Charles John "Charlie" O'Donnell (born August 12, 1932, in Philadelphia, PA; died November 1, 2010, in Sherman Oaks, CA) was an American broadcaster and announcer for both television and radio. He has done many works of announcing on other game shows, but most notably, he was familiarized for announcing Wheel of Fortune from 1975 to 1980. Following Jack Clark's death in 1988, he returned to that position and remained until his death in 2010. Prior to his game show announcing career, he was a radio host, disc jockey and a news anchorman. Also, he announced for the Emmy and Academy awards.
Other than Wheel, he was also the primary announcer, at one point, for Barry & Enright Productions and Chuck Barris Productions, taking those roles from Jay Stewart and Bob Hilton respectively. He also did announcing for other game shows such as Merv Griffin's Monopoly and Bob Stewart's The $100,000 Pyramid (as well as its daytime counterpart, The $25,000 Pyramid). Charlie passed away in his sleep due to heart failure in 2010. In 2011, Jim Thornton was confirmed as Charlie's permanent successor at the start of the 29th season of Wheel in syndication. Wheel did a tribute to him, which aired November 5, 2010.
One of his first national television roles was as Dick Clark's partner and sidekick on American Bandstand; a photo of a younger Charlie next to Clark was included in the tribute. Charlie would work alongside Dick Clark again in the 1980s incarnations of Pyramid.
He often subbed for Ernie Anderson in a few episodes of the first season of America's Funniest Home Videos.
On November 1, 2010, O'Donnell died overnight in his sleep at his home due to heart failure in Sherman Oaks, California. He is survived by his wife, Ellen; four children Dennis, Patricia, Michael, Bridgid; and two granddaughters, Maddie and Caroline. After his death, the show began rotating announcing duties among several guests (including Jeopardy! announcer Johnny Gilbert). Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak described O'Donnell as "the perfect voice for the show". O'Donnell's last announced episode aired on October 29, 2010, three days prior to his death. O'Donnell was succeeded by veteran LA radio announcer Jim Thornton. The "Call a Clambulance" (spoof of the term "Call an Ambulance") episode of the preschool show Bubble Guppies was dedicated to his memory.
The Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia posthumously inducted O'Donnell into their Hall of Fame in 2011.
- Wheel of Fortune
- All Star Secrets
- Tic Tac Dough
- Let's Go Back
- Banko (1985 pilot)
- Twenty One (1982 pilot)
- Jeopardy! (1977 pilot)
- Burt Luddin's Love Buffet
- The $100,000 Pyramid
- The $25,000 Pyramid (sub for Jack Clark)
- Hot Potato
- The Joker's Wild
- Trivia Trap
- The Guinness Game
- The Newlywed Game
- The Dating Game
- The Parent Game (1972 premiere pilot)
- The Gong Show
- Don Adams' Screen Test (1975 pilot)
- All-Star Charades (Pilot)
- What Are My True Colors? (Broadcast Pilot)
- Press Your Luck (sub for Rod Roddy)
- Card Sharks (sub for Gene Wood on the NBC and CBS versions)
- To Tell the Truth (sub for Burton Richardson on the 1990-91 version)
- Wedding Party
- The Wizard of Odds
- America's Funniest Home Videos (subbed for Ernie Anderson in the first season)
- Decades (pilot)
- Everybody's Talking!
- The Cheap Show
Commemoration on the death of Charlie O'Donnell
Pat: As most of you probably know by now, our dear friend and colleague, the voice of Wheel of Fortune, Charlie O'Donnell, passed away early this week. Charlie was not only a vital part of the success of this show; he was...he was a broadcasting legend. From his days with Dick Clark on American Bandstand through his work on dozens of shows, including the Academy Awards and more than 25 years with Wheel, Charlie was always prepared and dedicated. We're gonna miss his booming voice, but more than that, we're gonna miss a kind and cheerful and caring friend. We've all been blessed to have known him.
Vanna: We love you, Charlie.
Pat: We'll miss ya, pal.
- Pat Sajak & Vanna White (2010)