Gurney's Inn
October 24, 2007

Vanna White: 25 Years Turning Letters

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You'd think that after numerous years of turning letters on television's "Wheel of Fortune" when co-host Vanna White was documented forever in The Guinness Book of World Records it would have been for turning those letters. But, no. Vanna will be everlastingly recognized as holding the record as "The Most Frequent Clapper," an honor given the lady in 1992 – a title she'll probably always retain.

Celebrating her 25th year of co-hosting the number one show in syndicated history with amiable Pat Sajak, the lovely Vanna still remains totally unaffected by her fame, which very likely had all to do with the late Merv Griffin choosing her for the co-host position.

Consequently, when asked "why" she believes she attained the job over 200 young ladies who auditioned and was selected as the winner, during our recent chat, she said, "Merv said it was because I had a good rapport and chemistry with Pat."

You'll note she had nothing to say about her looks or her own style. No. Vanna is one of those rare, well-known personalities whose main focus is not of the "me, myself and I" category. She's a homebody type, so natural and pleasant that it easily comes across on the television screen, hence her popularity. Viewers quickly realize with Vanna, what you see is what you get!

I initially met Vanna years ago when she was meeting with the press to discuss her movie, Goddess of Love in which she portrayed Venus. She arrived slightly late because she had ripped her dress and was attempting to hide it by sewing it together and while she seemed uncomfortable, she laughingly explained it all. Her attitude and lack of conceit is in all probability the reason the press loves her; although love her or not, sadly, the movie and her acting was generally panned.

During a recent interview she and I discussed family and home. The more we talked the more I had the feeling I was having a discussion with an old friend, instead of this oh-so-well-liked figure, who by merely turning numbers became a media craze when "Vannamania" began.

Slim and trim after 25 years at the job, Vanna maintains her figure by exercising on her bike five times weekly and likes "riding with my kids, Nicholas and Giovanna; vacationing with them also. We like going to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina or Hawaii and the Caribbean and try to go during spring break."

How do you occupy your time when home? Do you cook? I asked.

"My home is very comfortable. It is definitely not a designer home. My couch is one of those overstuffed types that are made for comfort. It's a great place to relax. We have those big, fluffy pillows. I like to crochet when home, and whenever I can. It's my favorite pastime. "I'm not a great cook, although I do make chicken and dumplings if I'm having company. That I do well, but I'm no cook.

"When relaxing at home, we also watch movies. My favorite movie of all time is Imitation of Life and I see it often."

What about your gowns on the program. Have you ever designed one?

"I've worn over 5000 gowns and they all just seem to blend together. I've never designed one and don't think I've had a favorite."

Thinking about her own movie, I wondered why she hadn't tried again although the criticism probably hurt her and if that was the reason for not making another.

"No. I wanted to be a full time mother. With the show I'm home most of the time. I choose to stay home and put everything aside except being with my two children and helping with schoolwork and their ventures."

While extremely fortunate in her occupation and with her public persona, Vanna doesn't appear to have had a break privately with her love life. Her fiancée was killed in an airplane crash, then she married and a divorce followed. In 2004 she became engaged, a commitment that was eventually broken.

Vanna, nevertheless, still looks at the world and her life through "rose-colored glasses."

"Even though I've had problems and bad times, I've learned from my mistakes. I rarely get upset, don't have a temper and I'm easy-going, but we all have our moments. Mine may be considered silly by some, but, I get upset when I'm lost or stuck on a freeway or break a fingernail. I somehow or other manage to get through the big things.

"There are things that I dislike; with food it's lamb and with people it's mainly dishonesty."

You've been around for awhile. Have you ever thought about plastic surgery?

"No. I believe whoever has it done, it's their choice. I have a problem that most people haven't known about me. I have electrolysis treatment often. I don't know about plastic surgery. Most of us though do what we feel we have to do."

What if you knew you were dying and wanted a last meal? What would it be?

"That's easy. Mashed potatoes and banana pudding. If there's no pudding, I'll still take mashed potatoes. It's my favorite food."

Mashed potatoes! It's no wonder the lady is a people favorite. One doesn't become the darling of the traditional world with fancy potato entrees people cannot pronounce! No siree!

Check local listings for "Wheel of Fortune" day and time.

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