Wheel of Fortune Timeline - 1988

The Iran-Contra (yawn) Affair ... Geraldo takes one on the nose ... Tom Hanks gets a "Big" career boost...

Unknown, 1988 ... It's a Tie!

Daytime Wheel of Fortune ties were a mess (just ask Rolf Benirschke).  On a syndicated tie, however, bringing all three contestants back wasn't feasible.  So the rules at the time meant that an additional speed-up round was played with the tied contestants for money.  Pat would take a "final final spin of the day" and game play continued.  The tie round occurred after a commercial break, meaning the show ended in the same segment as the bonus round.  In this tie episode, Gretchen emerged victorious, decided to play for the cash (of course), and promptly failed to solve the final puzzle.

This is all the cash that was won in four rounds?  Is this a syndicated episode?? Gretchen would prove victorious in the tie-breaker round.  Can you solve this puzzle?

The winner won a spot in the bonus round and the loser was left to wonder, did I really need to buy that one vowel that cost me the chance at $25K?

July 21, 1988...Jack Clark Dies

Venerable announcer Jack Clark died on this day in 1988.  He'd handled the announcing chores on Wheel for much of the 1980s, appearing on camera a few times and always handling the tough prize copy requirements of the Shopping days on the show.  Jack of course was an announcer on many other game shows and hosted the long-running '70s show Crosswits as well.

With Jack passing between syndicated seasons, Pat eulogized Jack at the beginning of the next syndicated season in September, 1988.  MG Kelly took over the announcing reigns until Charlie O'Donnell, the show's original announcer from 1975, returned to the show in March of that year.

November, 1988...The Wheel Takes Manhattan

One of the biggest Sweeps events in the history of Wheel of Fortune was their landmark trip to the Big Apple in 1988.  Wheel and Jeopardy! had never traveled on the road before this time, and with the show's popularity at an all-time high it made sense to generate even more publicity.  The show shot two weeks of shows at Radio City Music Hall to consistently sold-out crowds.  Legendary announcer Don Pardo handled the voiceover work for the two weeks, and the show featured unbelievably expensive prizes and an overall huge budget.  Celebrities like Dick Cavett dropped in during the shows as well.

Slow news day for the Anytown Times? Nearly $300K was on offer.  Look at the suspended boat and RV above the set!

Taking the show on the road involved building special set backdrops and score podiums that would eventually become part of the show's permanent set with the move to CBS the next year.  The overall success of the trip meant that Wheel spent much of the 1990s on the road, traveling to Orlando for a memorable three-week stint in 1991, and to almost every major US city by the end of the next decade.  By that point the permanent and travel sets had become one in the same, meaning the moving task was a slightly more economical, although hardly cheap, venture.

Radio City Music Hall played host to the shows. These set pieces would become permanent when the show moved to CBS.
Debbie Reynolds was the featured guest on the first episode in NYC. Sigh.

Also in 1988...

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