While most fans think of Pat Sajak and Vanna White as the pioneers of Wheel of Fortune, they actually weren’t the show’s original cohosts. Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford were initially chosen to front the program in its early days. Find out what happened to the game show’s first letter-turner.

What Happened to Susan Stafford?

Susan grew up competing in beauty pageants and later moved to Hollywood to kickstart her acting career. She served as the Wheel of Fortune cohost from 1975 to 1982. Vanna officially took over the role immediately following Susan’s departure from the show and has been there ever since. She marked her 40th anniversary of being on Wheel of Fortune in December 2022.

Why Did Susan Stafford Leave ‘Wheel of Fortune’?

Susan stepped away from Wheel of Fortune to focus on some of her other passions.

“I mean, for seven years I stood there and turned letters,” she told The Chicago Tribune in February 1987. ”I had to ask myself if that was any way for a grown woman to live her life.”

After leaving the program, the TV personality began working as a pastoral care educator and studied psychology. Susan left Wheel of Fortune with no regrets.

”I’ve never felt nostalgic,” she admitted. ”I’m surprised that they haven’t changed the format. Actually, when I’ve watched the show, I have felt a sort of relief. Relief that I don’t have to do that anymore.”

Where Is Susan Stafford Now?

Decades after her time on Wheel of Fortune came to an end, Susan has continued to dedicate her life to philanthropic work. The Hollywood Squares alum currently hosts a podcast called Out of the Box With Susan Stafford where she discusses an array of topics with celebrity guests and health professionals. 

What Happened to Wheel of Fortune's Susan Stafford?
Courtesy of YouTube/Susan Stafford

In 2010, Susan released a memoir full of revelations called Stop the Wheel, I Want to Get Off! 

“I was given a lot of attention as one of the highest-paid game show ladies; however, the recognition was only good for so long,” the Alive host wrote about her decision to leave Wheel of Fortune. “I learned to be all things to all people to such an extent that I pushed the ‘real me’ down. It’s like when a wastepaper basket is already full, and we keep stuffing the paper down instead of emptying and starting fresh. That’s a good example of what I was doing. I needed a fresh start.”