Wheel of Fortune History Wiki

Nancy on October 22, 1982...

Nancy Jones was a Wheel of Fortune staff member who was present from the 1974 pilots as an assistant to producer John Rhinehart. When the show debuted, she was promoted to co-producer until Rhinehart left on April 29, 1976, at which point she became the sole producer until June 1995.

One particularly strange note about Nancy's tenure was the appearance of a contestant named Nancy Jones in the late 1980s. According to said contestant (who also appeared on Let's Make A Deal, The Price Is Right, High Rollers, and Match Game '74), having the same name as the producer nearly kept her from playing on the show.

From her promotion in 1976 through January 4, 1990, she was listed first on full credit rolls. On January 10, her credit was moved down slightly to fit Merv Griffin's executive-producer one.


April 12, 1984...

In October 1986...

In October 1988...

Jones' first known appearance may be on November 6, 1980, where a female voice is briefly heard reminding Chuck Woolery to mention the audience member that special guest Tom Kennedy was playing for.

According to personal recollections, Nancy was first heard during Pat Sajak's debut week in December 1981 after he told a player to spin again after buying an incorrect vowel. Her first known on-camera appearance, and the earliest confirmed, was on October 22, 1982 (Susan Stafford's last show) when she presented Susan with a bouquet of flowers during the final segment.

During her tenure, Jones appeared in several behind-the-scenes reports on Wheel along with a game show episode of Woman to Woman (April 12, 1984) and the 1989 documentary American Beauty Ltd. One behind-the-scenes report for the nighttime show (on November 28, 1986 by 20/20) included Nancy mentioning that she tried Vanna White's job for a day and found it difficult, while one the previous month for KSDK about the daytime show included her describing the basic format of the 1973 Shopper's Bazaar pilot:

"Our three contestants sat on a couch, and there was a coffee table in front of them and there was an upright Wheel, and then the phone would ring on the coffee table and give them clues, and then they would kind of get up from the couch and walk around this very luxurious store and pick their merchandise (laughs)...so it's changed a lot."

While this would suggest Nancy was present for Bazaar, she was not listed in the credits.


"If she really feels that way!"

Nancy was also the offstage judge from at least the beginning of Season 7, being consulted by Pat from time to time. This included the nebulous "judging" of Megaword sentences, which led to an incident on March 1, 1995 where she accepted a contestant's sentence for BOMBASTIC ("Being on Wheel of Fortune is a bombastic experience.") with the above quote. It is also her last known appearance.


Jones was dismissed in early June 1995, as it was felt that Wheel was becoming tired and dated under her watch and Sony wished to take the show in a different direction. Harry Friedman replaced her on the 14th, having been contacted for the job by old friend Alan Levine, then-CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

It is known that the switch took place just before the last Season 12 tapings, as Harry is mentioned and shown on-camera at the end of the June 22 show (the next-to-last episode of that season).

Other Work

...and in late 2004.

Nancy was married to comedian Joe Piscopo from 1973-88, having one child (Joey) in 1979 and being executive producer of Joe's 1984 TV movie The Joe Piscopo Special. Following Wheel, she worked on the 1990s version of Pictionary (hosted by Alan Thicke).

During her career, Jones was nominated for 13 Daytime Emmys (all Outstanding Game/Audience Participation Show): 1982 and 1984-89 for daytime Wheel, 1990-91 and 1993-95 for the nighttime show, and 1998 for Pictionary.

Nancy was among the many Wheel alumni who contributed to the show's E! True Hollywood Story in 2005.