On June 18, 21, and 22, contestant Don Minyard wins a total of $11,671, including a trip to Jamaica. Don is known to have copies of all three episodes.
  • By June 18:
    • The puzzle board is slightly altered: the N's now have a top-left serif, while the board itself adds four trilons for a total of 52. As the new trilons are in the corners, they are blocked by the frame and hence cannot be used.
    • A timpani roll is added to the start of the Bonus Round. The show's logo is projected onto the floor unless the contestant plays for a car, in which case the car is parked in front of the board. (These aspects may have been introduced on January 4.)
    • The Bonus Round is now played from center stage.
  • On June 18:
    • At the start of the Bonus Round, an amount of $5,714 is displayed on the red sunburst backdrop. It is not certain whether this is Don's main-game total, as Pat states he has over $6,000 in prizes and (after the puzzle is solved) a total of $8,871.
    • Very strangely, the value of the bonus prize (a trip to Jamaica) is not given.
    • For the first known time, a contestant calls R, S, T, L, N, and E in the Bonus Round (although not in that order).
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used when going to commercial after the Bonus Round. The electric-guitar cue is used while Jack describes the Jamaica trip.
  • On June 21 (Don/Laine/Renee):
    • Laine puts a three-digit amount ending in 75 on account (the specific amount is uncertain due to the available footage having her head directly blocking the hundreds digit). She ends up losing the game by $375.
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used for the mid-show car/catalog plugs. "Big Wheels" is used for the next commercial outro.
  • As of June 21, the Final Spin directing is still the traditional style.

July 1982:

August 1982:

September 1982:

  • By September 2 (Nancy/Beverly/Karen):
    • The opening is slightly altered: Jack now only mentions three prizes, the money graphic becomes white and "flips" toward the camera, and the logo now slides off to the right as Pat is introduced.
    • "Big Wheels" returns to use for all commercial breaks and the mid-show car/catalog plug.
    • The directing for the Final Spin is slightly altered to have the camera start at an overhead shot of the Wheel and zoom in to the red player's arrow as the Wheel stops. An identical shot was used on some episodes between December 2003 and January 2004.
    • The credits are slightly changed to show the Wheel spinning below Pat, Susan, and the day's champion.
  • On September 2:
    • A four-line puzzle is used for the first known time: A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE IS A DANGEROUS THING, in Round 2.
    • The red arrow does not flash during the Final Spin.
  • On September 3 (Beverly/Dorian/Bill):
    • After Susan makes her entrance, Pat makes a remark about her outfit: "Zontar called, he said the invasion of Neptune is off." He makes a few more comments during the post-game chat, then admits he likes the outfit.
    • Just before the first spin, Pat holds up a cue card with a 4 drawn on the back and says "This is the number I drew, and that made me a loser." During the credits, Susan briefly holds up the card and appears to make a comment toward Pat.
    • During Round 1, Pat accidentally tells Bill that L has already been called. He corrects himself a few turns later, saying that the answer simply does not have an L in it.
    • Bill purchases 11 prizes after Round 2; with $1,103 remaining and nothing left to spend it on, he puts it on a gift certificate. The resulting prize copy runs for two minutes and ten seconds.
    • Round 3 begins as a Speed-Up for a Giorgio gift certificate; Pat jokingly blames Reggie Jackson for this, as REGGIE JACKSON was the first puzzle and the segment ran for over nine minutes.
    • Bill sweeps the game and wins a bedroom set in the Bonus Round. The cue used for the bedroom set, "Hip Check", is somewhat more commonly known as the theme of fellow NBC game show Blank Check, which debuted the same day as Wheel but ran just 26 weeks.
    • Bill calls O in the Bonus Round, the first known instance of a player calling a vowel other than E under the five-and-a-vowel rules.
    • Susan forgets to turn the T in the bonus puzzle GILBERT AND SULLIVAN, and is reminded from offstage.
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used when going to commercial after the Bonus Round.
  • By September 3, the beginning of the sponsor list is slightly altered to remove the upper-case letters from "or", "to", "the", and "for". A period is also added to the end.
  • By September 3, Climax begins providing Susan's wardrobe; considering the strange outfits she wears on the 2nd and 3rd plus Pat's comments on the latter, this association was probably short-lived.
  • In September or early October, the green-leaf tree is replaced by one which has brown leaves.
  • On an episode from after the brown-leaf trees are introduced (Deanna/Chuck/Nancy):
    • The category displays are white, although Susan is wearing blue.
    • Round 3 begins as a Speed-Up for a Giorgio gift certificate.
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn; his second attempt lands on $2,000.
    • The "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used when going to commercial after the Bonus Round.
  • On the episode immediately following the above (Darlene/Chuck/Diana):
    • During the contestant interviews, Pat notes Chuck's one-day total of $16,849, and says "it's been a long time since we've given away that much in one day".
    • The category displays are white, although Susan is wearing red.
    • During the shopping portion of Round 1, a popping sound can be heard when Pat is speaking.
    • Likely connected to the above, during the throw to commercial after Round 1, Pat has to use Chuck's microphone, as his own has stopped working. It is replaced by the start of Round 2.
    • During the Speed-Up, the buzzer fails to sound when Diana's guessing time expires.
  • On the episode immediately following the above (Dottie/Chuck/[unknown]), during the opening interviews, Pat mentions that Chuck's first-day total of $16,849 is the highest one-day total the show has ever had to this point. His two-day total was at least $21,499.
  • As of Darlene/Chuck/Diana, the directing for the Final Spin is still the same as it was on September 2.
October 1982:
SusanFinale102282

Goodbye, Susan...

  • As of October 22, the money graphic and logo are still white.
  • October 22 is Susan's last episode, as she wishes to pursue charity work. On this day:
    • To allocate time for Susan's farewell, all of the puzzles are two or three words long.
    • Contestant Kevin wins $2,600, followed by $900 the next Monday. His fiancée appears on the show around the same time, winning $4,400 in one round but not winning the game.
    • Susan's final bonus puzzle is PINCH OF SALT (Thing), played for a trip to the Bahamas. It is not solved.
    • During the final segment, Susan is presented with a bouquet of flowers by Nancy Jones and most of the crew says goodbye to her. The puzzle board shows GOOD-BYE SUSAN on the first three lines.
  • Summer Bartholomew is the guest co-host for at least the week of October 25.
  • As of October 27, Wheel draws a 21 share on the Nielsen ratings system. The show following it at this point, Texas, is unable to keep that audience.
  • In late October, and definitely by December 13, the light-up white trees return.

November 1982:

  • Vicki McCarty and Vanna White (and possibly Summer as well) take turns as guest co-host between November 1 and December 10.
  • November 14 may be Vanna's first taping as guest hostess, based on her comments during certain nighttime shows (namely "three weeks later, I was taping my first [permanent] show").
  • November 18 is Episode #2,000.
  • Wheel does not air on November 25 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
December 1982:
1vanna

...Hello, Vanna.

  • December 13 is Philadelphia Week, which is the same as previous [City] Weeks minus the returning champion from December 10. The opening shows Pat waving in front of a large fountain.
  • By December 13 (#2016; Robin/Louis/Linda):
    • The money graphic and Wheel logo begin to be displayed in different colors.
    • The commercial cues are changed up once again: "Big Wheels" is used after Round 1, during the mid-show car plug, and after the Bonus Round; the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is used during Round 2, after Round 2, and after Round 3.
    • The Final Spin directing returns to normal, although the red arrow is again not flashing.
  • December 13 is Vanna's first permanent show, taped December 5. On this day:
    • The Wheel's light layers flash counterclockwise.
    • The category displays are purple, matching Vanna's outfit.
    • Vanna's first official puzzle is GENERAL HOSPITAL, and the first letter she turns is the T.
    • The Round 2 puzzle ONE LITTLE TWO LITTLE THREE LITTLE INDIANS likely sets a record for the most known instances of a letter in a puzzle, with eight T's.
    • The camera mistakenly holds on a still shot of a curio cabinet after Round 2 while Jack describes it. Later, while he describes the final prize bought in that round, the prize cue runs to its end and begins again.
    • Amazingly, neither Bankrupt nor Lose A Turn is hit and no wrong letters are called; the Bonus Round is lost, however. This is believed to be the closest the show has ever come to a "perfect game".
    • Footage from Pat's trip to Philadelphia is shown just before the credits, and this is where Pat signs off.
    • During the credits, Jack plugs the show's upcoming time slot change on January 3.
  • December 13 is the second of only three daytime episodes to be aired by GSN; the network reran it in 2007 as part of a special marathon following Merv's death. Per the network's standard at the time, any mid-show plugs were cut out and the credit crunch began right after Pat signed off.
  • On at least December 13 and 29, there is a large pot of flowers behind each player.
  • December 27 is Teen Week, with the Friday Finals format. Despite this, the opening for the week (see below) shows 14 contestants; two were likely standby players.
    • For this week, the set is decorated for Christmas (including a large tree behind Pat) despite beginning two days after it. Also for this week, various Christmas-related songs are used as prize cues.
    • By December 27, the normal opening for Teen Week is introduced: three contestants model prizes, followed by all of the week's players sitting or standing in front of the puzzle board (reading TEEN WEEK on the middle two lines), after which Jack introduces Pat.
  • On December 29 (Chris/Evangelina/Jonathan):
    • Very strangely, the money graphic (and Jack's associated spiel) is $26,000, well below the norm at this point.
    • The contestants stand on boxes, a fact which Pat points out after Round 1. (This may have been the case on other episodes this week, but this is uncertain.)
    • During Round 2, Vanna accidentally turns the O in the puzzle EASIER SAID THAN DONE after Evangelina calls D, but very quickly turns it back while she is still blocking the camera's view.
    • For the first known time, a four-line puzzle is used in the Speed-Up round: THE NINA THE PINTA AND THE SANTA MARIA.
    • There are also two rare instances of contestants losing their turns in the Speed-Up with only vowels remaining; with only the I's and A's unrevealed in the above puzzle, Jonathan calls O and Chris calls I but does not solve. Evangelina then calls the A's and solves.
    • Jonathan fails to claim $12,700 in Round 3.
    • During the credits, Jack plugs the show's upcoming time slot change on January 3.
  • By December 29:
    • "Big Wheels" is again used for all commercial breaks (except after Round 2 on this episode, as it fades to black before any music can begin).
    • The red arrow again flashes during the Final Spin.
    • Pacino begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.

1983Edit

January 1983:
Daytime2044 Slate
  • On January 3, the show moves back to 11:00 AM.
  • The January 20 show is Episode #2,044, taped January 9.
  • As of January 20, the turntable still looks the same as it did on December 21, 1981.

February 1983:

  • Around this point (definitely after January 20), the on-set trees become green again. This time, however, there are two such trees.
  • On an episode sometime between the return of the green-leaf trees and August 5, Pat reads a letter during the final segment from a viewer who gave birth while watching Wheel, solving the puzzle DOBERMAN PINSCHER very shortly before the child was born (11:11, putting that episode no earlier than January 3). Clips from this segment appear during the intro on April 19, 2013.

March 1983:

  • March 28 is Teen Week, with the Friday Finals format. The winner of the week plays the Bonus Round for a $5,302 vacation for four to Disneyland.

April 1983:

  • On April 1 (Trevor/Juanita/Michelle):
    • During Round 1, both the ding and the applause machine abruptly cut off after the I's are purchased.
    • No music is played during the commercial outro after Round 2, as it fades to black too quickly.
    • Amazingly (due to the presence of the Bonus Round), five rounds are played. Like the Armed Forces episode in 1981, $1,000 is the top value for Rounds 3-4 and $2,000 for Round 5.
    • Trevor mis-solves the Round 3 puzzle JUICE NEWTON as JOYCE NEWTON with only vowels remaining, although the beeps fail to sound. Just before Juanita then solves the puzzle for $50, a stagehand can be heard telling Pat and the contestants that only vowels remain.
    • After the Bonus Round (which is not won), Pat gives the player a hamburger "garnished" with two $100 bills. She is then awarded five hours of a chauffeured stretch limo, which drives out from behind the host's area and stops in front of Pat; the driver gets out and opens the back door, revealing Vanna, after which all of the Teen Week contestants come onstage.
  • By April 1, the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue returns for at least one commercial break (in this case, after Round 5) as well as after the Bonus Round.
  • By April 1, New Leaf begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.

May 1983:

  • On May 6 (Julie/Shirley/Barry):
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • Neither Bankrupt nor Lose A Turn is hit.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up.
    • Interestingly, none of the puzzles have an S in them.
  • By May 6:
    • The turntable is altered to add flower-esque emblems to the curved top-left and top-right portions of all three sides.
    • A bumper is added at about the middle of each episode, showing the turntable rotating into place for the next round with a Wheel of Fortune logo slightly above the center of the screen. Said logo is in a shape and font different from any "official" logo (including the one in use at this point), and is displayed in various colors sometimes (but not always) matching the money graphic and opening logos.
    • The commercial outro cue pattern is changed once again: "Big Wheels" is played after Rounds 1 and 4; the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is played after Rounds 2 and 3 plus after the Bonus Round.
    • Gucci begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.
  • On an episode sometime this month, possibly a Tuesday and definitely before May 23:
    • The Wheel's spikes are re-welded with a new method that makes the spins much quieter than they were previously (referred to by Pat the next day as "the 10,000-spin checkup").
    • A champion retires undefeated.
  • On an episode sometime this month (Jackie/Penny/Paul), known to be the day after the above (and according to one recollection, "ten days" after the May 6 show):
    • During the open, Pat honks a car's horn right after Jack introduces him.
    • Pat does the opening spin with both feet off the floor. Following the overhead Wheel shot, the camera returns to the position it had just before.
    • Before Round 2, the puzzle chime accidentally sounds while Pat talks about the aforementioned Wheel update. It later sounds again in its proper place.
    • After the Round 2 puzzle STEFANIE POWERS is solved, the O does not light up at first. Vanna merely stands in front of it, apparently waiting for it to light up, then looks to her right and turns the trilon anyway. The O does not light up until after the puzzle is fully revealed.
    • During Round 3, Paul calls for either A or H (already in the puzzle) and stops himself halfway, then says S. Pat briefly consults the judges, after which Paul is credited with the S, which is not in the puzzle.
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn.
    • After Round 3, Penny's score display goes blank; the dollar sign on Paul's display is still present.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 3, Person in Round 2, and People in the Bonus Round.
    • The commercial outro cue pattern is as follows: "Big Wheels" is played after Round 1, during Round 3, and during the mid-show catalog plug; the "Temptation Eyes"-based cue is played after Rounds 2 and 3 plus after the Bonus Round.
  • By the above episode, Climax begins providing Vanna's wardrobe; unlike the period where the company provided Susan's wardrobe, it is now credited as "Climax of California".
  • As of the above episode, full credit rolls still use all lower-case letters for headers.
  • The Vacation Bonanza Contest (the first known home viewer sweepstakes) is held from about May 16 until sometime afterward. A print ad promoting said contest explains that home viewers "play Wheel of Fortune from [their] own home" for "an exotic dream vacation", with Hawaii specifically mentioned.

June 1983:

  • The June 7 show is Episode #2,142, taped May 21.

July 1983:

August 1983:

  • On August 8, Alan Thicke's music package is replaced with a new one composed by Griffin and Mort Lindsey, including a new theme tune called "Changing Keys". The last three notes of "Changing Keys" are also the cue for solving a puzzle.
    • Shopping rounds use a music cue called "Nightwalk" as the contestant buys prizes, and a variety of cues for the prize descriptions (including "Frisco Disco", the closing theme of the 1978-79 Jeopardy! revival).
    • "Changing Keys" is also used for all commercial breaks, ending a three-year period where Thicke's three commercial cues ("Big Wheels"; "Temptation Eyes"-based; and electric-guitar) were generally inconsistent in their use.
    • For its first year of use, "Changing Keys" is cued up at the 0:56 mark during the intro. The bridge also plays when Vanna walks out, although the nighttime show replaces it with "I'm a Wheel Watcher" on October 5, 1987. The instrumentation is also more "chirpy" for the first few months.
  • Very likely at the same time "Changing Keys" is introduced, the intro is changed to start with an overhead shot of the spinning Wheel, with the logo shrinking into its center accompanied by a pre-recorded "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" chant by an audience. It is somewhat similar to the overhead shot used from 1974-76.
  • Also presumably at the same time, the beginning of the sponsor list becomes yellow.
  • As of August 10, Wheel draws a 7.2 on the Nielsen ratings system with a 30 share.

September 1983:

  • The nighttime version officially debuts on September 5.
  • Although the nighttime show begins to display the totals of Bonus Round winners on-screen around this point, the daytime show does not adopt this practice at this time.
  • In late September, the money graphic and subsequent logo begin using white outlines; previously, they were black.
  • In late September or early October, the on-set trees become brown again.
  • As of September 23, Wheel draws a 5.8 on the Nielsen ratings system with a 29 share.

October 1983:

  • On October 31 (Tina/Janet/Tim):
    • During Round 1, Pat forgets to ask Tim if he wants to use his Free Spin.
    • After Round 1, the transition to the turntable is that from the opening, and briefly "sticks" halfway.
    • Jack's prize description after Round 3 ends abruptly following the last item, with the "s" in "dollars" being cut off.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Round 2 and the Bonus Round, Thing in Rounds 3 and 4.
    • The bonus puzzle WIN LOSE OR DRAW is the first known instance of a bonus puzzle using all four lines of the puzzle board, although the answer would have easily fit on two.
    • Following the Bonus Round, Pat and Vanna plug the Home Puzzle Contest. An unaired outtake from this segment appears at the end of the ceremonial 4,000th nighttime show in 2003.
  • By October 31:
    • The on-set trees begin using their light-up white appearance again.
    • The beginning of the sponsor list becomes white again.
    • Jon Wesley begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.
  • As of October 31, the mid-show bumper logo still looks the same as it was on May 6, and is still shown slightly above the center of the screen.

November 1983:

  • November 1-4 are the Home Puzzle Contest, where portions of a puzzle are revealed each day. The winners receive a microwave oven with accessories, a set of kitchen appliances, or a "video package" including a television and a videotape recorder.
  • November 7 is likely the first Couples Week, with husband/wife teams ranging from engaged to married for 40 years. This week uses the Friday Finals format, with the winning couple on Friday playing the Bonus Round for a 1984 "American luxury car". The opening shot of the puzzle board has COUPLES WEEK on the middle two lines.
  • On November 9 (Bill & Kathy/Don & Susan/Frank & Debbie):
    • The money graphic is the same shade of green as the money graphics used from at least 1976-81.
    • The opening shot of the puzzle board shows just eight couples, suggesting it was redone for each episode as couples were eliminated.
    • During Round 1, Bill & Kathy's score display goes out twice: once during the round, and again after the puzzle is solved. The display does not return by the commercial break. (They are the only couple to play Round 1.)
    • Bankrupt is hit five times in Round 2.
    • Pat is shown in the chroma-key circle after Round 3.
    • All four puzzles are Phrase, resulting in the only known instance of only one category being used in a game.
    • Bill & Kathy fail to solve the bonus puzzle TOP SECRET with the O, P, and C missing, after which Bill remarks "Oh, that was so easy!"
  • By November 9, the mid-show bumper logo is enlarged and moved to the top of the screen.
  • By November 9, Giorgio of Beverly Hills begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.
  • Wheel does not air on November 24 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • On November 28, the Merv Griffin Productions logo is replaced by a full-color drawing of a griffin against a black background.

December 1983:

1984Edit

January 1984:

  • Wheel does not air on January 2 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • On an episode sometime this month (Lynn/Doug/Cathy):
    • The Wheel spins very slowly during the opening.
    • Before Round 2, the applause machine sounds at its loudest setting while Pat mentions the presence of two apostrophes in the puzzle.
    • During Round 2, two players in a row call repeated letters; against precedent, the buzzer sounds on both.
    • During the Speed-Up round, Doug forgets to say the last syllable of NEW DELHI INDIA. The camera cuts to a close-up of him as he says the correct answer.
  • By the above episode, the puzzle board's chase light sequence is occasionally reversed: the left side now goes clockwise and the right counterclockwise. As far as is known, episodes used either the original sequence or the reversed one; never both.
  • As of the above episode, the set still looks the same as it did on December 21, 1981.
  • Drew Pinsky is a contestant sometime this year (before the sunburst backdrops change), although he does not solve any puzzles. Brief clips were shown on a September 2011 episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show when Pinsky (since risen to fame as "Dr. Drew") appeared as a guest, although the episode itself does not appear to circulate.

February 1984:

  • Early this month, the on-set trees are replaced by walls with foliage on them. The walls change according to the time of year (using snowflakes and lights in Winter), while the trees continue to appear occasionally.
  • Sometime this month, and definitely by the 27th, the Griffin logo is altered: the text is now much smaller and uses the Peignot font, while the griffin no longer blinks. The nighttime series retains the old animated logo from November through the end of Season 1 in June, adopting the new, static logo at the start of Season 2 in September.
  • February 27 is probably the first Battle of the Sexes week. The Monday-Thursday games each feature three women or three men playing, with the top winner of each gender playing on Friday for a shot at $5,000 in the Bonus Round.
    • The opening for Battle of the Sexes shows the week's contestants playing a tug-of-war in front of the puzzle board, which reads BATTLE OF THE SEXES on the middle two lines. There are six men and seven women, indicating that one of the ladies was a standby.
  • On February 29 (Ron/Ray/Rick):
    • The Wheel spins very slowly during the opening and credits.
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • Before Round 2, Pat brings up a question from Ray, who thought Pat was in the film "Raiders from Outer Space" (actually an episode of the 1960s anthology series The Time Tunnel). Pat remarks that he does not recall such a role, and it was probably another game show host. Pat and Vanna discuss this a bit further after the Bonus Round.
    • The Round 2 puzzle is SARAH PURCELL, co-host of the 1977-78 game show The Better Sex. While the use of her name as a puzzle during this particular week is likely a coincidence, it is still interesting to note.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 4, Thing in Round 3 and the Bonus Round.
    • Pat and Vanna can be heard talking during the credits.
  • As of February 29:
    • The beginning of the sponsor list still looks the same as it did on October 31.
    • The full credit roll still ends with Merv's creator credit, followed by the Griffin logo.
  • By February 29:
    • Jon Wesley begins providing Vanna's wardrobe again.
    • Full credit rolls now use upper-case letters for the first letter of each word in the headers.

March 1984:

  • By about this point, the ticket/contestant plug is slightly redone: it now uses a slightly different gold font, the sole lower-case letter (an O) becomes upper-case, the zip code is moved up to the third line, and the fourth line is now used for a phone number ("(213) 520-5555"). Whether it still appears over the Wheel is unknown, as the only known source (a nighttime episode) has a car win and hence the plug and sponsor list are displayed over that instead.
    • Likely at the same time, the ticket and contestant plugs become separate entities. At this point, at least the ticket plug still uses the same address the combined plugs did in October 1978.
  • As of March 21, Wheel draws an 8.1 on the Nielsen ratings system with a 31 share, a 6-share increase since the beginning of 1983.

April 1984:

  • Around this point, the static small-text Griffin logo begins to be used permanently.
  • On a Thursday episode between April 12 and May 24 (Staa/Nickie/Bill):
    • During his interview, Bill accidentally calls Pat "Jack". After Round 1, Pat refers to Jack as "Pat".
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • It takes six turns to reveal any letters in the Round 3 puzzle CARDBOARD BOX.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 2, Thing in Rounds 3 and 4 plus the Bonus Round.
    • Pat signs off immediately after the Bonus Round.
    • No overhead Wheel shot is used during the credits.
  • By the above episode:
    • The daytime show is still not showing the totals of Bonus Round winners on-screen.
    • The beginning of the sponsor list returns to having the first letter of each word capitalized.
    • Climax begins providing Vanna's wardrobe again.
  • As of the above episode, the mid-show bumper logo still looks and acts the same as it did on November 9, 1983.

May 1984:

June 1984:

July 1984:

  • Sometime in this month or August, there is a week with U.S. Olympic athletes playing for charity.

August 1984:

September 1984:

  • By September 10, the Griffin logo is altered to replace "Productions" with "Enterprises". Subsequently, Jack's closing spiel is now "Wheel of Fortune is produced by Merv Griffin Enterprises."
  • Sometime this month, "Changing Keys" is re-orchestrated slightly. A glissando is added to the beginning, and the instrumentation is less "chirpy". The theme now begins at the first bar during the intro, instead of the 0:56 mark. The original version continues to be played during the mid-show prize plugs through the end of June 1989.
  • Celia/Joseph/Gloria airs on a Monday sometime between the introduction of the 1984 "Changing Keys" and that of the second sunburst backdrops. On this episode:
    • Pat mentions that Celia purchased a car the previous Thursday, then won a second in the Bonus Round the next day.
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • In a rarity, only one prize is bought after each of the first two rounds.
    • Two sets of repeated categories are used: Round 1 is People, Round 3 is Person, and Round 4 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • An upcoming Teen Week is plugged.
  • By the above episode, the mid-show bumper logo returns to its style from October 31, 1983.
  • By the above episode, Pacino begins providing Vanna's wardrobe again.
  • By September 17:
    • The squared-off edges of the contestant backdrops become pointed; the outer edge is now dark brown, while the area immediately surrounding the player's color is changed to light brown.
    • The $150 next to $1,000 in Round 2 is decreased to $100.
  • On September 17 (Janinka/Seta/Peter):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • The category strip is white in the Bonus Round, but blue for the rest of the show.
    • Rounds 1, 2, and 4 are Phrase.
    • No vowels are bought in Rounds 2 or 4
    • Mark Corwin, then the associate director, fills in as director.
    • The Bonus Round (BLUE JEANS) is inexplicably categorized as Thing instead of Things.
  • On September 18 (Carol/Peter/Nikki):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • The category displays are white, although Vanna is wearing red.
    • Rounds 2, 4, and the Bonus Round are Phrase.
    • The mid-show bumper logo and shot are not used.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up.
    • After Nikki solves the Round 4 puzzle SHIP AHOY, Pat mistakenly says she has $1,000, when her correct total for the round should be $750 (and is shown on her scoreboard as $750). He is corrected from offstage moments later when doing the final recap.
    • During the recap, Peter's total winnings are not shown on the backdrop behind him.
    • In the Bonus Round, when the category display appears, there is a J already typed in on the letter choice row; it is erased when the winning player makes her first letter call.
    • The Bonus Round puzzle BROKENHEARTED is an extremely rare instance of a one-word Phrase.
    • The contestant plug is now in blue (using the same address and phone number as in March 1984), and is done over the Wheel.
  • By about this point, there are rotating providers for Vanna's wardrobe: New Leaf on September 17, and Jon Wesley on September 18.

October 1984:

November 1984:

  • By this point, at Merv's insistence, contestants generally stop using "as in" when calling letters (e.g., "P as in Pat.") unless necessary for clarification.
  • Wheel does not air on November 22 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • A Battle of the Sexes week is held sometime between about November 26 and December 10, played the same way as the week in February.
    • The opening is slightly altered to have BATTLE OF THE SEXES on the first three lines of the puzzle board. There are seven men and seven women, indicating that one of each was a standby.
  • On the Thursday show of the above week (Jeanne/Stephanie/Terri):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • The category displays are purple, matching Vanna's outfit.
    • Stephanie puts $15 on account following Round 1, but loses it to Bankrupt in Round 2.
    • The commercial outro of Round 1 is the 1983 "Changing Keys", which is also used for the mid-show Service Merchandise plug. The former begins it at the 0:56 mark, while the latter starts it from the beginning.
    • The players are shown turning their backs as Pat throws to commercial during Round 2.
    • Vanna turns the second R in the Round 3 puzzle FAST-FOOD RESTAURANT too far, causing the sheet to partly slide out of the trilon.
    • Later in Round 3, Jeanne spins just as the Final Spin chimes sound; she is allowed to complete her turn, although the camera remains on the Wheel shot as she calls her letter. When it changes to the board (right after Vanna turns the first F), the shot is not centered and does not show the category. The camera then shows Jeanne and her score as Pat begins the Final Spin, which quickly changes to the normal shot of him doing so.
    • The bonus puzzle HEAVEN ON EARTH is the first known appearance of Quotation in the Bonus Round.
    • No overhead Wheel shot is used during the credits.
    • During the credits, Jack notes that "Due to a technical difficulty, a spin in the third round was recreated and the program edited." This refers to the aforementioned spin, given the odd directing work during that portion of the show.
  • As of the above episode, the mid-show bumper logo still looks and acts the same as it did in mid-September.
  • By the above episode, and definitely by December 6, the Winter decorations are added to the walls.

December 1984:

  • On December 6 (Wayne/Linda/Mary):
    • Round 3 is the first known appearance of Places.
    • Mark Corwin fills in as director.
  • By December 6, "Videotaped at NBC STUDIOS Burbank, California" is added to the full credit roll between Merv's creator credit and the Enterprises logo.
  • On December 19 (Dolly/Robert/Connie):
    • The Round 1 puzzle SILENT NIGHT HOLY NIGHT (Quotation) uses all four rows of the puzzle board, even though it could have easily fit on two.
    • No vowels are bought in Round 1.
    • For the only known time, a commercial break is done between the Round 3 shopping portion and Jack's prize descriptions. After returning from break, Jack does the mid-show Service Merchandise plug before throwing to Pat, who talks for a bit before throwing back to him for the prize plugs.
    • The mid-show bumper logo and shot are not used.
    • Connie sweeps the game and wins a Mazda in the Bonus Round; the make of the car is never mentioned in the opening or in Jack's prize copy.
    • The sponsor list is not done over the spinning Wheel.
  • By December 19, the daytime show begins displaying the totals of Bonus Round winners on-screen, more than a year after the nighttime show adopted the practice.

1985Edit

January 1985:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 or 21: the former due to the Tournament of Roses parade, the latter due to coverage on the re-inauguration of Ronald Reagan.
  • Sometime this month, likely after January 21, three graphical changes are made:
    • The logo used at the beginning of the show becomes a chyron with white borders and letters which are closer together than the previous logo. The transparent portions of the Wheel graphic are filled in, while the formerly-filled spaces become white.
    • The logo shown after the money graphic is updated to an animated one with colored sections rotating in the center (colors which, at this point, vary). The letters and dots flash in dark and light shades of yellow.
    • The monospaced category displays become chyrons in a medium form of Helvetica, often in burnt orange. The Bonus Round totals, eligibility disclaimer, wardrobe plugs, and credits also begin using this same variation of Helvetica (itself wider than the version in use since at least 1976).
    • Presumably at the same time, and definitely by March 30, 1987, the ticket and contestant plugs also begin using Helvetica.
  • Later in January, the category chyrons get a shadow effect. Slightly later, the regular animated logo (with red, blue, green, and yellow sections) debuts.
  • At this point, the credits are still white.

February 1985:

  • By February 8 (Warren/Sol/Linda):
    • The category chyrons and Bonus Round totals are upgraded to a bolder form of Helvetica with no shadow and a white outline around the bottom of each character. They again display in various colors, often matching Vanna's outfit (with the exception of neutral colors such as black, white, brown, and gray).
    • The Winter decorations are again removed from the walls. This is uncertain, however, as there are several nighttime episodes with the shadowed category chyrons but no Winter items and a couple with the Winter items and second chyrons.
    • The graphics for the eligibility disclaimer, wardrobe plugs, and full credit roll become blue; previously, they were white.
    • The mid-show bumper begins spelling out the show's title one letter at a time horizontally.
  • On February 8:
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • Rounds 1, 2 and 4 are Phrase.
    • No overhead Wheel shot is used during the credits.
  • February 11 is Couples Week.
    Wheel10thanniversary
  • Sometime this month, most likely the week of February 18, the show celebrates its 10th Anniversary with a week-long home-viewer contest.

March 1985:

  • By March 29 (Linda/Mary Ann/Larry), the category chyrons are altered again to have the white outline around the entirety of each character, a style which remains for the rest of the run.
  • On March 29:
    • Before Round 1, Pat ends the opening spin by saying "once you buy a cat, it's yours to keep", in reference to Larry mentioning his pet cats during his interview.
    • It takes seven turns to reveal any letters in the Round 4 puzzle DO ME A FAVOR.
    • Later in Round 4, after spinning the Wheel, Pat asks Linda to let the Wheel stop, then "give it a full spin", presumably due to the Wheel slipping out of her hands.
    • Mary Ann retires with $20,045.
  • Sometime between the introduction of the third Helvetica chyrons and that of the third sunburst backdrops, a then-unknown Jean-Paul Manoux is a contestant (as "J.P.") during Teen Week and wins $9,020: $2,650 in the front game and a $6,370 trip to Tahiti in the Bonus Round.
  • On an episode sometime between the introduction of the third Helvetica chyrons and the Wheel's color scheme overhaul in September 1986, a then-relatively unknown Douglas Puffert is a contestant. He wins at least $5,800, and it is known that his winnings include a car (although whether this was part of the $5,800, won in the Bonus Round, or purchased on the next episode is unknown).

April 1985:

  • April 1 is Teen Week, known to have been promoted on at least March 28.
  • On April 1, Pat makes an April Fool's joke by claiming that he and Vanna are getting married.
  • On April 12 (Debbie/Teri/Chuck):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 3, Thing in Round 2 and the Bonus Round.
    • During the final segment, Pat and Vanna make reference to the April Fool's joke they played two weeks earlier, saying they were "getting a lot of presents in the mail" and reiterating that their statement was in fact an April Fool's joke.
  • On April 15 (Geri/Wayne/Debbie):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • During Round 3, nine turns are lost, five of which are consecutive.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up, with no shopping. The letter ding is used when the apostrophe in the puzzle is revealed, and the audience applauds for the first correct letter.
    • Mark Corwin fills in as director.
  • On April 24 (Mary/Mirtha/Chuck):
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn; his second attempt lands on $2,000.
    • Chuck sweeps the game and wins a trip to Lake Tahoe in the Bonus Round.
  • On April 25 (Chuck/Norma/Shira), Pat's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.

May 1985:

  • As of May 2, the Bankrupt slide whistle is still heard if Pat hits it on the Final Spin.

June 1985:

  • At this point, the beginning of the sponsor list still looks the same as it did in Spring 1984.
  • The June 5 show is Rebecca/Kerry/Edna.
  • On June 18 or 25 (Karen/Robert/Rachel):
    • During Round 3, eight turns are lost, six of which are consecutive.
    • Inexplicably, Round 3 goes to Speed-Up with only two consonants remaining.
  • On June 19 or 26 (Pamela/Tracie/Robert):
    • Pamela gets a Free Spin in Round 1, which she uses in Round 2 after buying a repeated E. She hands it in at the same time as Pat is being signaled to throw to commercial.
    • Pamela sweeps the game and wins a Pontiac Sunbird station wagon in the Bonus Round.
    • After the Bonus Round, as Pamela doesn't have anyone there with her, Pat joins her in the car, leading Vanna to sign off by herself.
  • By the above episode, the ticket/contestant plug is overhauled: at the top is now "SEND POSTCARDS TO", with "TO" on its own line. The address is changed to "P.O. BOX 4356 HOLLYWOOD, CA 90078" (although the phone number is unchanged).
    • This plug is now done between the sponsor list and the wardrobe plugs. On at least this episode, it is done over the puzzle board and car.
  • On both of the above episodes, the Enterprises logo is in a different font than usual.

July 1985:

August 1985:

  • Alex Trebek fills in for Pat sometime this month, most likely for one episode.

September 1985:

  • By September 9, the Enterprises logo is altered slightly: the font color is now pacific blue, rather than the silver used previously.
  • On September 20, a champion retires undefeated.
  • On September 23 (James/Karla/Yvonne):
    • Pat forgets to announce the top dollar value for Round 2.
    • In Round 2, the contestants are shown turning their backs during the mid-round commercial outro.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up.
    • Pat signs off after the Bonus Round.
    • The Enterprises logo uses the same font seen in the aforementioned June episodes.

October 1985:

November 1985:

  • Wheel does not air on November 28 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1985:

  • By December 5, the beginning of the sponsor list returns to solely using upper-case letters.
  • Sometime this month (after the 5th), the Winter decorations likely return to the walls.
  • On December 25, Jack appears onstage at the end of the show with Pat and Vanna to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

1986Edit

January 1986:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • Sometime this month, on an episode known not to be a Friday, a champion retires undefeated.
  • On an episode from sometime this month (Nick/Rebecca/Corky), known to be the day after the above:
    • Nick mentions his wife is expecting a baby "at the end of February".
    • In Round 2, the contestants are shown turning their backs during the mid-round outro.
  • By the above episode, the Enterprises card is again using the Peignot font.
  • On January 28, after airing on the East Coast, Wheel is pre-empted in all other time zones due to coverage of the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

February 1986:

  • On February 3 or 10, the Winter decorations are again removed from the walls (assuming they were added in the first place).
  • February 10 is Couples Week, with the Friday Finals format. The opening is the same as it was in November 1983.
  • On February 14 (Randy & Melissa/Matt & Lori/Morton & Patti):
    • During the final segment, Vanna gives Pat a Valentine's Day heart. In response, Pat gives her "a couple of bucks" to buy herself a gift.
    • During the fee plugs, someone (most likely Pat) turns most of the trilons in the bonus puzzle NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS to their green-glitter sides. The remaining trilons spell out NEW GLAND, with three spaces in-between.
    • The sponsor list is not done over the spinning Wheel.

March 1986:

  • Wheel likely becomes closed-captioned for the hearing-impaired on March 6, the same day the nighttime version does so, but this is uncertain.

April 1986:

May 1986:

  • On a Monday episode from sometime around May or early June (Naomi/Dennis/Faye), known to have been taped around April 21-23 and aired right after a College Week:
    • After the second turn of Round 1, Pat notes that the puzzle (PAJAMA PARTY) is a Title but could also be considered an Event. This is only the second known instance of the host stating that a puzzle falls under more than one category, although only "Title" is displayed on the chyron.
    • For the first known time, a Wheel home game is offered as a prize: specifically, the Second Edition as part of a $300 collection of Pressman titles.
    • Following Round 4, after Dennis' totals are shown, Naomi's display briefly shows $6 before being erased.
    • The mid-show bumper logo and shot are not used.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 2 and 3, Thing in Round 4, and Things in the Bonus Round.
    • The sponsor list is not done over the spinning Wheel.

June 1986:

  • June 16 is Teen Week. Susan Stafford returns for this week, filling in for Vanna (who is absent due to a then-recent plane crash which killed her fiancée, John Gibson).
  • By June 20, the regular Friday Finals opening for Teen Week is introduced: after the opening chant, Jack says "It's Teen Week on Wheel of Fortune!" The day's contestants then introduce themselves from left to right, followed by all three simultaneously introducing the host and hostess.
  • On June 20 (Peter/Aurora/Wendy):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • The game is played for savings bonds, with no shopping.
    • Both Rounds 2 and 3 have $1,000 as the top value on the Wheel, with Round 4 introducing the $1,500 and $2,000 spaces.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Round 1 and the Bonus Round, Things in Round 3, and Thing in Round 4.
    • No credit is given for Susan's wardrobe. This may have been the case on the other shows this week, but this is uncertain.
  • As of June 20 (or Naomi/Dennis/Faye, whichever is later), $175 is still present on the Wheel and $1,500 is still on the right-hand side of Bankrupt.
  • On June 23, Vanna tells Pat at the end of the show that she went on a vacation, after which she gives him several gifts that she found for him.

July 1986:

  • Wheel does not air on July 4 due to the celebration of the Statue of Liberty's renovation.
  • On July 16 (Ray/Randy/Gary):
    • Three males play.
    • The bonus puzzle EQUATOR is inexplicably categorized as Thing instead of Place.
  • On another episode sometime this month (known to have the bonus puzzle ELECTRICIAN), the puzzle board uses its original chase light sequence.

August 1986:

  • On an episode during the Summer:
    • The yellow contestant acquires five Free Spins and uses all five in Round 2.
    • Round 3 starts as a Speed-Up and, thanks to a $2,000 Final Spin, the blue contestant ends up winning despite having not touched the Wheel at all.

September 1986:

  • Around this point, Pat generally stops saying "For [amount], [solve/identify/what's] this [category]" when a contestant asks to solve a puzzle.
    JackpotDaytime
  • By September 8, the Wheel layouts are overhauled as follows:
    • In Round 1, the blue $175 is raised to $500, the orange $200 becomes peach, the yellow $100 becomes pink, the tan $500 becomes yellow, the red $400 becomes purple, the yellow $200 becomes red, the brown Free Spin wedge becomes peach, the tan $100 becomes pink, the yellow $200 becomes peach, the red $150 becomes blue, and the brown $450 is changed to red. The blue $400 is changed to a purple $200, the orange $250 becomes a peach $400, the brown $200 is changed to a pink $250, the yellow $600 darkens to peach, the tan $250 is changed to purple and the blue $350 becomes orange.
    • In Round 2, $1,000 changes from blue to yellow. Going clockwise from there, the red $200 becomes light blue, the second Bankrupt moves one wedge counterclockwise onto the brown $250, with a red $300 taking its former spot, the red $300 next to it becomes a peach $200, the blue $400 is upped to a purple $550, the orange $200 is raised to $400, the yellow $900 is lowered to a pink $200, while the red $200 becomes a yellow $900, the brown $300 is dropped to a blue $250, the blue $550 becomes a red $300, the yellow $400 becomes a peach $200, the blue $250 becomes purple, the yellow $400 is changed to blue, the red $500 becomes pink, Lose a Turn and $150 swap positions, the latter which changes from orange to purple, the tan $800 becomes red, the brown $700 is lightened to peach, the red $300 becomes pink and the tan $100 becomes red.
    • In Round 3, the $1,500-Bankrupt-$700-$500 stretch is reversed. Also, $1,500 changes from orange to yellow, the red $350 becomes pink, the blue $700 becomes purple, the brown $500 becomes blue, the yellow $300 becomes pink, the yellow-orange $2,000 is changed to yellow, and the brown $350 becomes purple.
  • These changes also result in the Wheel wedges being recolored, most noticeably replacing most of the tan and gold with pink and purple, and the Wheel's center changes from dark green to lime green (the same shade as the Prize wedges on the nighttime show at this point).
  • September 15 is the debut of the Jackpot wedge, which begins at $1,000 and increases by $1,000 each day until claimed. It is treated as a Prize wedge, and hence cannot be spent on vowels or in shopping rounds. This may be the first time cash is offered on the daytime version as a regular element since the hour-long shows ended in 1976.
    • If the Jackpot is not won at $1,000, Jack's opening spiel is altered to begin with "Look at this studio, filled with glamorous prizes! Fabulous and exciting merchandise, including a(n) $x,000 cash jackpot!" The opening money graphic for the Jackpot simply zooms in, then flashes.
    • The wedge is not used during "special" weeks (Teen, College, Battle of the Sexes, etc.), most likely due to the Friday Finals.
    • From this point until its retirement, at least some dates that mention a Jackpot win without an amount are guesses.
October 1986:
Daytime3000
  • October 3 is Episode #3,000, taped around September 19. The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows: Volume 2 includes a photo of Pat and Vanna at the puzzle board, which reads WHEEL OF FORTUNE'S 3000TH SHOW (with the numbers in a font different from the letters).
  • As of mid-October, the contestant backdrops are still look the same as they did around October 1984. Sometime between then and November 13, they are altered to streamline the "jagged" edges; the resulting appearance closely resembles a sunflower.
  • As of mid-October, the walls introduced in early 1984 are still present. Sometime between then and November 13, they are replaced by a set of lights and a more colorful background.
  • On a Monday episode from the Fall (Dean/Kathy/Karen), after the third sunburst backdrops are introduced and the walls are dropped:
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • Only one prize is bought after Round 1: a $350 collection of Pressman board games, including Deluxe Wheel of Fortune.
    • The Jackpot graphic is a collection of gold coins and a gold bracelet; the money graphic, which resembles that from the opening, is red and flashes.
    • The bonus prize, a $4,200 cabinet, is presented next to the puzzle board.
  • By the above episode, Gucci begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.
  • An episode sometime in late October or early November (after the aforementioned set changes) has a Jackpot win; the contestant, Bernice, ends the game with $16,050 and wins a car in the Bonus Round.
  • On the above episode and at least one other in the same taping session, the puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.

November 1986:

  • November 10 has a Jackpot win.
  • On November 13 (Mike/Jill/Dawn):
    • The puzzle board uses its original chase light sequence.
    • In Round 1, Mike accidentally calls a vowel instead of a consonant after a spin.
    • The players are shown turning their backs as Pat throws to commercial during Round 2.
    • The Jackpot graphic is a gold "Horn of Plenty" with various coins around it; the money graphic is gold and stationary.
    • The game ends in a tie. As a result, no Bonus Round is played and all three contestants continue on the 14th. The returning champion, who is not one of the tied contestants, is told that the next day's game will be a "continuation of [her] second appearance". In place of the Bonus Round, Pat and Vanna converse, and Pat shows the device from which contestants draw numbers to determine who starts the game.
    • Climax provides Vanna's wardrobe.
  • As of November 13, the Enterprises logo still looks the same as it did on September 9, 1985.
  • November 17 is College Week.
    JackClarkBackstage10-1986

    A master at work.

  • At around this point, Jack still does his announcing work in an offstage utility room.
  • Wheel does not air on November 27 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1986:

  • On December 11, contestant Stanton Keeney retires with $49,633, solving all but one main-game puzzle and winning all three Bonus Rounds. The book Wheel of Fortune by David R. Sams and Robert L. Shook refers to this as the daytime record as of August 1, 1987, noting that Judy Bongarzone's $64,461 total was achieved partly through playing in NBC's All Star Dream Machine Championship (and hence, not under the normal five/three-day limit).
  • As of December 11, the Used Letter Board is still a chalkboard.
  • December 22 is Teen Week, taped November 22. During this week:
    • The opening, using the same structure as previous Teen Weeks, shows 13 players in front of the puzzle board (Guru does not play at all this week). The participants are seen "modeling" the prizes at the top of the show.
    • As it is also the week of Christmas, a large bow is present on the puzzle board's frame and each of the pillars flanking the turntable. The contestant area also has a small decoration behind each player.
    • The animated Wheel logo is not used.
    • Pat Richards provides Vanna's wardrobe on the 22nd, and Climax on the 23rd and 24th. It would appear that by this point, there are several rotating sponsors for her outfits.
    • The puzzle board uses its original chase light sequence on at least the 22nd, 24th, and 25th.
  • On December 22 (Chrissy/Tom/Danny):
    • Pat mentions debuting a new video by him and Vanna "later in the week".
    • "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" is played during the Round 2 prize descriptions.
    • The Bonus Round timer continues to play for about two seconds after the time's-up buzzer.
    • The top winner has only $1,900, and all three players combined have only $2,700.
    • The Wheel can be heard loudly spinning as Pat and Vanna sign off.
  • By December 22, the Enterprises logo adds "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" between the Enterprises logo and copyright date. The December 22 shot begins with a closeup of this text before zooming out, suggesting that this is an early appearance of said credit.
  • The December 23 show (Jim/Tracey/Carol) is mostly pre-empted on the East Coast by an NBC News report (the Voyager successfully returning to its base after a nine-day nonstop flight around the world), rejoining just before Jack begins the Round 3 prize descriptions. West Coast viewers see the entire episode. Among the known events:
    • During the Bonus Round, Tracey's call of M is misheard as N, and the N is briefly put on the chyron.
    • Afterward, one of Tracey's relatives accidentally gets herself caught on the player's microphone.
    • The opening logo-on-Wheel shot accidentally appears very briefly before the camera switches to the Enterprises logo.
  • On December 24 (Kathy/Leslie/Victor):
    • The opening Wheel shot suddenly jumps backward when the transition appears.
    • During Round 2, Pat forgets to ask Leslie if she wants to use her Free Spin. He does this again in Round 3, but she turns it in herself.
    • The players are shown turning their backs at the break during Round 3.
  • On December 25 (Valerie/Ian/Paula):
    • While doing the opening spin, Pat accidentally says $450 is top dollar for Round 1 instead of $750.
    • Ian tries to spin during the Speed-Up, but is stopped before he can do so.
    • None of the puzzles have an A in them.
    • After Pat and Vanna's sign-off, the puzzle board is shown with the words MERRY CHRISTMAS on the middle two lines. "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is played from here through the end of the credits.
  • On at least December 25, and probably for the entire week, the mid-show bumper is a shot of the TEEN WEEK board and players; the logo animation is much faster, and has green lettering.
  • The December 26 show appears to have been pre-empted by most of the network in favor of either sports programming or, on at least one affiliate (WXIA in Atlanta, Georgia), a soap opera. The soap is likely the series finale of Search for Tomorrow, which had been airing at 12:30 since it moved from CBS in March 1982.
  • On December 26, according to Pat's comments, the game is played for savings bonds, with no shopping.

1987Edit

January 1987:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • At some point this year, according to one recollection, two games in a row end in a tie, resulting in a contestant playing for five days.
  • On an episode sometime this month (Mitzi/Tony/Cheryl), the puzzle board uses its original chase light sequence.

February 1987:

  • For the entirety of this month, Wheel and NBC's other game shows (Blockbusters, $ale of the Century, Scrabble, Super Password, and Wordplay) participate in the "Car-azy February" Sweepstakes; on Wheel, certain episodes have a special puzzle for home viewers to solve by sending their guesses via mail. The answers and car winners are revealed on-air around the beginning of March.
  • February 9 is Battle of the Sexes Week. The open is the same as in 1984, with the genders' positions swapped and the puzzle board reading BATTLE OF THE SEXES on the top three lines; there are eight women and seven men.
  • The February 13 show is Mike/Renee. On this episode:
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • Vanna wears a shirt and pants.
    • Neither Bankrupt nor Lose A Turn is hit.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up, with no shopping.
    • During the Speed-Up, Mike tries to call a letter before Renee's five seconds have run out.
    • The bonus round is played for $5,000 cash, displayed before the bonus round as five $1,000 bills inside a package of Valentine's Day chocolates.
    • During the final segment, Pat and Vanna wish the viewers a happy Valentine's Day before signing off.
  • On at least February 13, and probably for the entire week, the mid-show bumper is a shot of the BATTLE OF THE SEXES board and players; the logo is shown at the top-left corner of the screen, in pink lettering.

March 1987:

  • March 13 has a Jackpot win.
  • On March 16, contestant Clay sweeps the game and wins the Bonus Round.
  • As of March 17 (Phyllis/Alan/Clay), the money graphic still acts the same as it did on September 2, 1982.
  • On March 17:
    • Due to it being St. Patrick's Day, Pat wears a frog hat from shortly after Vanna's entrance through the end of the show. A close-up of Pat wearing the hat appears in the ceremonial 3,000th and 4,000th nighttime shows.
    • After the ceramic Dalmatian is bought, Jack refers to it during his prize descriptions as the show's mascot.
    • There is a $2,000 Jackpot win.
  • March 19 also has a Jackpot win.
  • On March 27, a champion retires undefeated.
  • By March 30 (Randy/Robin/Jim):
    • The money graphic begins zooming in much like the Jackpot graphic, and appears at the top of the screen.
    • Jack begins announcing from a "booth" in front of the audience. This setup remains through at least mid-October 1988, and likely through June 30, 1989.
    • The ticket and contestant plugs are overhauled: at the top is now "CONTESTANTS" or "TICKETS" in underlined italics, (although the address and phone number are unchanged). While the contestant plug is still done between the fee plugs and sponsor list, the ticket plug is now done after the sponsor list, although neither is done over the Wheel.
  • On March 30:
    • It takes six turns to reveal any letters in the Round 1 puzzle HO CHI MINH. The puzzle is then mispronounced by Jim with only the O unrevealed, after which Randy solves for the $200 house minimum. 15 turns are lost in this round including a Bankrupt, an incorrect E, and the aforementioned missolve. Altogether, the round runs for 4 minutes and 33 seconds.
    • After Randy buys the ceramic Dalmatian following Round 1, Pat immediately puts the remaining $46 on a gift certificate without offering the option to put it on account.
    • Randy sweeps the game, but loses a Mazda in the Bonus Round. Her total of $1,000 is one of the lowest winning scores in the show's history (according to one recollection, another player won with just $575), and very likely a record low for total winnings among an episode's players. The total amount of prizes purchased (three, one in each round) is also very likely a record low.
    • Pat and Vanna talk to Jack during the final segment. Before introducing him, Pat notes that Jack had been in an offstage room for years and the new setup had debuted "only recently".

April 1987:

  • On April 1 (Steven/Gail/Missy):
    • The blanks of the Round 3 puzzle are not shown until after Missy begins her first spin.
    • The footage of the trailer the winning contestant plays for is either prerecorded or followed by an edit, as it is followed by a fade to the normal "dimming lights" puzzle board shot with Vanna next to the trilons despite the fact she had just been modeling the trailer.
    • During the final segment, Pat and Vanna talk about the April Fool's joke they played two years earlier.
    • The Wheel can be heard starting its automation as Pat and Vanna sign off.
  • April 9 has a Jackpot win.
  • April 13 is Teen Week, with the Friday Finals format. During this week:
    • The opening, using the same structure as previous Teen Weeks, shows 15 players in front of the puzzle board. The participants are seen "modeling" the prizes at the top of the show.
    • The animated Wheel logo is not used.
  • On April 14 (Guru/Chad/Lisa):
    • Vanna wears a shirt and pants.
    • Guru had been an alternate in the December 1986 Teen Week.
    • Chad gets a Free Spin in Round 1, which he uses later that round after buying a repeated E.
    • During Round 2, the contestants are shown turning their backs before Pat throws to the mid-round commercial.
    • The audience cheers loudly when Chad buys the ceramic Dalmatian after Round 2, which Jack refers to as "our favorite mascot" during his prize descriptions.
    • Inexplicably, Round 3 goes to Speed-Up with only two consonants remaining.
    • After the game, Pat and Vanna make jokes about the 15 pound chocolate bunny offered to all that week's contestants, with Vanna biting its ear and Pat biting its tail and saying "we'll see you tomorrow for more food!" before signing off.
  • On at least April 14, and probably for the entire week, the mid-show bumper is a shot of the TEEN WEEK board and players; the logo animation is much faster, and has red lettering.
  • On April 27 (Pete/Carolyn/Elaine):
    • Pete sweeps the game and wins a Pontiac in the Bonus Round.
    • The puzzle board reads BEAST during the credits. This was done, presumably by Pat, by rearranging the letters in the bonus puzzle BEST MAN.
  • As of April 27:
    • Commercial breaks may still occur during a round (Round 2 in this case).
    • Full credit rolls still use entirely blue text.

May 1987:

  • May 7 has a Jackpot win.

June 1987:

  • On June 1, a champion retires undefeated.
  • On June 2 (David/Jean/Karen):
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
      Jean Perle on Wheel of Fortune - 1987 (1).mp4 snapshot 11.45 -2017.06.01 05.49.19-
    • No vowels are bought in Round 4.
    • All of the puzzles are very short, with Round 2 being the longest at only 19 letters.
    • After Pat mentions the top value for Round 1, he says "Try not to hit Bankrupt, because, we'll all be steamed."
    • Before the Round 2 outro, Pat mentions that the Jackpot (then at $18,000) is at the highest value it's been at since being introduced.
    • The Jackpot graphic is a "Pot of Gold" at the end of a rainbow, with a stuffed leprechaun next to the pot. The money graphic is red with a white outline and is stationary.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up.
    • After the Speed-Up puzzle is solved, the contestant backdrops show a reflection of the puzzle board being wheeled away.
    • Karen calls A in the Bonus Round, a rare instance of a player calling a vowel other than E under the five-and-a-vowel rules.
  • June 5 and 8 are the first known instance of two consecutive Jackpot wins, the former being $21,000.
  • On June 9 (Carmen/Kelley/Mark), Pat erroneously states that $650 is the top dollar value for Round 1 before quickly correcting himself.
  • On June 12 (MaryKay/Ted/Kim):
    • The puzzle board uses its original chase light sequence.
    • All of the puzzles are very short, with Round 2 being the longest at only 16 letters.
    • After the ceramic Dalmatian is bought following Round 1, Jack refers to it during his prize descriptions as "our favorite mascot".
    • Before Round 3, Pat indirectly references the $21,000 Jackpot win from June 5, saying the Jackpot was "building back up there after our big winner last week".
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up.
  • On June 15 (Rod/MaryKay/Angie):
    • After Pat mentions the top value for Round 1, he says "I'm supposed to read the rules here, but I'd appreciate it if you just do it in the privacy of your own home because I don't feel like it."
    • Pat does not recap the scores after the final round.
    • The sponsor list is not done over the spinning Wheel.
  • On June 17, Pat and Vanna chat with Jack at the end of the show.
  • At this point, the category chyrons are still not present during Speed-Up rounds.
  • At this point, the Enterprises logo still looks the same as it did on December 22, 1986.

July 1987:

  • Most of this month's episodes are pre-empted due to coverage of the Iran-Contra affairs.

August 1987:

September 1987:

October 1987:

  • By about mid-October, the category chyrons begin to appear in Speed-Up rounds.
  • By about mid-October, the Enterprises logo is altered: the background becomes yellow, and "A unit of The Coca-Cola Company" is changed to "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION".
  • As of about mid-October, the "only vowels remain" beeps still sound eight times.
  • October 28 probably has a Jackpot win.

November 1987:

  • By about mid-November, the "only vowels remain" beeps are shortened from eight to four.
  • Wheel does not air on November 26 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • November 27 and 30 are the second known instance of two consecutive Jackpot wins, this time by the same contestant.
  • On November 30 (Dave/Diana/Susan):
    • Rounds 1 and 2 are played entirely by the person who began them.
    • Pat states that the November 27 Jackpot was $22,000, which is the highest known total ever achieved by it.
  • By November 30, full credit rolls now have headers in blue and names in yellow.

December 1987:

  • Sometime this month, contestant Robert Forst loses $10,800 by adding "the" in front of ATLANTA FALCONS. He ends up with no money, leaving with $4,800 from his previous game.
  • December 21 is Teen Week, with the Friday Finals format. During this week:
    • As in 1986, the opening shows all 15 participants standing or sitting at the puzzle board.
    • The set is again decorated for Christmas.
    • The mid-show bumper logo is a shot of the week's players waving in front of the puzzle board. The logo is already present on the 21st and appears one letter at a time on the 25th.
    • On at least the 21st and 25th, "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" plays from Pat and Vanna's sign-off through the end of the credits.
  • On December 21 (Joey/Steve/Samantha):
    • Strangely, one commercial break comes between Round 3 and the end-of-game tally. After Jack does the Service Merchandise catalog plug, Pat recaps the scores and announces the winner before throwing to commercial again.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 3, Thing in Round 2, and Things in the Bonus Round.
    • For the last known time, the chroma-key Wheel shot is used during Pat and Vanna's sign-off.
  • On December 25 (Lance/Renee/Joey):
    • The main game is played for savings bonds, with no shopping.
    • Five rounds are played, with a $750/$750/$1,000/$2,000/$2,000 structure.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 5, People in Round 4, and Person in the Bonus Round.
    • The sponsor list is not done over the Wheel.
    • Just before Pat's wardrobe plug appears, Jack says "This is Jack Clark. All of us at Wheel of Fortune wish you all the very merriest of Christmases." before doing the Enterprises spiel. As a result, this is the first known instance of a daytime announcer signing off by name.
  • As of December 25, the beginning of the sponsor list still says the same thing it did on December 25, 1981.
  • Beginning December 28, the fee plugs are eliminated. Departing contestants now receive a substantial prize, announced before the beginning of Round 3 or 4, per NBC's wishes.

1988Edit

January 1988:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • On an episode from the week of January 18 (Kathy/Howard/Della):
    • The Jackpot is not plugged during the intro, despite being at $4,000.
      WOF (1988) Kathy Howard Della.mp4 snapshot 11.14 -2017.08.29 01.30.05-
    • Howard wears a button on his shirt, beneath his nametag, that resembles the Wheel and reads "WHEEL OF FORTUNE" around the top and "I'M A WHEEL WATCHER" at the bottom.
    • The puzzle board uses its reversed chase light sequence.
    • The Round 1 puzzle (CHILI WITH BEANS) is inexplicably categorized as Things instead of Thing.
    • The Jackpot graphic is an image of a full cookie jar, with a kid greedily staring into it. The money graphic is red with a white outline and is stationary. It matches the one seen in the opening.
    • After Kathy chooses her last prize in the Round 3 shopping segment, Pat immediately puts the remaining $106 on a gift certificate without offering the option to put it on account.
    • Pat models a Mazda RX7 during the mid-show car plug. During this, an unknown person's hands can be seen clapping in the left of the shot.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up. The letter ding is used when the apostrophe in the puzzle is revealed, and the audience applauds for the first correct letter.
    • Eight consecutive wrong letters are called in the Speed-Up.
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are Title.
    • Kathy calls A in the Bonus Round, a rare instance of a player calling a vowel other than E under the five-and-a-vowel rules.
    • Pat and Vanna do not sign off; rather, the final segment begins with the sponsor list.
    • The sponsor list is not done over the spinning Wheel.
    • The Enterprises logo makes no mention of Coca-Cola Televison or Columbia Pictures Entertainment, instead saying "Merv Griffin Enterprises © Califon Productions, Inc. 1988 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED" on three lines.
  • As of the above episode:
    • The mid-show bumper is still in use.
    • The beginning of the sponsor list still says the same thing it did on December 25, 1981.


February 1988:

  • On February 8, the Enterprises logo replaces "A unit of Coca-Cola TELEVISION" with "A unit of Columbia Pictures Entertainment, Inc."
  • On February 24, The Pat Sajak Show is announced by CBS. Likely at the same time, Pat announces his eventual departure from the daytime show.

March 1988:

April 1988:

May 1988:

  • May 6 is likely Jack's last episode, with Charlie filling in afterward.
  • Around this point, contestant Debra Stuker plays for two or three shows, winning $36,829 (including a Jeep, sailboat, small motorboat, artwork, sportswear, TV, VCR, jukebox, and sporting equipment). Much later, at the end of August 1989, the Associated Press reports that while some of her prizes arrived respectably (including the Jeep, traded in for a van), the $4,200 jukebox and $10,000 boat were both delivered in very poor condition. At the time of the article, the show took back the boat without offering a replacement and offered $2,500 cash (not taken) instead of the jukebox.

June 1988:

  • At this point, there is still no ® on the show's logo.
  • On June 14 (#3,421, taped May 14), Betty White makes a cameo.

July 1988:

  • On July 21, Jack dies.
  • As of July 27, according to USA Today, there is still no permanent announcer.

August 1988:

September 1988:

  • By September 5:
    • A "registered trademark" (®) symbol is added to the show's logo, just below the N.
    • The beginning of the sponsor list changes to "THE FOLLOWING HAVE FURNISHED PRIZES FOR PROMOTING THEIR PRODUCTS."
  • Same Name debuts around September 6.
  • September 8 and 9 are the third known instance of two consecutive Jackpot wins, the former being $7,000.
  • On September 9 (Tom/Kim/Cindy):
    • Charlie is still announcing the daytime version, even though M. G. Kelly has begun announcing the nighttime show at this point; this would suggest that the two versions' taping sessions were not synchronized. Kelly probably takes over as announcer on the daytime show by the end of this month, and definitely by October 24.
    • Rounds 2 and 4 are Occupation.
  • September 16 is believed to be the last appearance of the daytime Jackpot.

October 1988:

  • On October 3, the Bonus Round rules are changed to give RSTLNE automatically and ask the contestant for three more consonants and a vowel; also, the time limit is reduced to 10 seconds. The first daytime bonus puzzle under these rules is OREO COOKIES, which is not solved.
  • By mid-October, the Used Letter Board changes to a dry-erase board similar to those used in auditions since at least 1985. Other than being dry-erase, the new board retains the old formatting.
  • October 24 is Trick or Treat Week, held across all of NBC's daytime games. On Wheel, the turntable and spiral pillars are decorated for Halloween.
  • On October 26 (Jeannette/Lenna/Elizabeth):
    • Pat's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.
    • Rounds 1, 2, and the Bonus Round are Phrase.
  • By the above episode, the slide whistle no longer sounds if the Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.

November 1988:

  • Wheel does not air on November 24 due to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1988:

  • On December 7 (Shawn/Elin/Maddy):
    • Some pricetags use a much smaller, thinner font than usual.
    • The puzzle board uses its original chase light sequence for the last known time on the daytime show.
  • On December 30, Pat announces that he will be leaving the daytime show the following week.

1989Edit

January 1989:
Vannapatmerv

Goodbye, Pat...

  • Wheel does not air on January 2 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • On January 6:
    • Contestant Patti leaves with $48,507 despite not making it to the Bonus Round on her third appearance.
    • Several comments during the show mention "tomorrow", due to the episode originally being scheduled for January 5.
  • January 9 (#3,564) is Pat's last daytime show, taped around October 1988. He steps down from daytime to host his short-lived talk show, The Pat Sajak Show, which debuts that night. On this day:
    • Appropriately, the Round 1 puzzle is TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOURSELF.
    • Following the Bonus Round, Pat makes out with Vanna until Merv walks up and taps Pat's shoulder.
    • No name is ever given for Pat's replacement, as no host had been chosen at the time of the episode's recording, although Pat and Merv's comments suggest otherwise.
    • Several comments during the show mention "Friday" and "Monday", indicating an intended airdate of January 6. It appears that a recent NBC News special report (possibly the Pan-Am flight bombing in Lockerbie, Scotland on December 21) pre-empted Wheel at some point and pushed everything forward by a day.
  • January 9 is the third of only three daytime episodes to be aired by GSN; the network reran it in 2007 as part of a special marathon following Merv's death. Per the network's standard at the time, any mid-show plugs were cut out and the credit crunch was used after the sign-offs.
    Rolf

    ...Hello, Rolf.

  • January 10 is Rolf Benirschke's first show, taped December 14, 1988. Promos aired on January 4-9 advertising his debut, "starting Tuesday". On this day:
    • The money graphic returns to being in the center of the screen.
    • M.G.'s intro ends with "And now, here's your hostess: Vanna White!" Vanna walks out to the host's area, and introduces Rolf. The two converse during the first segment, which lasts just over two minutes, with the contestant interviews and Round 1 beginning in the second segment.
    • The post-game chat is not done near the Wheel.
  • On at least January 10-13, no credit is given for Rolf's wardrobe, although this is likely an error. In the case of the 10th, there is a blank spot between Vanna's credit and the beginning of the full credit roll.
  • On at least January 11-13, M.G.'s intro ends with "And now, here's your new host: Rolf Benirschke!"
  • Beginning on January 11, the consolation prize (only mentioned as being given to one contestant) is described after the last commercial break.
  • On January 12 (Kevin/Robin/Rhonda), Rolf accidentally declares Robin the day's winner instead of Rhonda, but the mistake is quickly corrected. The confusion likely happened because Rolf accidentally read Robin's two-day total as her score for just this episode.
  • As of January 13 (Kathy/Keren/Rhonda), the money graphic still appears in the center of the screen.
  • Wheel does not air on January 20 due to coverage on the inauguration of George H.W. Bush.
  • On a set of episodes believed to have aired during late January, a contestant wins $65,271, the largest of the daytime run. According to a comment left by the contestant on this wiki, a Bonus Round is discarded and replaced during one of these episodes due to Rolf accidentally accepting an incorrect answer.

February 1989:

  • According to one recollection, an episode sometime during Rolf's tenure has the first known instance of a contestant incorrectly solving a fully-revealed puzzle. The answer is SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, which more than one player mispronounces.
  • Twice during Rolf's tenure, the game ends in a tie. On the first instance, likely in late January or early February, Rolf admits on-camera that he does not know what to do.
  • February 17 is M.G.'s last episode; Charlie returns on the 20th.
  • By February 22 (Lois/Cami/Rochelle), the money graphic returns to being at the top of the screen.
  • On February 22:
    • Lois gets three Free Spins in Round 1.
    • Rolf's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn.
    • Lois sweeps the game and wins a Toyota Tercel in the Bonus Round.
  • As of February 22, Augustus still provides Rolf's wardrobe.
  • Before & After debuts around February 27.

March 1989:

  • On March 24, Rolf and Vanna wish everyone at home a Happy Easter.
  • On March 27, Rolf and Vanna talk to Charlie at the end of the show.

April 1989:

  • During a Teen Week around Spring, Rolf congratulates himself for hitting $2,000 on a Final Spin. The blue contestant, Jade, then points out that Rolf is looking at the blue arrow and has actually hit Bankrupt.

May 1989:

  • The May 9 show is Episode #3,649.
  • On May 22, due to declining ratings and an inability to come to a license fee agreement with Merv (and despite Wheel having a three-year studio-use contract signed in 1987), NBC announces the show's cancellation and replacement by reruns of The Golden Girls.
  • On May 23, CBS announces the return of Wheel "beginning sometime this Summer". At this point, the Sacramento Bee notes, "the Rolf Benirschke fan club needn't panic – he will not be out of work even one day".

June 1989:

  • Stephen Burrows, later a writer and director, is a contestant (as "Steve") on an episode taped June 10. On April 18, 1991, he releases the half-hour short The Soldier of Fortune about his "actual appearance and subsequent humiliation on [Wheel], where he is generally considered to be the worst contestant in the history of the show", which wins 29 film festivals.
    • While the short is known to contain clips of his episode, it is not known how the short is structured. Given the running time and the length of an episode minus commercials, it is possible that Soldier simply consists of his episode in full with the remaining time devoted to Burrows' comments and/or the aftermath.
    • According to the Internet Movie Database, Steve is the first player to buy all five vowels in succession and still not solve the puzzle.
  • June 30 (Julie/Jay/Marc) is Rolf's last episode, the last with the shopping format, the last taped in Studio 4 at NBC Studios in Burbank, and the last use of $2,000 as a cash value. On this day:
    • Fittingly, the Round 1 puzzle is TALK TO THE POWERS THAT BE.
    • Rolf's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt. His second attempt lands on $300.
    • Rolf and Vanna talk about Summer after the game, with Rolf mentioning that he will be going to the beach.
    • The credit roll is of the extended style (Music, Utility, Flyman, etc.) like those used on other NBC finales.
    • Charlie says his name while signing off, the second known instance of a daytime announcer doing so.
  • By June 30, the money graphic returns to the center of the screen.
  • By June 30, Rick Pallack begins providing the host's wardrobe.
July 1989:
Bobgoen

...Hello, Bob.

  • In early July (definitely before the 7th), TV Guide runs an ad promoting the show's move to CBS. No host is named, although a blurb of "New Host" confirms Rolf's dismissal.
  • On July 7, Bob Goen is announced as the new host.
  • July 17 is the CBS premiere, taped on the 14th, and Bob and Vanna appear on that day's CBS This Morning to promote the debut. Wheel moves back to 10:30 AM, replacing the Chuck Henry version of Now You See It, and nearly every element changes in some way:
  1. The show moves to CBS Television City's Studio 33 (now the Bob Barker Studio), the same studio in which The Price Is Right has taped since 1972.
  2. The original episode tally, in place since 1975, is discarded in favor of a three-digit counter prefaced by "#C".
  3. The shopping format is retired, replaced by a scaled-down version of the nighttime play-for-cash format. The shopping cue "Nightwalk" is sporadically used as a prize cue.
  4. The "wrong letter" buzzer, Bankrupt slide whistle, "only vowels remain" beeps, Final Spin bells, puzzle reveal chimes, and Bonus Round timer beeps are all changed; the "wrong letter" buzzer was previously used as a "time's up" buzzer on Bumper Stumpers. A new "time's up" buzzer consisting of two short buzzes is added to the Bonus Round, where previously the elongated "wrong letter" buzzer was used. For about the first week or so, the "only vowels remain" beeps sound more muted than they would later become. All of these sound effects carry over to nighttime, as does the use of the CBS applause machine.
  5. "Changing Keys" is rearranged to have the melody on saxophone and jazz guitar, backed by organ and percussion. This and all subsequent versions of "Changing Keys" end on a single note instead of the puzzle-solve cue, although that is also reorchestrated to match. The bridge of "Changing Keys" continues to play when Vanna is introduced.
  6. The turntable is heavily redone, with only a few prizes and other decorations now present on it. It likely rotates to show various prizes, but it is not known to have done so on-camera. Also, at least one spiral pillar is retained, placed to the left and back of the contestant area.
  7. The host's area and Bonus Round area each now have a backdrop of silver chevrons, while the host's area and the spaces between the players' score displays are changed to a solid brown design.
  8. The sunburst contestant backdrops are upgraded to chevrons that continue to show total champion winnings with the same limitations. As shopping is no longer part of the format, the "ON ACCOUNT" display is now obscured.
  9. The contestant nametags are now parallelogram-shaped, with a gray background, although the letters are still white.
    1stbob4

    Hundreds of dollars in cash!

    Wof01PrizeBy1250
  10. The Wheel offers less than half of what it did previously, and while the show has a four-round minimum the layouts are a variant of the three-round structure: $500 returns to being the top value for Round 1 and remains for Round 2, followed by $1,000 in Round 3 and $1,250 thereafter. For the first time since 1975, $50 and $75 appear on the Wheel.
  11. Prize wedges are reintroduced to daytime, with a new prize added each time a previous one is claimed (up to two new prizes per round). If two Prizes are put on the Wheel at once, their wedges are not shown in close-up. The distribution presents the possibility of having three prizes on the Wheel by Round 4.
  12. The Free Spin tokens become green, with "SPIN" in the center and "Free" on the top and bottom in yellow script. The new daytime Round 1 template has a yellow Free Spin wedge instead of a peach one.
  13. As a result of the reduced Wheel values, vowels now cost $200.
  14. The Bonus Round now offers subcompact cars, a cash prize of $5,000, and other prizes generally valued at less than $10,000; the $5,000 is displayed on a green disc suspended from the ceiling, which rotates counterclockwise, and its font (save for the dollar sign) is Clarendon-like and similar to its nighttime front-game counterpart. While nighttime changes Bonus Round prize selection to a random draw from the W-H-E-E-L envelopes on September 4, daytime allows contestants to pick their bonus prize until the end (although picking the cash is not as common).
    $5,000 Sign

    The $5,000 sign.

  15. If the $5,000 is played for, the sign lowers and Charlie announces one of several rotating lines related to it.
  16. The opening remains about the same as Rolf's last show, with a "CBS StereoSound Where Available" graphic added. Charlie's intro is now "Look at this studio, filled with lots of exciting prizes! Including a new $5,000 cash bonus, this sporty little compact car, and a wonderfully romantic Caribbean cruise, plus thousands of dollars in cash, all waiting to be won on today's show! Yes, from Television City in Hollywood, it's Wheel of Fortune! And now, here's your host: Bob Goen!"
  17. As Charlie says "plus thousands of dollars in cash", the money graphic appears at the bottom of the screen (albeit unannounced, unlike the previous daytime run and the nighttime run); during the week of July 17, it alternates between $41,000 (Monday, Tuesday, and Friday) and $42,000 (Wednesday and Thursday).
  18. In addition to the money graphic, all other colored chyrons, including the overhead shot logo, now have a thinner white shadow.
  19. As Charlie says "waiting to be won", a graphic of the Wheel forms, starting with several colored rings curling into place to form the frame of the Wheel, followed by the wedges falling down to form the Wheel itself (albeit extremely inaccurate, lacking Bankrupt and Lose A Turn while including values such as $850 {not used since 1979}, an off-model yellow $750, and the nonexistent {outside of rug and turntable layouts} $950). Once the Wheel graphic is fully formed, it tilts to form the "O" in "OF" and fades when doing so, with the rest of the show's name spelled out in gold letters. The logo fades away as Charlie introduces Bob.
  20. The overhead Wheel shot during the close is now zoomed in on the center; only the bottoms of the wedges are visible, including the "50" in $1,250 as well as any remaining Prize wedges.
  21. Per CBS game show tradition, the sponsor list becomes two separate ones: "The following suppliers of products have paid for their use & promotion." and "The following suppliers of products or services have furnished them free or at less than retail."
  22. Full credit rolls have headers in blue and names in pink. Additionally, the show's logo, as seen at the start of full credit rolls, is now pink.
  23. The credits end with "Recorded at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California", with the CBS Eye logo included in the graphic. Short credit rolls display it as a chyron, while full credit rolls have it scroll up.
  • On July 17 (Fay/Rick/Lou):
    • After Bob's entrance, he mentions that "It is great to be here at our new home at CBS. Although some things may change, some things always stay the same, thank goodness for that." He then introduces Vanna.
    • Inexplicably, the winner of Rolf's last episode does not return.
    • Person/Fictional Character debuts in Round 3.
    • Lou buys a repeated E in Round 3, but it is not acknowledged as such until Vanna accidentally walks to the trilon where the E has already been revealed.
    • Pat appears before Round 4 to wish Bob and the players good luck; at the same time, Bob quips about succeeding Pat on the nighttime show.
    • The first Wheel Prize appears in Round 2: a $916 trip to Lake Tahoe. It is not claimed, and is replaced by two prizes in Round 3. One of these is won and replaced in Round 4 by a fourth prize.
    • During the post-game chat, Vanna and Bob mention the switch to play-for-cash and hold up two of the new Free Spin discs.
    • As it no longer applies, "Gift certificates do not include sales tax." is removed from Charlie's closing disclaimer.
  • On July 17 or 18, The Pat Sajak Show features a segment about the daytime Wheel, with Pat walking downstairs to Studio 33 and surprising Bob, Vanna, and Charlie. Various elements suggest that Pat's appearance was during the break between the Bonus Round and closing chat. The segment also explains the puzzle board and Used Letter Board, and has the only known shot of the $5,000 sign's reverse.
  • On July 18:
    • Charlie's intro changes slightly: the prize descriptions are now "Including our all-new $5,000 cash bonus, a gorgeous handwoven oriental rug, and a fabulous sapphire and diamond ring, plus thousands of dollars in cash..."
      Two-Digit Values with Diamonds

      The two-digit values with added diamonds.

    • The two-digit values are given diamonds, and the tan $50 near Bankrupt is increased to a yellow $300. This yellow $300 wedge is the same off-model variant (with a larger dollar sign and smaller 3) used at this point to cover Free Spin in later nighttime rounds.
    • Same Name (Round 2) uses an ampersand for the first time, instead of spelling out AND. The answer is EVE & ELIZABETH ARDEN.
    • Two prizes are introduced in Round 4, as the Round 2 prize is lost to Bankrupt (however, Bob does not take away the wedge) and the Round 3 prize won. One of the Round 4 prizes is also won, and its wedge strangely remains on that player's arrow for the rest of the show.
    • As the show goes to break after Round 4, the camera cuts from the contestant area to a small zoom-in on the $5,000 sign.
    • Charlie's "the prices of the prizes" closing disclaimer is removed entirely. In its place on this episode, he states that "This program has been edited for broadcast."
  • On July 19:
    • Charlie's intro changes again: "lots of exciting prizes" is changed to "wonderful and exciting prizes", and the next few episodes have different prize descriptions.
      • July 19: "Including $5,000 in very spendable cash, this nifty little compact car, lovely pearl jewelry, plus thousands of dollars in cash..." (The "new" intro animation starts while the rings are forming.)
      • July 20: "Including a great $5,000 cash bonus, a glamorous cruise through the Caribbean, and for entertaining, a contemporary bar with accessories, plus thousands of dollars in cash..."
      • July 21: "Including a romantic seven-day Caribbean cruise, a beautiful Oriental rug, and a $9,000 sapphire and diamond ring, plus thousands of dollars in cash..."
    • The contestant nametag letters become black, likely because the white lettering was difficult to read.
    • The Rounds 1-2 Wheel layout undergoes several value changes: the off-model $300 is replaced by $50♦ and swaps positions with the $125 next to it, the pink $50♦ between Bankrupt and Free Spin increases to $175, the purple $50♦ nearby increases to $300, and the blue $75♦ between Free Spin and Lose A Turn increases to $200.
    • Round 1 has the first instance of a puzzle using zeroes instead of O's, an anomaly which appears on some puzzles and spreads to nighttime on September 7. The zeroes, likely recycled from the "3,000th show" promotional shot, are wider and rounder than the regular O's. As far as is known, puzzles only either used O's or zeroes, but never both.
    • After the Round 2 prize is claimed but not won, two new prizes are introduced in Round 3. One of those is won, and is replaced by another prize in Round 4.
    • During the post-game chat, Bob and Vanna talk about more differences from the nighttime show, including the reduction of vowel cost to $200. Bob quips that they "made it through the show without Sajak having to come in and bother us".
  • On July 20:
    • For the first time, there are three Prize wedges on the Wheel in Round 4. They are neither claimed nor won. One of them is the aforementioned bar in Charlie's intro, worth $2,976. It starts out on the red $200 next to $1,250 in Round 4 and moves to the pink $300 next to Bankrupt in Round 5.
    • In Round 4, the category chyron disappears a second into the first spin, but reappears after that spin is complete.
    • Every puzzle with an O uses zeroes.
    • Contestant Patrick retires, the first of the Goen era, with $19,230.
    • Before coming back from the final break, CBS airs a promo for the show.
    • The post-game chat is not done near the Wheel.
  • On July 21:
    • For the only known time on daytime, the chyrons are yellow. Nighttime does not appear to have used yellow until at least 1994, albeit with black outlines instead of the usual white.
    • The lights on the $5,000 sign are off during the entire show, except during the Bonus Round when the champion decides to play for the cash.
    • Round 2 is a Same Name of EGG & VANNA WHITE.
    • Round 3 has a zero for the O.
    • There are only two prizes available during Rounds 2 and 3 combined, and one of them is won in Round 3.
    • Round 4 begins as a Speed-Up, with the Art wedge still on the Wheel. Against normal practice for a Speed-Up, the chimes sound when the puzzle is revealed.
    • The winning contestant finishes with only $1,000.
  • The aforementioned CBS This Morning interview shows clips of a Monday episode, most likely July 24 or 31 given the timeframe. On this episode:
    • At least the end of the intro is still the same as it was on July 17.
    • During the final segment, Bob notes that the research staff brought him an encyclopedia and noted that "Martha Graham is right in here, pal." The phrasing suggests that MARTHA GRAHAM was a puzzle that day, possibly in the Bonus Round.
  • By the above episode, the purple $50♦ in Rounds 1-2 is increased to $300, leaving just one each of $50♦ and $75♦ on the Wheel.
  • The taping Pat appeared at on The Pat Sajak Show airs sometime between July 24 and August 11, but not the same week as the aforementioned CBS This Morning clips.
  • Sometime during Goen's tenure, there is believed to be a seven-round episode; interestingly, this is also believed to be the result of a tiebreaker being required after Round 6. If this did happen, then it is either the first or second known episode to go to seven rounds.
  • On another episode during Goen's tenure, according to one recollection, Vanna does the Final Spin for the only known time, doing so at Bob's request after he repeatedly lands on Bankrupt.

August 1989:

  • As of August 4, Wheel draws a 2.8 on the Nielsen ratings system with a 12 share, only slightly higher than the average of Now You See It.
  • By August 22 (Marleen/Mary Ellen/Lee):
    • The NBC opening shot and money graphic are dropped. The opening is changed to an angled shot of the contestant area with the $5,000 sign at left, with the players running onstage during the "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" chant. The theme is slightly updated with a new opening version which begins with a similar crescendo to "Give It One", and the version previously used there continues to be used during the credits. The camera pans from the Wheel to the board as the "new" logo, now the regular one, appears; cuts to the audience as the animation is reversed (including the Wheel reappearing and reversing its animation); then cuts again to center stage while Charlie introduces Bob.
    • Charlie's opening spiel is changed to "From Television City in Hollywood, one of America's most loved shows! The famous Wheel is spinning your way with lots of cash and an assortment of sumptuous prizes! And now, here's your host: Bob Goen!"
    • The $5,000 sign now rotates during the opening and credits, as well as when the cash is played for. Previously, the sign did not rotate during the credits.
  • On August 22:
    • No vowels are bought in Rounds 1 or 4.
    • Six rounds are played. Rounds 1, 2, 4, and 6 are Phrase, while Round 2 and the Bonus Round are Thing.
    • Interestingly, none of the puzzles have an S in them.
    • The Round 2 prize is claimed in Round 3, but not won; it is replaced by another prize in Round 4, which is claimed and won. The Round 3 prize is not claimed and is removed in Round 6, which begins with the Final Spin.
    • For the first known time in the Goen era, the Bonus Round is played for something other than the cash or a car: specifically, an East Coast tour.
    • The closing plugs begin immediately after the final commercial break.
  • On August 24 (Rose/Jim/Martha Ann):
    • After the Round 2 prize is claimed, two new prizes are introduced in Round 3 and one in Round 4, again resulting in three prizes on the Wheel for Round 4.
    • Round 3 is the first known appearance of Person/Title. The puzzle uses a zero for the O.
    • There is also a contestant plug before the fee plugs.
    • The theme music runs to the end, just after the Enterprises logo appears.
  • By August 24, Fred Hayman of Beverly Hills begins providing Vanna's wardrobe.
  • As of August 24, Rick Pallack still provides Bob's wardrobe.

September 1989:

  • On September 4 or 11, the puzzle board's chase lights begin to be used during the opening; previously, they were static.
  • On September 18 (Dave/Sandra/Ric):
    • The category chyrons are red, possibly a random choice due to Vanna's dress (a flowery print).
    • Several times during the show, Bob forgets to ask Ric if he wants to use his Free Spin.
    • There are two sets of repeated categories: Same Name in Rounds 1 and 5, Phrase in Rounds 2 and 4.
  • By September 18, the Rounds 1-2 minimum returns to $100: the pink $50♦ is increased to $250, the blue $75♦ is increased to $400, and the purple $300 near Bankrupt is dropped to $100.
  • As of September 18, the set still looks the same as it did on July 17.
  • By the end of this month, puzzles no longer use zeroes for O's.

October 1989:

  • Beginning on October 2, the dollar sign disappears from the contestant score displays if that player has at least $10,000, an apparent glitch which remains until the displays are redone around August 1990.
  • On October 16:
    • The Free Spin wedge becomes a single Free Spin token placed on various amounts, with the spot formerly holding the wedge becoming $400. This is the last change to the Rounds 1-2 layout, the only one to be altered since the CBS debut three months earlier, and the last Wheel layout alteration on the daytime show.
    • Person/Fictional Character is renamed Star & Role.
    • The winner's Bonus Round letter choices begin to be displayed in black, a color typically not used by the category chyrons.

November 1989:

  • Wheel does not air on November 23 due to the All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade.
  • Husband & Wife debuts around November 27.

December 1989

  • Around early or mid-December, large "spiked" balls are added to the Bonus Round chevron backdrops until about mid-January, a tradition that remains for the rest of the run.
  • On December 21, the show celebrates its 5,000th overall episode, with Bob and Vanna showing a pretaped clip from a party with them plus Merv, Pat, and Charlie among others. During these clips, Bob and Vanna namedrop Chuck, Susan, Summer, Pat, Alex, and Rolf as having contributed to this number.
  • December 25 is Teen Week, known to have been promoted on at least the 21st.
  • By December 25, cars begin to be displayed on the turntables from the nighttime show. If a champion wins a car and the post-game chat and credits take place there (instead of near the Wheel), the turntables are not active.
  • Family debuts around December 25.
  • The December 27 show is Episode #C115.

1990Edit

January 1990:

  • Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • Sometime this year, CBS airs a promo of Bob in the show's office, using his last name in several puns. The nighttime 1987 Round 1 template is used as a wiping graphic (similar to one of the nighttime Disney World intros) and in the background on a physical prop.
  • On January 4 (Mike/Marcia/Don):
    • During Round 1, eleven turns are lost, five of which are consecutive.
    • During the post-game chat, Bob shows a picture of a puppy which he had recently gotten.
  • January 4 is the last time Nancy Jones is listed first on full credit rolls. Beginning the following week, Merv's credit of Executive Producer is added to the list, above Nancy.
  • Mark/Jeff/Kristin, Jeff/Steve/Jim, and Abby/Jeff/James air on a Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday sometime between January 8-10 and about February 12-14.
  • On Mark/Jeff/Kristin, Rounds 1, 3, 4, and 5 are Phrase.
  • On Jeff/Steve/Jim:
    • Bob introduces Vanna as "the Goddess of Love", referencing the infamous 1988 NBC TV-movie of the same name where Vanna played the title role.
    • Bob's Final Spin lands on a Prize wedge; his second attempt lands on $200.
    • Two sets of repeated categories are used: Phrase in Rounds 1 and 3, Thing in Round 4 and the Bonus Round.
  • On Abby/Jeff/James, Jeff retires undefeated with $40,886, possibly the largest of the Goen era. Notably, he wins all three Bonus Rounds with the same set of letters (CDHA).
  • As of Abby/Jeff/James, vowels still cost $200.

February 1990:

  • From February 7-9, contestant Peter Lamberton competes for three shows, winning $22,818.
  • As of about February 22, Renee Hoss is still credited under that name during full credit rolls.

March 1990:

  • By March 5, the show holds a Soap Stars Week with cast members from The Young and the Restless (Jess Walton/Doug Davidson/Lauralee Bell), The Bold and the Beautiful (Daniel McVicar/Lauren Koslow/John McCook), Guiding Light (Kimberley Simms/James Goodwin/Jay Hammer), and As the World Turns (Michael Swan/Margaret Reed/Gregory Beecroft). Based on this and a print ad, it likely used the Friday Finals format with each soap getting its own episode.
    • An article from March 7 notes that Hammer donated his winnings to his alma mater: the University of the Pacific in Stockton, California.
    • While all twelve were on their respective shows before July 1989, it is known that Reed, Beecroft, and Goodwin leave their respective shows in 1990 (Beecroft around February, Goodwin on May 14, and Reed at an unknown point).
  • By about March 14, Renee Hoss begins to be credited as "Renee Hoss-Johnson" in the full credit roll.
  • Sometime during the second half of the month, Shannon Williams is promoted from Production Staff to Prize Coordinator, replacing Steve Davis.
  • Assuming that the daytime show offered fur coats after the move to CBS, they are dropped from the prize rotation late this month at the insistence of PETA.

April 1990:

May 1990:

June 1990:

July 1990:

  • July 2 is Armed Forces Week, where contestants are called from the audience to play (the first three by Bob, all subsequent names by Vanna) from a fishbowl sitting on the host's railing. During this week:
    • Several gameplay elements are slightly altered:
      • The players do not draw numbers to determine position, instead taking the spots from left to right in the order they were called. After each round, the two players who do not solve the puzzle are eliminated, and two new contestants are called to replace them; if one new player wins and the other does not get a turn, s/he is not eliminated and only one new contestant is called.
      • $500 is the top value in Round 1, $1,000 in Round 2, and $1,250 in Rounds 3+. In relation to this, the first Wheel Prize is added before Round 1, a practice that becomes the norm when Wheel returns to NBC in January.
      • Rounds 2+ begin with the "next" position from the one that won the previous round (i.e., if the yellow player wins Round 1 then the blue player begins Round 2, etc.).
      • The player with the most winnings (not necessarily the winner of the final round) plays the Bonus Round.
    • After the logo flies into place, an American flag graphic wipes by from left to right during Charlie's opening spiel, replacing the second half of the logo animation.
    • The set is decorated: an American flag is present behind the host's area, a large Armed Forces emblem is attached to the top-center of the puzzle board, and various Armed Forces-related symbols and flags are placed around the audience area.
  • By July 5, the cost of buying a vowel is reduced to $100.
  • On July 5:
    • The first Wheel Prize is a $500 necklace. This is very likely the least expensive Wheel Prize ever offered on the daytime show, and known to be one of the least expensive Wheel Prizes overall.
    • As the signoffs and credits take place near the car won by the day's champion, the car turntable is not active.
  • Around this point (known to not be July 5 or 23), a contestant solves NICK NOLTE STARRING IN Q&A with only one letter (most likely the N's) revealed. According to one recollection, this was done by Hal Warning on July 11.
  • On July 23 (Rochelle/Tammy/Hury):
    • Three females play.
    • The Round 1 puzzle HALLELUJAH is an extremely rare instance of both a one-word Phrase and a main-game puzzle with only three unique consonants. 10 wrong letters are called in this round, including the first five turns, and no vowels are bought.
    • Hury retires with $20,213.
    • During the final segment, Bob mentions that a staff member named Karen is leaving at the end of this week. The staffer in question is shown briefly, but the only Karen listed in the full credit roll is Karen Griffith, who did not leave the show and became co-producer in Season 14; this would suggest that she only left daytime, and then only for a brief period, as she is listed in the full credit roll of January 11, 1991.
    • For the first known time, Augustus provides Bob's wardrobe.
    • A crane shot of the $5,000 sign is used during the credits.
  • As of July 23, the contestant area still looks the same as it did on July 17, 1989.

August 1990:

September 1990:

  • By September 3, several changes are made:
    • The score displays are extended to allow for seven digits, with the dollar sign now "adjusting" to the scores instead of remaining at the far left. The new displays are also connected to each other, removing the solid brown space that was previously there.
    • The lights surrounding the Wheel become much brighter. The bottom layer of lights, which previously flashed counterclockwise, now flash clockwise as the Wheel is spinning (much like the other layers).
    • The Wheel is noticeably tighter and louder.
    • The chevron contestant backdrops become darker.
    • Following the last puzzle of the game, the cumulative total of an outgoing or returning champion is shown flashing in a similar manner to the post-Bonus Round totals.
  • On what is believed to be September 7 (Melissa/Benny/Kristin):
    • After Charlie reads the copy for the Round 3 Prize (a reclining chair modeled by Vanna), Bob responds with "Vanna not included."
    • Kristin solves the Round 3 puzzle ADD SUBTRACT MULTIPLY AND DIVIDE with only the D's, T's, and N showing.
    • Five rounds are played. Unusually, a Prize is added to the Wheel for Round 5.
    • Bob's Final Spin lands on Bankrupt.
    • Two sets of repeated categories are used: Phrase in Rounds 1, 3, and 5, Person in Round 2 and the Bonus Round.
    • During the final segment, Bob shows a picture of himself and Carol Smillie (then-hostess of the British version). Bob and Vanna's comments suggest this was done for the entire week.
  • As of September 11, the original rules for picking up Prize wedges and the Free Spin are still in use (picking them up automatically and calling a letter for the value underneath).

October 1990:

  • Clue debuts around this point, with the bonus worth $250.

November 1990:

  • A Chicago Tribune article from March 17, 1991 mentions a play-by-phone contest being held for 21 days this month. The article notes that "a record 4.7 million people played, as well as watched, Wheel of Fortune in a one-shot promotion".
  • Episode #4,000 likely airs around November 7.
  • For the last time, Wheel does not air on November 22 due to the All-American Thanksgiving Day Parade.

December 1990:

  • By December 25, the rules for picking up Prizes and the Free Spin are altered to require a correct letter call before picking up the wedge/token.
  • December 25 is Christmas-themed, with a decorated set: lights that flash during the open and close, miniature golden bows on the puzzle board, and a large golden bow on the $9,995 Geo Metro onstage that also has gift boxes on each side. Also, the chyrons are displayed in red and green for the holidays. On this episode:
    • Three males play.
    • After his entrance, Bob wishes the viewers a Merry Christmas and tells them that if they aren't spending the day with their own family, to let him, Charlie, Vanna, and the contestants be the "surrogate family" for the day.
    • After the Bonus Round, Vanna gives Bob a piece of crochet with his last name inscribed in capital letters.
    • After the CBS Television City chyron is shown, the Enterprises logo is revealed via a trilon effect just as Charlie's spiel begins.

1991Edit

January 1991:

  • For the last time, Wheel does not air on January 1 due to the Tournament of Roses parade.
  • January 11 (Brenna/Jim/Sonja) is the last CBS episode. On this day:
    • After Bob enters, he notices the audience doing the Wave. He laughs and mentions this, afterward quipping that "I feel like Pedro Guerrero all of a sudden."
    • Rounds 3 and 5 are Before & After.
    • In Round 5, Jim tries to buy a vowel after claiming a Prize wedge, but Bob stops him as he has no money. He loses the Prize to Bankrupt on the next turn.
    • Afterward, the Speed-Up bells sound just as Sonja begins to spin. She is allowed to complete her turn, after which the bells sound again and Bob does the Final Spin.
    • The bonus puzzle KING OF THE ROAD uses three lines of the puzzle board, a practice almost entirely abandoned after mid-1989.
    • Bob and Vanna only have time to sign off.
    • For the last time, the credits include "Recorded at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California".
    • After the credits finish scrolling, the picture zooms back to reveal a gray background, at which point it flips over to reveal the Merv Griffin Enterprises logo just as Charlie's spiel begins.
  • On January 14, the show moves back to NBC's daytime schedule, replacing Let's Make A Deal, but continues to tape at Television City. Unlike the move to CBS, the January 11 winner is held over. The return to NBC results in several changes:
  1. The CBS episode tally is discarded in favor of a new three-digit counter prefaced by "#DT".
  2. Charlie's intro is changed to "From Hollywood, the famous Wheel is spinning, spinning, spinning, and the players will be winning, winning, winning! Because there's lots of cash and some fabulous prizes just waiting to be won on Wheel of Fortune! With our host, Bob Goen, and our hostess, Vanna White!" Bob gives a short greeting after Charlie says his name.
    DaytimeLogo1-14-91
  3. The opening is slightly altered to superimpose the logo over a shot of the day's contestants. The logo itself settles to the bottom of the screen when it finishes forming, and rises back up to zoom back out.
  4. The first prize is now added in Round 1, so the three-prize scenario could occur in Round 3.
  5. If a prize is claimed, its value now appears on a chyron.
  6. Except for the cash, Bonus Round prizes are increased to the $10,000 range.
  7. The fee plugs are either eliminated or moved to after the third segment. The only end-of-show plug that continues is promotion of Wheel merchandise (all based on the nighttime show). As the credits begin, the Wheel can be seen slowly starting its automation. During any sweepstakes episodes (see below), the credits begin with a disclaimer about the sweepstakes (phone number, mail-in address, and addresses for both rules and winner's lists) followed by either an aforementioned merchandise plug or the credits. The third segment fee plug is usually for a door prize but often a parting gift plug.
  8. If a fee plug occurs after the third segment, the graphic flips up for the camera at the beginning and then flips over at the end (similar to a book page) to a shot of the audience; during this shot, a stacked non-logo puzzle board-style "Wheel of Fortune" text on a rolling Rounds 1-2 template with Free Spin disc and Prize wedge (also seen on some nighttime Walt Disney World shows) scrolls across the bottom of the screen.
  9. The sponsor list is back as one, and, as per NBC's game show tradition, the disclaimer is changed to "The following companies have paid a fee and/or furnished merchandise to the production company for promoting their products."
  • On January 14:
    • Bob notes that he and the staff are "pleased as punch to be back home on NBC".
    • Three males play.
    • In a fairly unusual occurrence, the Prize wedges remaining on the Wheel are removed before Round 5 so Bob can make the Final Spin.
    • After the closing plug (for Pressman's second Travel Edition), the sponsor list is shown as the camera zooms out from the center of the spinning Wheel, almost to the point where it can be seen in its entirety (a shot very similar to the classic host and hostess sign-off in the 1970s-80s).
  • Sometime after the return to NBC, GUM is a bonus puzzle. This is both the first known instance of a three-letter bonus puzzle and a bonus puzzle without RSTLNE in it.
  • On an episode sometime between January 16 and early February (Edward/Diana/Patrick), Patrick calls a letter on a Prize wedge and asks to solve immediately afterward. Bob reminds him to pick up the Prize wedge; Patrick does, after which he solves the puzzle.
  • By the above episode, the prize value chyron begins flashing if a contestant claims it.
  • Lonni/Kimberly/Martha also airs sometime between January 16 and early February.
  • As of the above episode, the intro is still the same as it was on January 14.

February 1991:

  • February 25-March 25 is the Cashpot Sweepstakes, where home viewers enter to solve each day's Cashpot puzzle: a partially-filled puzzle is shown after Round 1 with category as the Bonus Round timer plays, followed by the double-buzz; viewers then have until 10:00 AM Eastern the following day to call 900-436-5000 ($2.00 per minute, average call 2 minutes) to solve the puzzle, using their touch-tone phone keys to fill in the letters; viewers may enter twice per puzzle, but busy signals do not count toward this. Some other notes about the Sweepstakes:
    • There is a no-cost mail-in alternate method of entering, which is to send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: Wheel's "Cash Pot" Alternate Entry Control; P.O. Box 34985; Omaha, Nebraska; 68134. Envelopes must be received by April 10 for alternate entry calls on April 19.
    • Viewers requesting a list of rules and/or winners may send a self-addressed stamped envelope to: "Rules" and/or "Winners": Wheel's Cash Pot; P.O. Box 662; Sayreville, New Jersey; 08871.
    • For the first three weeks, five winners each day receive $1,000 in cash, for a total of $25,000 each week.
    • The $1,000 award, $25,000 total, and phone number use the "classic" money graphic font that had been dropped from daytime in July or August 1989.
    • The deadline for Friday puzzles is 10:00 AM the following Monday.
    • All callers receive a booklet containing over $5 in discount coupons on six well-known products from the Thomas J. Lipton company; Charlie plugs one of these products after Bob mentions this. Vermont and Washington State residents may omit return postage. Viewers must allow 6-8 weeks for the Thomas J. Lipton product coupons to be mailed.
    • Proceeds from the calls will be donated by NBC to a charity of their choice.
    • Only one round is played in the first segment, and it is believed that some games only go to three rounds.
    • Upon coming back from the final break, Charlie gives the answer to the previous episode's Cashpot puzzle. The puzzle board's trilons are all showing their green-glitter side; the set is quiet and only Bob is present, reminding viewers about the sweepstakes before he signs off.
  • The February 26 show is Episode #DT032.

March 1991:

  • The known Cashpot puzzles this month are:
    • March 8: HIGH AND MIGHTY (or HIGH & MIGHTY).
    • March 11: PEP TALK.
    • March 15 (possibly): I Q TEST; a Chicago Tribune picture dated March 17 has this puzzle with the Cashpot phone number and cost.
    • March 18: CHEESE PIZZA.
    • March 19: NO TRESPASSING.
    • March 20: RED AS A BEET.
    • March 21: PINCH HITTER.
  • By March 11 (Jennifer/Trei/Whitney), the opening is slightly altered to remove the superimposed Wheel logo from the shot of the day's contestants.
  • On March 11:
    • There is no closeup of the Round 3 Prize, and its value does not use a comma.
    • No letters are added to the Speed-Up puzzle SIX-SHOOTER for twelve turns in a row; the cycle includes 11 wrong letters and a repeated E. Altogether, thirteen wrong letters and one repeat are called in the round.
    • Contestant Trei accidentally calls E in the Bonus Round, but unlike most other accidental RSTLNE calls in the Bonus Round, it does not appear on the chyron. Instead, the chyron does not even display his third consonant (P) until after he chooses A as his vowel.
    • All of the puzzles are abnormally short, with Round 1 being the longest at only 17 letters.
  • For the week of March 18 (the final Cashpot week), the number of winners per day is doubled to 10; as a result, the total cash payout is doubled to $50,000 (also signified by the aforementioned money graphic). This is the last known use of the "large" (five- or six-digit) money graphics on the daytime show.
  • On March 19 (John/Glenn/Elaine):
    • The Prize wedges move between rounds: Round 1's prize (artwork) starts on the pink $250, then moves to the yellow $200 for Rounds 2-3; Round 2's prize (a ring) starts on the purple $100 and moves to the blue $100 for Round 3, with that round's prize (a spa) taking the purple $100.
    • For the second known time, Augustus provides Bob's wardrobe.
  • On March 21 (Rosie/Dave/Mary):
    • Bob still does the opening spin.
    • In Round 2, all three contestants give answers that are initially ruled incorrect for the Clue puzzle SINGING GROUP OR STATE (Alabama); however, during the commercial break, the third contestant's (Rosie's) guess of Kansas is determined to be acceptable, and she is given the $250 bonus before the start of Round 3.
    • After the March 20 Cashpot answer is announced, Vanna is next to Bob on-set as they chat about the 21st being the first day of Spring and how the proverb "March comes in like a lion and out like a lamb." came about. Bob then reads off some of the sweepstakes winners and reminds the viewers about the day's puzzle before he and Vanna sign off.
    • For the third known time, Augustus provides Bob's wardrobe.
  • On March 25, the final Cashpot puzzle answer and its winners are announced.
    PhoneWheel1991
  • Possibly after the Cashpot Sweepstakes, the show holds a Phone Wheel of Fortune game through March 31. Viewers call in anytime during the week and play a game over the phone much like the Cashpot, by calling 900-454-8101 and trying to solve five puzzles in the fastest time. Winners receive $500 in cash, with all callers receiving a Super Family Savings Book containing more than $500 in discount coupons. Unlike the Cashpot, the cost is $1.95 per minute and the average call is 5 minutes.
    • At least one commercial is done for this contest, which results in the final time the "Wheel! Of! Fortune!" chant is used with an overhead shot of the spinning Wheel (in this case, the Round 1 layout with no Free Spin and no logo covering the Wheel), and possibly the last use of the shot itself. The camera zooms into the green center as the Phone Wheel of Fortune logo appears, similar to the opening transition used from the 1974 pilots through at least May 20, 1976.

April 1991:

  • As of April 16, the Bonus Round chevron backdrops still look the same as they did on July 17, 1989.

May 1991:

  • According to a contemporary magazine article, the show does another play-by-phone contest this month.
  • By May 6, the Bonus Round chevron backdrops add lights which flash during the opening, bonus prize descriptions, and credits. Probably at the same time, and definitely by the 23rd, Bob stops doing the opening spin entirely.
  • For the week of May 6, contestants play with their mothers, likely in appreciation of Mother's Day (although it does not appear to use the Friday Finals format). During this week:
    • The mothers are given a rose at some point before the interviews.
    • Bob refers to each team by their last name.
    • Each mother receives a basket of chocolates from Paron Chocolatier, which is plugged by Charlie at the beginning of the final segment.
  • On May 6 (Jean & Stephanie/Josh & Joanne/Brendan & Arlene):
    • Bob does not do the opening spin, although that may be because of the number of players being interviewed.
    • The value of the Round 1 Prize zooms in.
    • In Round 1, the buzzer accidentally sounds on a correct letter.
    • The Prize value chyron is not used when the yellow team picks up the Prize wedge in Round 1.
    • In what appears to be a rarity for this era, the Round 2 Prize is worth less than the one added for Round 1.
    • In a very rare occurrence, the Round 3 Prize includes a food item; specifically, it is a dining set with Archway cookies.
    • Following Round 3, Charlie plugs the door prize.
    • The remaining Prize wedges are removed before Round 4, which begins as a Speed-Up.
    • The car, which is played for in the Bonus Round and won, has three camera angles shown during its description: two on top and one on the bottom, though the top two seem to be identical.
    • During the final segment, the chevron lights do not flash, the car turntable is not active as Bob and Vanna are with the winners, and the Wheel's automation starts about a couple of seconds after the sponsor list appears.
  • On May 23 (Sherrie/Joyce/Suanne):
    • Vanna wears a shirt and pants.
    • Only Thing(s) and Phrase are used: Round 1 and the Bonus Round are Thing, Round 4 is Things, and Rounds 2 and 3 are Phrase.
    • There are three Prizes on the Wheel in Round 3; one is claimed, and is replaced by a fourth Prize in Round 4.
    • The cameras switch to the over-the-Wheel shot too soon, catching it in mid-spin.
    • During the closing disclaimer, the day's champion can be seen walking in to join Bob and Vanna.
  • On May 24, all Prize wedges are removed before Round 5, which begins as a Speed-Up.
  • On May 24 and 27, Bob plugs the Summer Vacation Bonanza Sweepstakes (see below). The latter is the last known use of the "classic" money graphic, which interestingly has a large shadow effect.
  • May 27 is Memorial Day. On this episode:
    • In honor of the holiday, Vanna wears Stars and Stripes clothing.
    • The remaining Prize wedges are not removed before the Final Spin, but are absent from the Wheel during the credits.
    • The contestant's Bonus Round letters are displayed in light green. This is either a fluke or a short-lived alteration; see below.
    • For the fourth and final known time, Augustus provides Bob's wardrobe.
June 1991:
BobGoen6-91
  • June 3-July 1 is the Summer Vacation Bonanza Sweepstakes, played much like the Cashpot and Phone Wheel of Fortune. Like the Cashpot, average calls are 2 minutes and cost $2.00 per minute, and the game is played the same way (see rules, above). Each puzzle awards a vacation and five $1,000 cash prizes, with destinations including the Bahamas, Hawaii, Mexico, and Walt Disney World (Orlando, Florida); each vacation includes airfare and $500 spending cash. Some other notes about the Sweepstakes:
    • All callers receive Summer Bonanza coupons, with discounts for various hotels.
    • The phone number is changed to 900-436-4000. The address for rules and/or winners is changed to "Rules" and/or "Winners": Wheel's Summer Vacation Bonanza; P.O. Box 678; Sayreville, New Jersey, 08871.
  • On a Friday episode sometime this month, possibly the 28th (Gitta/Cheyenne/Ed):
    • The Round 2 puzzle FIRST FOUR BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT is the only known instance of Clue requiring multiple correct answers (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). When that answer appears on the chyron, it requires two rows.
    • Bob's Final Spin lands on Lose A Turn.
    • Cheyenne retires with $26,870. She sweeps the game and wins a Toyota in the Bonus Round.
    • The contestant's Bonus Round letters appear to be displayed in black.

July 1991:

  • Alternate entry request envelopes for the above sweepstakes are accepted through July 8; the week of July 15 is used for alternate entry calls.
  • It is possible, but by no means certain, that some changes made for Seasons 8-9 are implemented in July or August.

August 1991:

  • August 5 is Teen Week, with the Friday Finals format.
  • On August 9 (Staci/Shawn/Sharon):
    • The Bonus Round chevron backdrops are not present, their place taken by low-level clouds. It is not known whether this was a permanent change, as they were still present through at least part of June.
    • Bob mentions that the finalists each won a car in their respective Bonus Round.
    • The Round 1 prize is a $1,000 Service Merchandise gift certificate for sporting goods, whose wedge says "SHOP". It is claimed and won.
    • The remaining Prize wedges are removed for the Final Spin.
    • Shawn wins $11,802 in the main game.
    • Shawn's letters (displayed in black) fill in the bonus puzzle SNACK BAR completely. He leaves with a grand total of $30,910, including the $5,000 from this Bonus Round.
    • Before the credits, the Wheel can be heard slowly starting its automation; towards the end, there is a wide shot of the set.
  • By the end of this month, Title/Author is almost certainly used at least once.
  • August 30 is the last first-run episode, although according to one recollection it is not mentioned on-air. Repeats air through September 20.
  • It was once rumored that Wheel continued through December 31, 1993 in first-run or repeats. While there have been cases of affiliates showing repeats of cancelled network games (the original versions of Jeopardy! and Gambit), the rumors about Wheel appear to be no more than wishful thinking.

Wheel 2000 (1997-98)Edit

  • While Wheel 2000 aired in daytime on network television (more specifically, Saturday mornings on CBS), it is considered a derivative of the nighttime show. See Wheel 2000#Timeline.

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