Mark Corwin, the Emmy-winning director of Wheel of Fortune who helmed more that 2,000 episodes of the game show since 1999, died Thursday of cancer in Los Angeles. He was 65.
The L.A. native worked as associate director on Sony Pictures Television’s syndicated Wheel before taking over the top duties when Dick Carson, the younger brother of Johnny Carson, retired. The show, created by Merv Griffin and hosted by Pat Sajak, debuted in 1975 and has had only three regular directors.
“The game constantly changes. You never know what’s about to happen — it takes total concentration,” Corwin told DGA Quarterly magazine in 2006. “I’ve never known a director who isn’t thinking five steps ahead.”
Corwin, whose father worked at NBC, began his career as a stage manager, then worked his way up to AD on Hollywood Squares and other NBC game shows. His credits include Password Plus, The New High Rollers, Card Sharks and Jeopardy!
“Mark made directing Wheel of Fortune look easy, and it’s no simple task,” said executive producer Harry Friedman. “He loved this show and understood that the viewers have a special bond with Wheel, which he never took for granted.”
The show announced Corwin’s death from Las Vegas, where it is on location taping 30 episodes. No permanent director to succeed Corwin has been selected.
Corwin’s survivors include his wife, Robin — he met her when she sat next to him in the edit bay as a production assistant at Wheel — and children, Chloe and Michael.