Pat Sajak is a television personality, former weatherman, actor and talk show host, best known as the host of the American television game show Wheel of Fortune.
Sajak, son of a Polish American trucking foreman, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois. His mother, Joyce, remarried Walter Backal. He graduated from Farragut High School in 1964 and then went on to Columbia College Chicago while working as a desk clerk at the Palmer House hotel.
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 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 deejayed on Armed Forces Radio. In 1975, he began DJ’ing at 50,000-watt WSM in Nashville; at the time WSM was playing pop music during the day, and Sajak was the 3:00?5:00pm afternoon personality. Sajak moved to Los Angeles in the late 1970s to find work, and answered phones as a clerk at numerous hotels while job hunting. Later, in 1977, KNBC-TV in Los Angeles was looking for a weatherman, and spotted Sajak working for NBC affiliate WSM-TV 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 emcee of Wheel of Fortune from Chuck Woolery. However, Fred Silverman, then president and CEO of NBC, rejected his hiring, claiming he was too local, and Merv responded by imposing a moratorium on new tapings until Sajak was hired. Sajak, who had already hosted a few game show pilots, accepted the position. He hosted both the daytime and syndicated evening versions of Wheel from 1983 to 1989, and continues to host the latter version.