Lin Bolen

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Lin Bolen
Born (1941-03-21) March 21, 1941 (age 76)
Benton, Illinois, U.S.
Occupation Vice President of Daytime Programming, NBC (1972-1978)
television producer
Years active 1972-present
Spouse(s) Paul Wendkos (1983-2009)

Lin Bolen (born March 21, 1941 in Benton, Illinois) is an American television executive and producer. Bolen is most noted for her role as the NBC daytime television programming Vice President,[1] a position she held from 1972 until 1978. In this role, Bolen was responsible for commissioning the long-running game show Wheel of Fortune and is credited with bringing successful long form to network soap operas. Bolen is mentioned in Who's Who in America as a trailblazer for Women in Television.


Bolen was appointed Vice President of Daytime Programming at NBC in 1972.[2][3] In September 1975, she was the first female Vice President of Programming at a TV network and took NBC to #1 in the national Nielsen ratings[4][5] She developed an expanded format for Days of Our Lives and Another World, changing both to an hour-long running time. The expanded shows attracted new viewers and became hits with young women[6]

Although NBC was airing the successful game shows Hollywood Squares, Concentration, and Jeopardy! at the time, Bolen's mandate was to increase ratings of young women ages 18–34. Daytime and late-night were seen as NBC's profit center at that time, and advertisers wanted programs that attracted young women. In late 1972, Bolen ended Concentration's fifteen-year run and replaced it with the Heatter-Quigley Productions game show Baffle. Baffle failed to compete with CBS's new game show, The $10,000 Pyramid, and was canceled on March 29, 1974.

Bolen also decided to end the eleven-year run of Jeopardy!, feeling that its demographics were old. The show's creator and producer Merv Griffin did not wish to change the show's format, so Bolen commissioned a new game show from Griffin called Wheel of Fortune. Two pilots were produced before the network was satisfied that young women would love the show. Wheel of Fortune debuted on January 6, 1975, and was an immediate ratings hit.

In the spring of 1976, while NBC was still the #1 network in daytime, Bolen left the network and formed her own Production Company, "Lin Bolen Productions, Inc." The new company created and developed game shows, movies of the week, and theatrical films for networks and studios.

Bolen created the game show Stumpers! hosted by Allen Ludden, which was produced exclusively by Bolen's production company. The show was a word game with game elements similar to Password, which had also been hosted by Ludden. The show lasted 13 weeks before being canceled by new NBC president Fred Silverman.

One series Bolen's company produced for NBC was loosely based on her own career, taking a serious look at the men who ran network television. W.E.B. was scheduled against ABC's hit series Charlie's Angels and did not perform well. It was canceled after 13 weeks.

Bolen's company produced the television movie The Christmas Coal Mine Miracle, starring Kurt Russell and Melissa Gilbert, which became the highest rated movie of the year for NBC. Other films followed, including Good Against Evil starring Kim Catrall and Dan O'Herlihy for ABC; Golden Gate starring Perry King, Melanie Griffith, and John Saxon; A two-hour pilot for ABC called "Farrell For The People" starring Valerie Harper and Ed O'Neill; a comedy pilot for NBC called The Ann Jillian Show, and an NBC summer variety pilot called Live From the South Seas starring John Rowles.


Lin Bolen's career as a network executive provided an inspiration in the creation of Faye Dunaway's role as network executive Diana Christiansen in the 1976 satirical film about television, Network.[7] However, in an interview with UPI in 1978, Bolen had said that the Network character was nothing like her.[8]

Personal life[edit]

After leaving NBC, Bolen married director Paul Wendkos. They remained married until his death on November 12, 2009.


  1. ^ Lowe, Denise (December 1999). Women and American television: an encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-87436-970-0. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  2. ^ LA Times 22 September 1972 CECIL SMITH
  4. ^ Variety 22 September 1975 "NBC TAKES DAYTIME LEAD"
  6. ^ NYTIMES 21 December 1975 JOHN J. O'CONNOR
  7. ^ Google Books: "Looking for Gatsby" By Faye Dunaway and Betsy Sharkey, p.304.
  8. ^ UPI, via Milwaukee Sentinel and Google News, "Producer Lin Bolen Denies She's 'Network' Character", July 31, 1978.

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