Who Is Longtime ‘Wheel of Fortune’ Co-Host Vanna White? Everything To Know About The Icon
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If you’ve tuned into the popular game show Wheel of Fortune at any point since 1982, you’re likely familiar with the charming co-host, Vanna White. With the recent news of Pat Sajak leaving the show after the ongoing Season 41 and Ryan Seacrest taking over in 2024, many viewers, both new and old, might be curious to know more about White.
Who is Vanna White?
White is most famous as the co-host of the iconic game shows Wheel of Fortune and Celebrity Wheel of Fortune. However, her journey to becoming a beloved TV personality began long before she started turning letters on the show’s famous puzzle board.
Born as Vanna Marie Rosich on February 18, 1957, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she had a challenging childhood, marked by her parents’ divorce when she was just an infant. Raised by her mother, Joan, and her stepfather, Herbert White Jr., in North Myrtle Beach, she faced her fair share of hardships.
After graduating from high school, White ventured to Atlanta, where she attended the Atlanta School of Fashion and began her career as a model. In 1979, she took a leap of faith and moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Unfortunately, in 1980, she briefly put her dreams on hold as she returned to South Carolina to be with her mother, who battled ovarian cancer.
Determined to make it in Hollywood, White returned with renewed dedication and began landing minor acting roles in various films and television shows. These included roles in movies like Gypsy Angels (1980), Looker (1981), and Graduation Day (1981), as well as an appearance on the TV series Star of the Family in 1982.
How Vanna White Got Her Start on Wheel of Fortune
In 1982, White’s life took a dramatic turn when she was selected out of 200 applicants to join new host Sajak on the NBC game show Wheel of Fortune. The show, created by entertainment legend Merv Griffin, quickly became a massive success. By 1986, the syndicated evening version of Wheel of Fortune was drawing a whopping 30 million viewers, making it the top syndicated program, grossing a staggering $100 million annually.
White’s role as the co-host and chief letter-turner, in addition to modeling a continuously changing line of outfits on the show, propelled her to stardom. Her charisma, energy, and, of course, her beauty endeared her to the audience. During the mid to late 1980s, she experienced a wave of popularity, often referred to as “Vannamania.” In fact, in 1992, The Guinness Book of World Records recognized her as TV’s most frequent clapper, with an average of 720 claps per show and over 28,000 per season.
White showcasedd her dedication to the show when she hosted Wheel of Fortune by herself in late 2019 while Sajak was hospitalized for emergency surgery. She will continue with the show when Seacrest takes over hosting duties from Sajak in the fall of 2024.