All About America’s Game®
Learn more about the folks who keep the Wheel spinning.
Pat Sajak has been the host of Wheel of Fortune since 1981, when the show aired on network daytime television. The top-ranked syndicated version made its debut in 1983, and in 2021, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune premiered in primetime on ABC.
In a career spanning five decades, Pat has earned three Emmy® Awards, a People’s Choice Award and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2011, he was presented with a Daytime Emmy® Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I was very lucky in that I always knew that I wanted to be in broadcasting,” says Sajak. “My early heroes were people like Arthur Godfrey, Dave Garroway, Steve Allen and, especially, Jack Paar. They helped shape what a television personality was, paving the way for so many others.”
Sajak was born and raised in Chicago, where he broke into broadcasting as a newscaster and announcer at a small radio station. He joined the Army in 1968 and was sent to Vietnam where he joined Armed Forces Radio in Saigon where he began his daily show shouting, “Good morning, Vietnam!”
Following his discharge, Sajak spent a year at another small radio station in Murray, Kentucky, and then moved to Nashville, where he spent five years at WSM-TV as a staff announcer, talk show host and weatherman. It was in that latter role where he was spotted by a talent scout for KNBC-TV in Los Angeles and, in 1977, he joined that station as its primary weatherman.
Four years later, he was chosen by Wheel of Fortune’s creator, Merv Griffin, to assume hosting duties on the NBC daytime edition of the show. “The nice thing about working in local TV in LA,” said Sajak, “is that decision makers are watching you every night.” Merv Griffin’s decision has paid off for more than 40 years.
Vanna White is the co-host of Wheel of Fortune and Celebrity Wheel of Fortune.
Since her debut on the daytime version of Wheel of Fortune in 1982, Vanna has appeared in varieties of the show that have aired in every daypart. She has starred in more than 7,500 episodes of America’s Game®, revealing letters on the iconic puzzleboard, cheering on contestants, and dazzling in a new outfit every night. In 2019, Vanna stepped into the host position for three weeks of shows while Pat Sajak was recovering from emergency surgery.
For her work at the iconic puzzleboard, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honored Vanna with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in April 2006. In April 2018, Vanna was inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame, along with Host Pat Sajak, former Executive Producer Harry Friedman and Wheel of Fortune itself. She is also the godmother of Carnival’s newest ship, The Panorama, and christened the ship in December of 2019.
In 2021, Celebrity Wheel of Fortune debuted in primetime on ABC and will kick off its third season in September.
With her success, Vanna has given back to those in need. Combining her passions for crocheting and helping children, she launched her own line of yarn called “Vanna’s Choice,” from which a portion of the proceeds are donated to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. To date, Vanna has donated over $2 million through “Vanna’s Choice” sales. She also lends her support to other causes wherever she can. She has worked on projects for American Cancer Society, Rebuilding Together, Feeding America, Los Angeles Food Bank, American Heart Association, Susan G. Komen Foundation and Verizon Wireless’s literacy campaign, among others.
White grew up in North Myrtle Beach, S.C. After attending the Atlanta School of Fashion Design and becoming one of the area’s top models, she moved to Los Angeles in 1980 to pursue an acting career when she caught the eye of Merv Griffin and was selected to succeed Susan Stafford as the Co-Host of Wheel of Fortune.
When she isn’t on television, Vanna enjoys spending time with her family which include her longtime boyfriend, John, and her two children, Nicholas and Giovanna.
Jim Thornton is the announcer for Wheel of Fortune and Celebrity Wheel of Fortune. Since his start with the show in 2011, Thornton has become a popular figure among fans, especially on the game show’s social media platforms.
One of the most popular and distinctive voices in Southern California, Thornton has been a part of KNX 1070 Newsradio since 1985. He began by providing traffic reports through the syndicated service, “Metro Traffic.” He later became a full-time morning traffic anchor for both KNX and CBS2 News, and in 2005, was promoted to afternoon drive news co-anchor on KNX. Thornton can still be heard there weekdays when he’s not taping at Wheel of Fortune. He can also be seen hosting pledge drives for Southern California’s venerable public television station KCET and as a NODcaster™ for Now On Deck™, a site that connects fans with their favorite personalities to provide personalized messages.
In his hometown of Huntington, W. Va., Thornton began his broadcast career in 1983 at WOWK-TV while attending Marshall University. A year later, he moved to California and by 1989, he had his own morning show on Magic 94.3 FM in the San Fernando Valley. In 1992, Thornton became a “Hot Country” disc jockey for Westwood One Radio Networks, hosting a live music broadcast from coast to coast. From 1995 to 1999, he was the voice of Channel 13, KCOP-TV, in Los Angeles.
Over the course of his career, Thornton has received numerous broadcasting awards including the Edward R. Murrow award, Golden Mike awards and an Emmy. He also lent his voice to the 2011 Oscar-Nominated Short Animated Film, “Let’s Pollute.”
Viewers may also recognize Thornton’s voice from his diverse body of voiceover work including: Disney’s “Monsters, Inc.” movie, theme park ride and Disney on Ice show; television shows: “Celebrity Deathmatch,” “The Soup,” “The Cleveland Show,” “Rugrats” and “The Drew Carey Show;” national TV and radio campaigns for: Cricket Wireless, Sonic Drive-in, Domino’s Pizza, Bacardi, Budweiser, Kellogg’s Cereal, Intel and Kraft Lunchables; and video games: “Boom Blox 2,” “Wall-E,” “Finding Nemo,” “Cars” and “Mafia II.”
Thornton lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Sue, and their son, Sam. He and Sam are both Advanced Open Water SCUBA divers, and the entire family supports JDRF ever since Sam was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 2009.
1Based on a clinical study of subgroups of individuals who were cognitively normal or mildly impaired.
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