‘Wheel of Fortune’: Maggie Sajak Is More Than a Guest Letter-Turner
Wheel of Fortune is an iconic game show that has been on the air in America continuously for more than four decades. And the cast is just as iconic, with Pat Sajak and Vanna White having worked together on the show for decades. The two are one of the most legendary pairs in TV history.
But they were separated for a while when Sajak had to take some time off from the show after he underwent surgery. But even though Pat wasn’t there, there was still a Sajak on set, doing White’s job for her. Here’s what happened.
TV legends Pat Sajak and Vanna White
Sajak didn’t start hosting Wheel of Fortune when it premiered in 1975, but he has been hosting it since debuting on Dec. 28, 1981, when he took over for original host Chuck Woolery. Show creator Merv Griffin says he picked Sajak, who prior to hosting Wheel was a local TV weatherman, for his “odd” sense of humor.
Likewise, even though letter turner White is closely associated with the show, she wasn’t the first woman to hold that position. Susan Stafford did that job early in the show’s run, until she left to pursue humanitarian work in 1982.
Later that year, Griffin chose White — out of more than 200 applicants — to serve as Stafford’s successor. White became the regular letter turner, also known as the hostess, on the Dec. 13, 1982 episode.
Pat Sajak’s emergency surgery
In November 2019, Sajak underwent emergency surgery after suffering from a blocked intestine, according to O: The Oprah Magazine. Rather than suspending production and taking time off until Sajak was recovered and able to return to work, Wheel producers decided to continue filming episodes in his absence.
To fill in as host during that time, they turned to the person who likely knows just as much about hosting the show as he does — Vanna White. With White hosting, the show had to find someone else to reveal the letters on the board, and producers didn’t have to go far to find that person.
Sajak’s daughter Maggie filled in for White while her father was recovering from his procedure. That continued the streak of White and a Sajak working together on the long-running game show. But it wasn’t Maggie’s first appearance on her father’s show; she made her TV debut in 1996, when Pat introduced her to viewers shortly after her first birthday.
Who is Maggie Sajak?
So who is Maggie? Born Jan. 5, 1995, she is the younger of Pat’s two children. She doesn’t make many public appearances with her family, but she doesn’t shy away from spending time in the spotlight.
She is a country singer with at least one music video to her credit, but she isn’t putting all of her eggs in the entertainment basket. In addition to pursuing a music career, Maggie made sure to get an education. According to Princeton University’s alumni directory, she graduated from the prestigious Ivy League institution with a history degree in 2016.
Maggie has kept a fairly low profile since finishing her studies at Princeton so she may no longer be interested in pursuing a career in entertainment. Or maybe not. Her appearances on Wheel during her father’s absence may have just been a way for her to help the show that has made her family’s surname internationally known.
Or Maggie’s temporary gig on the show may have been an indication that the 25-year-old is interested in getting a regular gig on TV. There is rampant speculation that Pat, 73, will be retiring within a couple of years. With White in her 60s, she may not be far behind him. If one or both leaves, that could open the door for Maggie to continue the Sajak tradition on the popular show.