The Whammy is a fictional character from the 1980s game show Press Your Luck and its 2002 GSN remake Whammy!: The All-New Press Your Luck that would usually steal cash and prizes from unlucky contestants after landing on the self-proclaimed Whammy square. Contestants who hit four Whammies will be eliminated for the rest of the game. Contestants who would hit a Double Whammy in round 3 of Whammy! not only lose their money and prizes, but said Whammy does real things to you. If you hit a Whammy while taking the spins passed by somebody else (but did not hit a fourth Whammy), those spins end up in your earned column.
When a player lands on a Whammy, a foghorn-like sound will play on Press Your Luck (during the pilot, a “BOING!” sounded when a contestant landed on a Whammy); a timpani boom would be heard on Whammy!, with a more ominous downward note when hitting a Double Whammy. An animation will play in front of the contestant. In the pilot, there was only one where the Whammy came in laughing and jumping, using his hammer to wipe out the contestant's money. After the animation, a Whammy marker will pop up in front of the player with a "BOING!" sound (during the Whammy! pilot, it instead had light up indicators on the side of their scoreboard rather than the Whammy marker popping up).
Early in the 1980s series, especially in 1983, due to the limited number of Whammy animations used during that period, some Whammy animations were shown more than once on a single episode. At least one episode in 1983 had a certain Whammy animation shown three times! Duplication of Whammy animation appearances became less prevalent sometime in 1984 due to the broader variety of animations.
A former staffer who worked on series from 1983 to 1986 did mention that when contestants hit a Whammy with zero dollars, or a very low total, a quick Whammy animation would be played, whereas a larger amount being lost would mean a longer Whammy animation. There is also speculation that quicker Whammy animations may have been used despite a large amount being lost because of a prolonged round due to a lot of spins being used; and longer Whammy animations may have been shown regardless of the total if the total number of spins earned for a round was quite low - this may have been done as a time-filler.
According to a now defunct PYL fan-page, the animator (Savage Steve Holland) did the animations on a laser pen. He was paid $10 for each frame.
During the 1980s series, on some occasions, a Whammy animation would be played as a "callback" to a question about a specific person or thing asked in the most recent question round (i.e. the Bicycle Whammy being played in response to a question about bicycles; the Ben Franklin Whammy being played in response to a question about Benjamin Franklin; and the Beatles Whammy in response to a question about The Beatles or the Volkswagen Beetle) - this was most likely intentional on the show's part.
During most of the 1980s series, the Whammy was known for having a high-pitched voice, but by June 1986, the final set of new Whammy animations that were launched had the Whammy speaking in a lower-pitched voice. Some speculated that the lower-pitched voice may be due to the Whammy's voice actor, Bill Carruthers, getting up there in age (he was 55 years old at that time). The same lower-pitched voice was heard in the Whammy board meeting skit seen after some episodes in Republic Pictures' syndication package of 1985 episodes in the late-1980s.
Animations In Press Your LuckEdit
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- Corey Burton (1983, pilot)
- Bill Carruthers (1983-1986)
- Brad Garrett (2002-2003)
- Frank Welker (2019-presents)