“Wheel of Fortune” is the number one-rated syndicated show on television. Its star, Pat Sajak, got one of his first tastes of stardom yelling “Good Morning, Vietnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!” on a show called The Dawnbusters for Armed Forces Vietnam Radio.
Sajak, a Chicago native, left college to join the Army in what he calls “a burst of patriotism.” His hope was to get to work for Armed Forces Radio. Instead, he was trained as a clerk-typist. Sent to Vietnam as a finance clerk, he wrote to his congressman – and former boss at a small radio station he’d worked at while at college – and was amazed at what a letter from a congressman could do: From October 1968 through January 1, 1970, AFVN was his home.
Again, persistence paid off as he talked his way into a job at a Nashville station, where he worked as an announcer, talk-show host, disc jockey, weatherman. And when Los Angeles’ KNBC was looking for a new weatherman in 1977, he was chosen. Four years later, he was picked by Merv Griffin to replace Chuck Wollery as host of “Wheel of Fortune.”
Not figuring that he’d be with “Wheel” more than a couple of years, he didn’t anticipate that it would become the huge hit it is. He’s now a familiar presence on TV, having hosted several Tournament of Roses parades, a quartet of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades, and special editions of “College Bowl” and “This Is Your Life.” He’s won three Emmys and a People’s Choice Award.