'Wheel of Fortune' Designer Ed Flesh Dies at 79

Art director Ed Flesh designed the iconic "Wheel of Fortune" set.

July 21, 2011, 5:35 PM

July 21, 2011— -- Ed Flesh, the art director who designed the iconic "Wheel of Fortune" set, died July 15 at the age of 79.

His publicist Fred Wostbrock told The New York Times that he died of congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Flesh designed game show and talk show sets, including "The $25,000 Pyramid," "Name That Tune," "Jeopardy!", "The Montel Williams Show," "Days of Our Lives" and many others, according to IMDB.com.

Today, his most memorable work lives on through the show "Wheel of Fortune," which has been the number one show in syndication since its debut in 1983, according to Sony Pictures.

Flesh reportedly spearheaded the design of the first blinking wheel, which was originally made out of cardboard, paint and light bulbs. Thousands of contestants would spin the carnival wheel and today, his design has evolved, made of steel and Plexiglas, weighing a little over 2,400 pounds, according to Sony Pictures.

Flesh changed the vertical, stand-up wheel that was difficult to see on screen to a horizontal, eye-catching spinner that would grip the nation for years to come, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"In the whole equation that made 'Wheel of Fortune' the enormous success across so many demographic lines that it is, Ed Flesh is an important part of that equation," said Robert Thompson, a professor of television and pop-culture at Syracuse University.

Over 90 million Americans have grown up watching or at least having heard of "Wheel of Fortune," according to Sony Pictures.

"Ed Flesh stands for the legions of artists out there who make stuff that is so much part of our daily life yet remain totally anonymous," said Thompson. "They remind us that it takes a village to make a game show."

Edwin Albert Flesh Jr. was born in Philadelphia on Dec. 4, 1931. He is survived by his partner, David Powers.

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