Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Apple #262: Chuck Woolery

Let me just get this out of the way: I watch the Game Show Network. Before I had cable, I hooted with disbelief that there was such a channel and that anyone would watch it. Now that I have cable, I watch. That's TV, I guess.

But there's a new game show on that channel, called Lingo. I like word games, and this is a pretty good one. And I have to admit, one of the reasons I like it is that it's hosted by Chuck Woolery. He does look like he's done a bit of hard living. But he still seems to be pretty relaxed up there and when he laughs, it doesn't seem fake. Or at least, most of the time it doesn't. Which is more than I can say for most game show hosts. And I liked that other word game show he did for a while, Scrabble. I liked the sound effects.

His thing is to say, before a commercial, "We'll be back in two and two," and he holds up two fingers, palm facing the camera, then flips his hand around and back again. It refers to the amount of time of one commercial break: two minutes for the commercials plus one second before and one second after.

Chuck, now
(Photo from Game Show Network)

So let's find out a little more about Chuck Woolery. But first, just to get us oriented a bit, I'll list the TV shows he's hosted.

Chuck, then, in his Wheel of Fortune days
(Photo from Gameshow Galaxy)

  • Your Hit Parade (1974)
  • Tattletales (1974)
  • Wheel of Fortune, as the original host before Pat Sajak (1975-1981)
  • The $1.98 Beauty Show which was a lot like the Gong Show (1978-1980)
  • Love Connection (1983-1994)
  • Scrabble (1984-1990, 1993)
  • Playboy Playmate Playoffs (1986)
  • The Dating Game (1998-2000)
  • Ultimate Fan Search (1999)
  • Greed (1999-2000)
  • Lingo, co-hosted by Shandi Finnessey, who was Miss America 2004 (2002-present)
He's also appeared on a few episodes of Hollywood Squares.

If you've never seen it, this picture gives you an idea of the format of The Love Connection. It was like letting you be the fly on the wall in a video dating service. You got to watch people's video ads, then hear the couple talk about what their date was like. Sometimes it didn't go well at all, and sometimes, as in this episode, the couple hit it off.
(Photo sourced from Neil Kramer's blog, Citizen of the Month)

Other TV shows where he has appeared include:
  • Melrose Place, 2 episodes
  • 227, 1 episode
  • It's Garry Shandling's Show, 2 episodes
  • Late Night with David Letterman, 1 episode
  • CHiPS, 1 episode
  • Love, American Style, 1 episode in 1973
  • The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, 1 episode in 1972
  • New Zoo Revue as Mr. Dingle the toothless mailman, 1972

Here's a sample of the show Scrabble. I picked this one because you get to hear a lot of the sound effects, and also the guy Rick is a bit of a nut. With his tarantula.

Now here are some facts about Chuck's life outside of TV:

  • Chuck's full name is Charles Herbert Woolery.
  • He was born in Ashland, Kentucky on March 16, 1941.
  • He joined the US Navy and afterwards, went to college in Kentucky.
  • Post-college jobs included off-shore tuna fishing and working as a sales rep for Pillsbury.

Making use of his long-time love of fishing, Chuck has a DVD on bass fishing techniques.

  • He finally decided to be a singer and songwriter and moved to Nashville. With Elkin "Bubba" Fowler in a pop duo called The Avant Garde, he wrote and performed a song called "Naturally Stoned." The song hit #40 on the Billboard charts in 1968.
  • In 1972, after leaving Fowler and carrying on with a solo singing act, he appeared on the Johnny Carson show as a singer. Merv Griffin approached him after the show and asked if he'd ever thought about being a game show host. That conversation ultimately led to Woolery being signed as Wheel of Fortune's first host.
  • In 1981, shortly after Woolery had been divorced from his second wife, Jo Ann Pflug, he asked Griffin for a raise from $300,000 to $500,000. Griffin gave Woolery the boot and Pat Sajak his job.
  • Two years later, Woolery was hosting The Love Connection, the dating show for which he is best known.

I tried to find out what made him look so haggard, like maybe was he a big drinker or something once upon a time. I couldn't find anything that said either way. So maybe the four wives and eight kids and the quadruple bypass is what accounts for it.

  • In 1996, he had quadruple-bypass heart surgery.
  • In an interview from about four years ago, he said he reads the Bible every morning.
  • He's on his fourth marriage, and he has 8 children, two of them twins and one son adopted.
    • 1st wife: Margaret Hayes. One of their three children, Chad, died in a motorcycle accident at age 19, in 1986.
    • 2nd wife: Jo Ann Pflug, best-known for The Fall Guy

Jo Ann is on the far right
(Photo from TV Magazine.com)

    • 3rd wife: Teri Nelson, step-granddaughter of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson of early TV fame
    • 4th wife: Kim Barnes

Wedding photo from Chuck's fourth marriage in July 2006
(Photo from People)

I also found Chuck's MySpace page. On this page, he says he's only been married three times. Since his fourth marriage took place in 2006, he either hasn't updated his profile recently, or . . . something. He also talks a lot about how much he likes his Lingo co-host, Shandi.

Chuck and Shandi in a Lingo promo shot
(Photo from TV.com)

Here are some, er, highlights from his profile:

Combining strong looks with casual wit and unbounded charm, I have since become one of the most respected and liked game show hosts in the business.

[I'd like to meet] more future Lingo contestants so I can secretly ridicule their stupidity on the show.

In the shows I've seen, he's usually pretty complimentary of the players who whip through the puzzles in no time flat. But apparently when the camera isn't rolling, it's another story.

Supposedly, the Guinness Book of World Records says that the biggest Bobble-head doll is of Chuck Woolery. I leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Later addition:
By the way, lots of people have been searching the web to find out who is the politician who appeared on The Dating Game in 1972. Actually, this person is now a governor, and he was on The Dating Game in 1974.

See this You Tube clip.

Internet Movie Database (IMDB), Biography for Chuck Woolery
TV.com, Chuck Woolery
NNDB, Chuck Woolery
"Chuck Woolery...still making love connections," Askmen.com
Wikipedia, Chuck Woolery
filmreference.com, Chuck Woolery Biography


  1. I'm fairly certain Chuck didn't create that MySpace page, it's probably someone impersonating Chuck. This happens a lot with celeb MySpace pages, unfortunately.

  2. Really! Thanks for alerting me (and other readers). What makes you think it's bogus?

  3. How can a "devout born again Christian" have such a thing for Shandi?

  4. I'm a pretty big Lingo fan, and just wondered if Chuck and Pre-Shandi co-host, Stacey Hayes were ever involved. He seems very touchy-feely with her on some of the episodes.

  5. Neither girl is JoAnn Pflug in the Fall Guy picture. The girl on the far right is Markie Post. She replaced Pflug's character on the show as the bail bondsman.


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