For the last four decades, America has been blessed with Vanna White as a presence on Wheel of Fortune – the beloved game show where players spin a wheel to pocket rewards for solving word puzzles. Contestants guess letters one at a time and must avoid wicked outcomes like Bankrupt or Lose A Turn. During each episode, Vanna serves up gorgeous visuals as she gracefully flips over guessed letters (which recently transitioned from manual to digital).
The legendary Pat Sajak and the iconic white stars of Wheel Of Fortune have amazingly been a part of this beloved show for forty years. America’s Game first began airing in 1982, entertaining viewers with its renowned puzzles and games and has remained one of the nation’s most popular shows to date.
Before joining the Wheel of Fortune team in 1982, Vanna White was already a prominent figure with her Miss Georgia 1978 pageant participation. Born as Vanna Marie Angel on February 18th 1957, she came to life in Conway – South Carolina – not too far from Myrtle Beach. Her journey has been an inspiring one ever since!
After completing her high school education, Vanna ventured to the prestigious Atlanta School of Fashion in Atlanta, Georgia. After graduating there she decided it was time for a change and moved to Hollywood with aspirations of becoming an actress. Her career began with minor parts in films such as Gypsy Angels, Graduation Day, Looker, and Star of the Family during the early eighties.
In 1982, Vanna White stood out from the crowd of 200 contestants aiming for a spot as hostess on NBC’s Wheel of Fortune. Her performance dazzled the selectors and shortly after, she was chosen to co-host with Pat Sajak — now both are Game Show Hall of Famers!
Boasting accolades from her time on Wheel, Vanna White also earned a role in the movie Venus: The Goddess of Love by NBC. An iconic figure for Weird Al Yankovic himself, she was even mentioned in his hit song “Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White” which was released as part of his 1988 album Even Worse. Additionally, the notable video game platform Nintendo 64 featured her character – named Vanna T.- as a minor player in Paper Mario.
Yet, a wave of surprise washed over Wheel of Fortune viewers when they saw Vanna White grace the cover of Playboy magazine in 1987. After all, she was known as such a wholesome celebrity that people couldn’t believe she’d be willing to disrobe for the camera.
In order to make her living expenses and pay her rent, she was forced to take the job for a photoshoot.
At sixty years old, she told to Fox News, “When I first moved to Hollywood, I was too embarrassed to ask my dad for rent money. I was young and I wanted to do it on my own. So, I did these lingerie shots and from the moment I said I would do them, I thought, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m not going to ask my dad for money, so I’m just going to do it!’”
When she graced the cover of Playboy, Vanna shared with Johnny Carson, “I’m so sorry . . . I made a mistake, I’m sorry and I just hope I don’t lose my job over it.”
Vanna took Playboy to court for $5.2 million as they had damaged her ‘family audience’ status and thankfully, Wheel of Fortune kept the faith in her.