Raymond Taylor, Best Wheel of Fortune Contestant Ever

So the story goes that while on the road in Chicago, the Wheel of Fortune game show had a contestant drop out at the last minute.  The producers found some guy named Raymond Taylor on the street, gave him a suit, and propped him on the stage.  I have no idea if this is true or urban legend, but legend is the operative word when describing Raymond Taylor’s exploits on Wheel of Fortune.  Raymond was a skinny Chuck Berry clone who could never look anyone in the eye, and was constantly fidgeting around the set.  He was also TV gold.  He was genuinely witty and cutting in all his remarks and timing, and he was a stunningly adept “Wheel” player.  Many people assume, with racist underpinnings, that Raymond was a crack addicted clown.  I’m not going to go that far.  Television has a way of either making people conform with fear, or bringing out their inner star.  I think this was the case of the latter.  Raymond ended up winning over 80k in cash and prizes, and actually began to stalk the Wheel of Fortune studios looking for a job.  The studio ended up putting a restraining order against him.  It’s a bizarre end to a hilarious and peculiar story, but check Raymond out yourself in his best moments on his unreal Wheel of Fortune run.

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13 Responses to “Raymond Taylor, Best Wheel of Fortune Contestant Ever”

  1. VM says:

    It seems pretty clear that Raymond has autism spectrum disorder – and while the social skills were lacking – such as his eye contact – impulse control – lack of taking cues from those around him or the situation, he clearly had a gift for “seeing” words. His later obsession with the show and wanting to be a part of it would be a common aspect of autism/aspergers. He would not have understood why that was a “problem.” I’ve read that he has since passed away (but don’t know if that is a fact) – but you can see the unique gentle soul he was in this video. He probably could have trounced most of us with his word puzzle solving.

    • Willie says:

      Lovely comment, I’ve read a lot about savants, especially the great Daniel Tamment. Thanks for contributing!

    • Teri Smith says:

      When a friend posted the WoF clip with the crack head term I thought it was going to be some messed up thing. Instead I saw something that broke my heart. I have an uncle who is mentally handicapped and was called names but is a sweet guy who just wants to help. Although Im not an MD I have been around several level of folks with Autism and I think you nailed it. My friend’s daughter was also just diagnosed with ASD. I hope he’s happy where ever he is and not being laughed at. Thanks for your post.

    • SC says:

      When I saw this, I immediately thought “autism spectrum”. My son has autism, and has a friend who acts in a way very similar to this…very bright, but no eye contact, very uncoordinated, unaware of how to act socially, grabbing Vanna and hugging her too hard…I have seen all of those. It makes me sad that people in this day and age so misunderstand autism. Not surprising for when this was filmed (mid 1990’s), but it stuns me that with the prevalence of autism now and the education of the general public, this man is so misunderstood. I hope he did not get made fun of his whole life…I’m sure he did. I wish I could find him and help him…

    • Adeara Bianchi says:

      Thanks for explaining this, it was really helpful.

  2. AskRonReed says:

    I saw the footage and I would also like to think he had some sort of neurological impairment. Can anyone find out more about this guy. It would make for an intersting movie line.

  3. ted says:

    nope, thats just a guy on crack

  4. Pook Pook says:

    I fell in love with this guy. I pray that its not true that he passed away.

  5. kaly arsin says:

    i was just roaming around youtube videos and came across this. i am someone who really gets attached to small things like this it interest me. but i think Raymond did have some type of medical condition. No i do not think he was a crack head or on drugs, its evident that he wasnt. he was able to understand the concept and went as far as two bonus rounds. Raymond was an interesting man, and I plan on finding out more information about him.

  6. Christin says:

    Thanks for the article; Raymond was by far the best Wheel contestant ever. I wondered if anyone else remembered him, & I don’t even know what made me think of it all these years later. Remember the ‘Walk’ puzzle? I don’t know who the hell could have possibly guessed that. Or, ‘Vanna, put those L’s up there!’. There were also a few times where he’d land on a high amount on the wheel & pretend to fall over. It was so hilarious. But I liked how he was just another contestant at first, but by the second night, the audience was like, ‘yeah Raymond’ when it’d be his turn.

  7. Brian says:

    I work at the VOA (Volunteers of America) in LA. Raymond is not dead. He has been homeless for about 10 years and has received section 8 housing within the past year and a half. He still comes into the shelter for lunch and dinner a few days a week. He is autistic.

  8. Chris says:

    Brian,
    If what you say is true, you would have signed a confidentiality agreement, meaning that to disclose information on homeless people or any of your clients could lead to you being fired, or even sued. I hope you are lying, since if you are telling the truth, it would mean that you aren’t a very good human being, and should not be working in your position.

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