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Pat Sajak ( ), born Patrick Leonard Sajdak on October 26, 1946, is a television personality, former weatherman and a former talk show host, best known as the host of the Americanmarker television game show, Wheel of Fortune.

Biography

Early life

Sajak, son of a Polish American trucking foreman, was born and raised in Chicago, Illinoismarker. His mother, Joyce, remarried to Walter Backal. During his youth, he attended Goethe Elementary School, as well as Gary Elementary School. He graduated from Farragut High School in 1964 and then went on to Columbia College Chicagomarker while working as a desk clerk at the Palmer House hotel.

Career

Sajak won a contest on WLS radiomarker'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 Vietnammarker, where he deejayed on Armed Forces Radio. In 1975, he began DJ'ing at 50,000-watt WSMmarker in Nashvillemarker; 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 Angelesmarker in the late 1970s to find work, and answered phones as a clerk at numerous hotels while job hunting. Later, in 1977, KNBCmarker-TV in Los Angelesmarker was looking for a weatherman, and spotted Sajak working for NBC affiliate WSM-TVmarker 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 (NBC) and syndicated evening versions of Wheel from 1983 to 1989, and continues to host the latter version.

Sajak had a small role as a Buffalo, New Yorkmarker newscaster in the 1982 spoof 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. Sajak appeared on Super Password several times from 1984–1989, as well as Password Plus in 1981, shortly after taking on hosting duties on Wheel.

Sajak hosted a late-night talk show on CBS from January 9, 1989 – April 13, 1990. He has since been a frequent guest host for CNN's Larry King Live when King himself was unable to attend. Sajak is also a regular substitute host for Regis Philbin on the syndicated Live With Regis and Kelly. Sajak also hosted a program, Pat Sajak Weekend, on the Fox News Channel in 2003. Sajak also currently hosts The Pat Sajak Baseball Hour, a syndicated radio sports talk show.

Sajak is an External Director of conservative publishing house Eagle Publishing and is on the Board of Trustees at Hillsdale College in southern Michiganmarker, currently as vice chairman. He has written for Human Events and served on the Board of Directors for the Claremont Institute.

In 1983, Sajak appeared as 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.

In mid-November 2009, Sajak started as the national spokesperson for BigCityDeals.com.

Personal life

Sajak is married to his second wife, Lesly Brown, and has a son named Patrick and a daughter, Maggie. The couple splits time between Severna Park, Marylandmarker, and Manhattan Beach, Californiamarker.

One of Sajak's philanthropies is an expansion of the Anne Arundel Medical Center in Annapolis, Marylandmarker; it is named the Lesly and Pat Sajak Pavilion in honor of their donations, and is commonly known as the Sajak Pavilion. The pavilion is home to the hospital's breast cancer and diabetes treatment centers. Sajak is also part-owner of Annapolis radio station WNAV 1430, which broadcasts Naval Academy events and other local items of interest, and Westminster, Marylandmarker radio station WTTRmarker, which plays Oldies. He donated $100,000 to the Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

Some sources list Sajak's religion as Roman Catholic, while others list him as a Church of Christ member.

In 2005, Sajak became an investor in the Golden Baseball League, a professional, independent baseball league with teams in Californiamarker, Arizonamarker, Nevadamarker, Utahmarker, Albertamarker, British Columbiamarker, and Baja Californiamarker.

He was a major donor to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Librarymarker and often posts political commentary on his official website. According to NEWSMEAT, Sajak has donated over $17,000 to candidates and election committees; all are associated with the Republican Party.

Sajak and his friend, Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy!, traded places on April Fools' Day 1997 with Sajak hosting Jeopardy! and Trebek hosting Wheel of Fortune with Sajak's wife, Lesly, as Trebek's co-host and Sajak and co-host Vanna White as contestants playing for charities. Sajak will be back on Jeopardy! in 2009 to play in the Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational. He is an avid fan of the Washington Capitals of the NHL, and is a season ticket holder.

Although Sajak did not graduate from Columbia College, as of 2007 he was in the process of getting his degree from Hillsdale College.

References

  1. Griffin, Merv. Merv: Making the Good Life Last. New York: Pocket Books, 2003, page 101
  2. Regnery Publishing: "Eagle Publishing Corporate Information"
  3. Golden Baseball League Ownership Group (Biographies)
  4. Vanna gives us letters, but Sajak gives us baseball! (GBL Medford website, August 28, 2008)
  5. "Sajak Says..." archive. Pat Sajak. Retrieved on June 16, 2007.
  6. NEWSMEAT ▷ Pat Sajak's Federal Campaign Contribution Report
  7. Footage of April Fools Day 1997 JEOPARDY! on YOUTUBE
  8. Footage of April Fools Day 1997 WHEEL OF FORTUNE on YOUTUBE
  9. Press Statement on Jeopardy! Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational mentioning Pat Sajak as player


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