Pat Sajak
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Pat Sajak

Pat Sajak
USMC-10612 (cropped).jpg
Sajak in 2006 hosting Wheel of Fortune
Born
Patrick Leonard Sajdak

(1946-10-26) October 26, 1946 (age 74)
Alma materColumbia College Chicago
Occupation
Years active1968-present
Notable credit(s)
Wheel of Fortune (1981-present)
Political partyRepublican[1]
  • Sherrill Sajak
    (m. 1979; div. 1986)
  • Lesly Brown-Sajak
    (m. 1989)
Children2, including Maggie Sajak

Pat Sajak ( SAY-jak, born Patrick Leonard Sajdak;[2] October 26, 1946) is an American television personality and game show host. He is best known as the host of the American television game show Wheel of Fortune. For his work on Wheel, Sajak has received 19 nominations for the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Game Show Host, winning three times.

Early life

Born in Chicago on October 26, 1946,[2] Sajak was also raised there, the son of Joyce Helen (Brandecka) and Leonard Anthony Sajdak, a factory worker, who died when Sajak was young.[3] All of his grandparents were Polish. After Sajak's father's death, his mother married Walter Backal. Sajak graduated from Farragut High School in 1964, then went to Columbia College Chicago while working as a desk clerk at the Palmer House hotel.[4]

He served in the U.S. Army as a disc jockey during the Vietnam War for American Forces Vietnam Network.[5] Sajak hosted the same Dawn Buster radio show that Adrian Cronauer had, and for 14 months followed Cronauer's tradition of signing on with "Good Morning Vietnam!"[6]

Career

Sajak won a contest on WLS radio's Dick Biondi Show to be a guest teen deejay. While at Columbia College Chicago, his broadcasting instructor Al Parker told him that a local radio station (WEDC) was looking for a newsman. Sajak applied for the job and was hired to work from midnight to 6:00 am. In 1968, Sajak joined the U.S. Army and was sent to Vietnam, where he served as a disc jockey on Armed Forces Radio. On the Military Channel's program, An Officer and a Movie, Sajak admitted to botching President Richard Nixon's 1969 Christmas broadcast to the troops; he accidentally cut the feed off prematurely. Upon realizing the error, he decided it would be best not to resume the feed. In the early 1970s, Sajak DJed for a Murray, Kentucky, radio station for a year.[7] Also in the early 1970s, Sajak began DJing at 50,000-watt WSM in Nashville; at the time, WSM was playing pop music during the day, and he was the 3:00-5:00 pm afternoon personality. The radio station's television sister, WSM-TV (now WSMV), brought Sajak on screen, first as a voiceover artist doing station identifications and anchoring the five-minute newscasts during NBC's Today Show, then as a weekend and substitute weatherman, where he became acquainted with anchor Dan Miller. In 1977, KNBC-TV in Los Angeles was looking for a weatherman, and spotted Sajak working in Nashville. Sajak accepted KNBC's request for him to be a full-time weatherman for the station.

In 1981, Merv Griffin asked Sajak if he would be interested in taking over the duties as host on Wheel of Fortune from Chuck Woolery. However, Fred Silverman, the president and CEO of NBC, rejected his hiring, claiming he was too local, and Griffin responded by imposing a moratorium on new tapings until Sajak was hired.[8] The issue became moot when Silverman was dismissed due to repeated programming failures and replaced by Brandon Tartikoff. Sajak, who had already hosted two game show pilots in 1980, Press Your Luck for Ralph Edwards (no relation to the 1983 CBS game show of the same name) and Puzzlers for Mark Goodson, accepted the position. He hosted both the daytime (NBC) and syndicated evening versions of Wheel from 1983 to 1989, and continues to host the latter version. With Sajak returning for his 36th season in 2018-19, he became the longest-running host of any game show, surpassing Bob Barker, who hosted The Price Is Right from 1972 to 2007. Sajak was officially honored as such by the Guinness World Records with the episode taped March 22, 2019 and aired May 8, 2019 (two days before the primetime version's 7,000th episode).[9]

Sajak had a small role as a Buffalo, New York, newscaster in the 1982 comedy film Airplane II: The Sequel. When his late-night talk show on CBS premiered in January 1989, he left the daytime version of Wheel, and was replaced by former San Diego Chargers place-kicker Rolf Benirschke (who was later replaced by Bob Goen when the daytime show moved to CBS in July of that year). Sajak appeared on Super Password several times from 1984 to 1989, as well as Password Plus in 1981, shortly before taking on hosting duties on Wheel. Other game shows on which Sajak guested were Dream House and Just Men!.

Sajak was grand marshal of the National Memorial Day Parade in 2011.[10]

Sajak hosted a short-lived late-night talk show on CBS from January 9, 1989, to April 13, 1990.[11] Dan Miller, Sajak's old friend and former anchor at WSM-TV in Nashville, joined Sajak as his sidekick.[12] Sajak later became a frequent guest host for CNN's Larry King Live when King was unable to attend.[13] He also became a regular substitute host for Regis Philbin on the syndicated Live with Regis and Kelly.[14] Sajak also hosted a program, Pat Sajak Weekend, on the Fox News Channel in 2003.[15] From at least 2002, he hosted The Pat Sajak Baseball Hour, a syndicated weekly radio sports talk show that ended in 2006 due to scheduling conflicts.[16][17]

Sajak is an external director of conservative publishing house Eagle Publishing[18] and is on the board of trustees at Hillsdale College in southern Michigan, currently as vice chairman.[19] He has written for Human Events and served on the board of directors for the Claremont Institute.

In 1983, Sajak portrayed Kevin Hathaway in the NBC daytime soap opera Days of Our Lives.

In 1993, Sajak appeared as himself on the popular children's cartoon show Rugrats.[20]

In 1997, Sajak pulled an April Fool's Day prank on fans when Vanna White and he were contestants on an episode of Wheel hosted by Alex Trebek. The winnings of both Sajak and White were donated to charity (in this case, the American Cancer Society and the Boy Scouts of America). In return, Sajak hosted a regular episode of Jeopardy! in place of Trebek. He also appeared at the beginning of a 2010 April Fool's episode, along with Jeff Probst and Neil Patrick Harris.

In 2001, he appeared as himself in the episode "Inner Tube" on the sitcom The King of Queens.

Sajak began writing for the National Review Online in 2010. In his first post, he questioned whether public employees should be allowed to vote on issues that would benefit them directly.[21][22] He also has contributed to the center-right sociopolitical / social networking website, Ricochet.com.[23]

Sajak also is the author of several puzzle games, the first and best-known of them being "Lucky Letters", which debuted in 2007. The games, which Sajak developed with puzzle developer David L. Hoyt, are syndicated through Universal Uclick.[24]

Sajak has also appeared on episodes of ESPN Radio's The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, as well as Le Batard's other show, Highly Questionable.[25][26]

On May 8, 2019, Sajak broke the world record for having the longest career as game-show host for the same show, hosting Wheel of Fortune for 38 years and 198 days.[27]

Sajak is signed as host of Wheel of Fortune until 2022.[28]

In popular culture

Sajak with Vanna White in 2006

Pat Sajak was parodied in a 1980s Sesame Street sketch, with a Muppet named Pat Playjacks hosting "Squeal of Fortune". The goal was for the contestants (Prairie Dawn and The Count) to guess how many times a pig in the center of the wheel would squeal before the wheel stopped.[29]

During the 1980s, comedian Martin Short frequently portrayed a fictional character he called Ed Grimley, a hyperactive manchild who is obsessed with banal popular culture - Sajak in particular - on the sketch comedy television shows SCTV and Saturday Night Live.

In 1986, Sajak and his Wheel of Fortune co-star Vanna White portrayed themselves on an episode of the NBC sitcom 227.

In the fourth episode of season three of Comedy Central's Brickleberry, "That Brother's My Father", Pat Sajak gets kidnapped and becomes a hostage to the wheel of fortune.

In the 1994 Rugrats episode "Chuckie is Rich", Pat Sajak awards Chaz with $10 million. His son, Pat Sajak Jr., also appeared in the episode as one of the children in the wealthy daycare. Pat Sajak also voices himself in the episode.

In the fourth-season episode of The A-Team called "Wheel of Fortune", Pat Sajak makes a cameo along with co-star Vanna White. In the episode, Murdock wins big at Wheel of Fortune due to Face's system of guessing the letters correctly.

In 1992, Sajak was a special guest star in the TV show The Commish. The episode first aired on November 7, 1992, and was called "The Two Faces Of Ed". He played psychologist Brian Brandon.

Personal life

Sajak is married to Lesly Brown Sajak, a photographer, with whom he has a son, Patrick Michael James Sajak (born September 22, 1990), and a daughter, Maggie Marie Sajak (born January 5, 1995). The couple lives in Severna Park, Maryland,[30] with a second home in Los Angeles, California.[31]

In 2005, Sajak became an investor in the Golden Baseball League, an independent professional baseball league with teams in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Alberta, British Columbia, and Baja California.[32][33] During a guest appearance in the broadcast booth at a March 2012 Baltimore Orioles - Boston Red Sox spring-training game,[34] Sajak acknowledged that he had called some baseball games in the past.

Sajak is featured in a brief film shown at the visitor's center at Mount Vernon, the residence of George Washington, where he explains to tourists the attractions of the site.[35][36] Sajak owns Maryland-based AM radio station WNAV in Annapolis (since 1998).

Sajak has written a number of columns for the conservative magazine Human Events.[37] According to NEWSMEAT, Sajak has donated over $17,000 to candidates and election committees, all associated with the Republican Party.[38] Sajak is also a regular poster and podcast participant on the conservative blog Ricochet.com.[39] He has long acknowledged being a climate change skeptic.[40] He is also a financial supporter of the Young America's Foundation, which sponsors conservative speakers on college campuses.[41]

Sajak is a member of the Churches of Christ.[42]

Sajak is an avid fan of the Washington Capitals NHL team. He is a longtime season-ticket holder and made an on-ice appearance before game three of the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals.[43]

Health

On November 8, 2019, Sajak underwent emergency intestinal surgery to remove a blockage.[44][45] While Sajak recovered, co-host Vanna White hosted in his place. The first taping day in which Sajak was incapacitated was a Disney-themed Christmas episode week, and Disney characters took over White's role at the puzzle board for that week.[46][47]

Sajak returned to work on December 5, 2019.[48]

References

  1. ^ NEWSMEAT ? Pat Sajak's Federal Campaign Contribution Report Archived 2008-04-15 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "Pat Sajak Biography". TVGuide.com. Archived from the original on April 1, 2016. Retrieved 2007.
  3. ^ "Leonard Anthony Sajdak (1921-1961) - Find A Grave..." www.findagrave.com. Retrieved 2017.[unreliable source?]
  4. ^ "Meet Pat Sajak". patsajakgames.com. P.A.T. Productions and Uclick. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved 2009.
  5. ^ "Famous Veterans: Pat Sajak". Military.com. Retrieved 2020.
  6. ^ Sajak, Pat (June 7, 2014). "'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Recounts His Days as an Army DJ". USO.org. Retrieved 2018.
  7. ^ "The Good Fortunes of Pat Sajak". The New York Times. December 11, 1988. p. 4. Retrieved 2014.
  8. ^ Griffin, Merv. Merv: Making the Good Life Last. New York: Pocket Books, 2003, page 101
  9. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune' celebrates 2 milestones this week". WLUK-TV. May 8, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ American Veterans Center (May 25, 2011). "2011 National Memorial Day Parade Lineup". www.marching.com. Archived from the original on December 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "CBS Television Cancels 'The Pat Sajak Show'". The New York Times. April 10, 1990. p. C16. Retrieved 2020.
  12. ^ "Passings: Dan Miller". Los Angeles Times. April 10, 2009. Retrieved 2020.
  13. ^ Sajak hosted at least eight episodes of Larry King Live, including December 26, 2000; May 3, 2001; May 7, 2001; May 8, 2001; May 9, 2001; May 10, 2001; June 4, 2001; and January 5, 2003, according to CNN transcripts.
  14. ^ Mitovich, Matt Webb (January 18, 2011). "Regis Philbin Leaving Live!: Who Should Replace Him?". TVLine. Retrieved 2020.
  15. ^ "Pat Sajak Weekend". Fox News. Retrieved 2020.
  16. ^ Deitsch, Richard (August 5, 2002). "Q+A Pat Sajak". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2020.
  17. ^ Hubbard, Ryan (March 10, 2008). "Pat Sajak quips he's used performing-enhancing drugs for Wheel of Fortune". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2020.
  18. ^ Regnery Publishing: "Eagle Publishing Corporate Information" Archived 2009-04-14 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Board of Trustees". Hillsdale College. Retrieved 2015.
  20. ^ "Rugrats Episodes for 1993". rugratonline.com. Steve Mindykowski. Archived from the original on May 20, 2010. Retrieved 2009. Pat Sajak appeared as himself in this episode as the presenter of the $10 million check, as well as endorser of the magazine contest.
  21. ^ Sajak, Pat (October 13, 2010). "Public Employees and Elections: A Conflict of Interest?". National Review Online.
  22. ^ Amira, Dan (October 14, 2010). "Pat Sajak Should Stick to Telling People Which Letters Are in Certain Words and Phrases". New York Magazine.
  23. ^ "Pat Sajak Profile". Silent Cal Productions. Retrieved 2012.
  24. ^ PatSajakGames.com. Retrieved December 25, 2011.
  25. ^ "Dan LeBatard & Stugotz". AM 790 The Ticket. Archived from the original on August 28, 2016. Retrieved 2017. friends of the program ... Pat Sajak
  26. ^ Peters, Michah (December 12, 2014). "Pat Sajak rapped a few bars of a Rae Sremmurd song on Highly Questionable". For the Win. USA Today. Retrieved 2017.
  27. ^ "Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak celebrates record-breaking career on popular gameshow". Guinness World Records. May 8, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  28. ^ Crucchiola, Jordan (October 31, 2018). "This Game-Show Host Is Not Retiring". Archived from the original on November 1, 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  29. ^ "Squeal of Fortune". YouTube.
  30. ^ "Pat Sajak's House in Severna Park, MD (#2)". May 18, 2009.
  31. ^ Aaron Barnhart, "Wheel of Very Good Fortune for Sajak", Chicago Tribune, May 12, 2005.
  32. ^ Golden Baseball League Ownership Group (Biographies) Archived 2008-08-03 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Vanna gives us letters, but Sajak gives us baseball! (GBL Medford website, August 28, 2008)[dead link]
  34. ^ "Bobby Valentine Meets With 'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Prior to Red Sox-Orioles Game (Photo)". NESN. WordPress. Retrieved 2013.
  35. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (October 24, 2006). "Fleshing Out a Founding Father". The Washington Post.
  36. ^ Trescott, Jacqueline (November 5, 2006). "George Washington: Surveyor, slave owner, soldier / New Mount Vernon exhibits reveal more facets of president". San Francisco Chronicle.
  37. ^ A list of articles by Pat Sajak online at Human Events magazine
  38. ^ NEWSMEAT ? Pat Sajak's Federal Campaign Contribution Report Archived 2008-04-15 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ "Membership - Ricochet".
  40. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune' Host Pat Sajak Under Fire for Global Warming Tweet?!". Fox News. May 21, 2014. Retrieved 2014. Sajak has long acknowledged that he is a climate change skeptic.
  41. ^ Saul, Stephanie (May 20, 2017). "The Conservative Force Behind Speeches Roiling College Campuses". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017.
  42. ^ "Famous members of the Churches of Christ". Adherents.com. 2015. Retrieved 2015.
  43. ^ Zielonka, Adam (June 2, 2018). "Joe Gibbs, Pat Sajak, Sting among celebs supporting Capitals at Game 3". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2019.
  44. ^ Haas, Mariah (November 8, 2019). "Wheel of Fortune' host Pat Sajak recovering from emergency surgery, Vanna White to fill in". Fox News. New York City: Fox Corporation. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  45. ^ Telling, Gillian (November 8, 2019). "Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak Recovering From Emergency Surgery; Vanna White to Host in His Absence". People. United States: Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on November 9, 2019. Retrieved 2019.
  46. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune' taping interrupted for Pat Sajak emergency surgery, Vanna White to host". TODAY.com. Retrieved 2019.
  47. ^ "Pat Sajak Sidelined By Emergency Surgery, Vanna White To Host". TMZ. Retrieved 2019.
  48. ^ "'Wheel of Fortune's Pat Sajak Returns to Work Following Surgery". TV Insider. Archived from the original on December 10, 2019. Retrieved 2019.

External links

Media offices
Preceded by
Chuck Woolery
Host of Wheel of Fortune (daytime)
1981-1989
Succeeded by
Rolf Benirschke
New show Host of Wheel of Fortune (syndicated)
September 19, 1983-December 6, 2019
Succeeded by
Vanna White
Awards
Preceded by
Bob Barker
Daytime Emmy Award for
Outstanding Game Show Host

1993
Succeeded by
Bob Barker
Daytime Emmy Award for
Outstanding Game Show Host

1997-1998
Succeeded by
Ben Stein and Jimmy Kimmel
Preceded by
Agnes Nixon
Recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award
at the Daytime Emmy Awards

2011
With: Alex Trebek
Succeeded by
Bill Geddie

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