‘Wheel of Fortune’ legend Pat Sajak turns 77: From Army disc jockey to setting TV records

Pat Sajak celebrates his 77th birthday!

The popular game show host was destined to live in front of the cameras. After starting out as his radio personality, Sajak was able to expand his audience and became one of the most recognizable faces and names in television history.

In June, Sajak announced he was leaving the show. “Now, the time has come,” Sajak wrote in a statement. “I’ve decided that my 41st season starting in September will be my last. It’s been a great season and I’ll have more to say in the coming months. Thank you everyone. (If nothing else, clickbait (The site will be busy!) Later, it was announced that Ryan Seacrest would be his successor.

A look back at Sajak’s journey from small-town disc jockey to ‘Wheel of Fortune’.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ fans beg Pat Sajak’s daughter Maggie to host show with Vanna White

“I’m most proud of it.”

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During the Vietnam War, Sajak was an Army Specialist 5th Class trained as a clerk typist. After initially being sent overseas as a financial clerk, Sajak requested a transfer and was sent to Saigon, now Ho Chi Minh City, as a disc jockey.

“I was feeling a little guilty about my relatively ‘soft’ duties,” Sajak wrote on the USO website in June 2014. “But it always made me feel a little better when I met people who came into town from the field and thanked us.” I always thought it was strange that I should be grateful to them, but they reminded me of the importance of providing entertainment for those we serve.”

In an essay posted on the USO website, Sajak called his time in the military “one of the things I’m most proud of in my life.”

early career

Pat Sajak began his career as a disc jockey in Nashville, Tennessee, and quickly became the station’s weekend weather forecaster. (Photo credit: CBS via Getty Images)

After returning from the war, Sajak worked as a disc jockey at WSM in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as the station’s television announcer, and was selected as the station’s new leading weekend weather forecaster. Ta. While there, he developed a reputation as a jokester.

“He was the announcer in the booth after we did the news and weather on Saturday nights,” Sajak’s colleague and former WSMV4 sports director Rudy Cullis said in June. “Well, he was so tired of doing that, because he had to be here until midnight. And he sat down in his seat and said, “Oh, no, no, no, no, no. So all of a sudden, all you saw was that,” he said off the top of his head, but he said the reason was to make sure management was watching. said. ”

Soon, he was hired by KNBC as one of their West Coast weather forecasters.

‘Wheel of Fortune’

Pat Sajak and Vanna White on the set of 'Wheel of Fortune'

Pat Sajak began hosting “Wheel of Fortune” in 1981. (Eric McCandless/ABC via Getty Images)

While working on the West Coast, he caught the attention of “Wheel of Fortune” creator Merv Griffin, who was looking for a new host. Sajak made her hosting debut on December 23, 1981, and Vanna White debuted a year later, marking the start of their iconic 40-year partnership.

Sajak’s star continued to rise while hosting the show, co-hosting the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from 1984 to 1986, and starting his own talk show, The Pat Sajak Show, in 1989. It got to the point where I did it.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ host Pat Sajak retires: he always shocked viewers

In September 2022, Sajak overtook former “Price is Right” host Bob Barker to become the game show’s longest-running host, having helmed the show for 40 years.

He announced his retirement in June 2023, and the game show’s next season will be his last as host. In addition to setting this record, he has been nominated for 23 Daytime Emmy Awards, winning three of them, received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and received a star on the 2011 Daytime Emmy Award. He received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emmy Awards.

Emmy Award Winner Pat Sajak

Pat Sajak won three Daytime Emmy Awards and was nominated another 20 times during his career. (Photo credit: ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP, Getty Images)

Following the news of Sajak’s departure, White wrote, “Who could have imagined when we started @WheelofFortune that we would still be around 41 seasons later? Sharing the stage with you all for so many years. I couldn’t be happier with what I was able to do.” More will come. Cheers, @patsajak!”

family life

Pat Sajak and family at radio premiere

Pat Sajak married Leslie Brown in 1989 and they have two children, Maggie and Patrick. (Photo provided by Ray Mikushaw/WireImage)

Sajak was married to his first wife, Cheryl Sajak, from 1979 to 1986. Shortly after his divorce, Sajak met Leslie Brown, fell in love, and married in 1989. The couple quickly started a family, welcoming a son, Patrick, in 1990 and a daughter, Maggie, in 1995.

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The TV host is proud of his two children, and in an episode of “Wheel of Fortune,” he revealed how proud he is of his son after he graduated from medical school and officially became a doctor. It was announced that there would be no. Meanwhile, Maggie graduated from law school in May.

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In 2021, Maggie signed on as a social correspondent for “Wheel of Fortune.” As a correspondent, Maggie will share exclusive behind-the-scenes content, including interviews with contestants and the entire staff. She also manages the show’s various social media accounts.

Maggie has also appeared in front of the camera on the show. She served as the “Special Letter Toucher” in 2020, filling in for White, who was hosting the show in Pat’s absence. She then returned on an episode of “Celebrity Wheel of Fortune” in 2023, where she served as a stand-in for the game-playing White.

Pat Sajak and Maggie Sajak's Wheel of Fortune Set

Pat Sajak became emotional while introducing his daughter while hosting an episode of “Wheel of Fortune.” (Christopher Willard/ABC via Getty Images)


When introducing Maggie on an episode of Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, Pat got emotional and even told his daughter that she was going to cry when she came on stage, but her daughter said, “Me too.” !” I answered. ”

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