Vanna Men: A Brief History of Male Models on Game Shows

We rejoiced when Boston model/actor Rob Wilson was announced as the The Price is Right‘s first male model. Hooray for bare chests adorned with price-tag stickers! Wilson will begin straddling jetskis and wielding Plinko chips for a one-week stint beginning October 15, and hopefully he’ll do well enough that men become a permanent addition to the modeling staff. In the meantime, we have a few decades of game show brawn to remember:

$ale of the Century’s beaming hunks Gregorio Gaviati and David Gibbs want to strike a deal with you.

$ale of the Century: It’s the thinking man’s Let’s Make a Deal! When contestants correctly answered enough questions on this Jim Perry-hosted jam, they became eligible to win prizes for giving up points. If you’re shocked to find this 1980s U.S. game show featured male models, consider that $ale of the Century‘s main gimmick is tempting contestants into buying personal luxury gifts, and sometimes those gifts would include Botany 500 suits or men’s watches. Female models couldn’t exactly show those off in their finest light, so hunks Gregorio Gaviati and David Gibbs pimped the more macho prizes.

Wheel of Fortune
dared to let this bespectacled actor turn letters. 

Before Pat Sajak and Vanna White took over Wheel of Fortune, Chuck Woolery and Susan Stafford (authoress of the esteemed memoir Stop the Wheel, I Want to Get Off! — not kidding!) helmed the puzzle board and uncovered consonants and vowels for giddy contestants. When an injured Stafford took a day off in September 1977, Laugh-In alum Arte Johnson — then promoting his short-lived game show Knockout — filled in at the puzzle board. This is utterly rare in the Wheel franchise; the only other two men who ever turned letters were Sajak in a one-off stint and the late announcer Charlie O’Donnell. Now I want Ruth Buzzi to turn letters by fwacking them with her purse.

Caesar’s Challenge
‘s gift to you is “self-proclaimed male bimbo” Dan Doherty

The word jumble game Caesar’s Challenge (’93-’94) featured host Ahmad Rashad and a musclebound lever-puller named Dan Doherty dressed in gladiator regalia. Sometimes Doherty would chip in with self-deprecating humor, but his main purpose was to be revered for his skimpy tunic and soap star grin. I congratulate all of Caesar’s Challenge‘s gay contestants for staying focused on the game and not just staring at the 6’6 hunk by the puzzle board.

Time Machine
had a hot host and hotter models. 

The short-lived ’85 game show Time Machine rewarded contestants for identifying world events and pop culture phenonema by the years in which they occurred, but the show rewarded viewers by offering up debonair male models who opened car doors and shirtlessly lounged on boats. Host John Davidson was comely too, albeit as vanilla and parent-approved as a Carpenters box set.


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