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When It Comes To Wheel, You Don't Know Dick

I love hearing about missed opportunities in Hollywood.

And not little tidbits like 'Tom Selleck turned down the role of Indiana Jones' because that story ultimately has a happy ending after Selleck achieved stardom in Magnum PI and soft-core porn (allegedly). 

I mean stories of people who missed the boat and then never managed to get off the dock.

Here's one such story...

When you ask someone, "Who started Saturday Night Live?", 9 times out of 10, their immediate answer is Lorne Michaels.

And that answer is not wrong, it's just not complete.

SNL was first started by Lorne AND ALSO Dick Ebersol, who ran late-night programming for NBC.

As a team, Ebersol had an executive role, while Lorne worked more with talent and production.

And where Lorne Michaels seems to have derived his fortune (net worth $500 million) exclusively with vehicles related to SNL and its cast members, Ebersol branched out to other avenues to leave his mark on television history.

Dick departed SNL in 1985 (after Eddie Murphy left) and went on to become president of NBC Sports by 1989… There, he presided over multiple Olympic Games AND, during the 1995–96 television season, for the only time in history the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Summer Olympics were telecast by the same network - Ebersol's NBC.   And it was following this run in 1996 that The Sporting News then named Dick the "Most Powerful Person in Sports.”

No missed opportunities yet, but I am getting to it.

Outside of his professional career, I want to mention that Ebersol was married to Susan Stafford from 1976-1981… Their wedding was attended by a handful fo the original cast, including Belushi and Chevy Chase, and, after they exchanged vows, Chase jokingly grabbed Stafford and threw her into the ocean.

But who the fuck is Susan Stafford?

She was the original Vanna White when the Merv Griffin brainchild, Wheel Of Fortune, debuted the same year as SNL (1975).

It was a sweet gig right from the jump... Susan received $1,500 per episode. She was the first game show hostess to get her own wardrobe sponsor (Giorgio), the first to have a microphone, and she was the first woman ever nominated for an Emmy on a game show.

BUT she left after 7 years believing that there needed to be something more to her life than simply turning letters.

Big fucking mistake.

Which is not to say Susan did nothing after leaving Wheel... Susan earned a B.A. in Nutrition and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology. She also has a degree in Theology from Logos International. Susan served on the Emergency Response Team following the school shootings at both Columbine and Virginia Tech, counseling survivors and family members. She has worked with "Friends of the United Nations" and started the Susan Stafford Foundation to deal with patient advocacy, human trafficking, and ecology issues.

It's a nice resumé and a noble existence, but here's my point: It's no Vanna.

Fresh from the Miss Georgia USA pageant, Vanna White stepped in for a departed Stafford on December 13, 1982, and (7,000 episodes later) Vanna is still turning letters AND is signed as a hostess of Wheel of Fortune through 2022.

Not to rub salt into Mrs. Stafford's old wound, but Vanna makes $4 million a year, has an estimated net worth of over $80 million, in 2017, she listed her Beverly Hills home for $47.5 million, she has her own line of yarn called Vanna's Choice, was in Playboy, had an alleged lesbian affair with a Penthouse Pet named Liza Greer in 1995, and is a bonified Ass From The Past.

Sajak has a similar story (minus the lesbian thing)… The original host of Wheel of Fortune was conservative crackpot Chuck Woolery, who hosted the series from its 1975 premiere until December 25, 1981 (save for one week in August 1980 when Alex Trebek hosted in his place). Woolery's departure came over a salary dispute with show creator Merv Griffin, and his contract was not renewed.

Sajak stepped in, is now worth $70 million, and is slated to make $15 million per through 2022 alongside Vanna… The 80-year-old host spends only four days a month taping the show, going through six shows each day… Sometimes bombed.

Chuck, on the other hand, has bounced around from game-show to game-show (Love Connection, Scrabble, The Dating Game, etc.), ultimately ending his career behind the mic with a show called "Lingo" in 2007.

Woolery now hosts a podcast that some have deemed anti-semitic, and on July 12, 2020, he tweeted that the CDC, doctors, the media, and Democrats were all lying about the COVID-19 pandemic… The following day, his son tested positive for the virus. 

And he also did this…

There are a shitload more tidbits like these on this week's Twisted History of SNL

Now I am off to research Selleck's alleged porn and Vanna's alleged time on the Isle of Lezbos.

Take a report.

-Large