Thursday, November 11, 2010

Charlie O'Donnell 1932 - 2010

One of the game show world's most legendary announcers has died at age 78. If you have no idea who I'm talking about...let's just say you know his voice. If you need another hint: "It's AMERICA'S GAME..."

That's right. Charlie was the announcer on Wheel Of Fortune. He wasn't the only one - at various points Jack Clark and M.G. Kelly have held the position - but I didn't know that until years later. Charlie's been doing this job for as long as I've known what Wheel Of Fortune was. I remember hearing Pat Sajak talk to "Charlie" at a very young age and having no idea who, if anyone, Charlie was.

It turned out he was quite an accomplished personality. If we stay focused on game shows, Charlie announced more than I can possibly name; if we branch out, he began his career on American Bandstand with Dick Clark and has been everything from a DJ to a local news anchor. If you can announce live events ranging from the Beatles to Pope John Paul II, you know you've got talent.
The field of game show announcer is a dying one. The sad fact is, while countless people associate game shows with phrases like "what do we have for him Johnny?" most game shows today don't have an announcer or any need for one. Thankfully, Wheel Of Fortune doesn't seem to be abandoning the idea just yet; on-air tryouts for the job are being given to both Jeopardy announcer Johnny Gilbert (what a surprise) and former The Price Is Right announcer Rich Fields (cue screams of joy from the hardcore The Price Is Right fans). I certainly hope we don't end up with an out of work comedian.

I'll have my review of the Game Show Network version of 1 vs. 100 next week.

Rest in peace Charlie,


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