Vanna White next to the Wheel of Fortune board during a taping of Wheel of Fortune on February 8, 2006
|Born||Vanna Marie Rosich
February 18, 1957
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, U.S.
|Occupation||Game show co-host|
|Spouse(s)||George Santo Pietro (1990–2002)|
White was born Vanna Marie Rosich in Conway, South Carolina, the daughter of Joan Marie and Miguel Angel Rosich. Her father was Puerto Rican and Croatian. He abandoned the family and White took the name of her stepfather, Herbert Stackley White Jr., a former real estate agent in what is now North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
White's first appearance in a game show was on the June 20, 1980 episode of The Price Is Right, in which she was among the first four contestants. She did not make it onstage, but the clip of her running to Contestants' Row was rebroadcast as part of The Price Is Right 25th Anniversary Special in August 1996 and also was featured on the special broadcast Game Show Moments Gone Bananas. After Wheel of Fortune hostess Susan Stafford left in October 1982, White was chosen as one of three substitute hostesses (along with Vicki McCarty and Summer Bartholomew) to co-host the show. On December 13, 1982, White became the show's regular hostess.
White's popularity peaked after the syndicated version of Wheel of Fortune made its debut in September 1983. Her 1987 autobiography, Vanna Speaks!, was a best-seller. Also in 1987, she was featured in a Playboy pictorial, showing photos taken of her by her boyfriend (before her career on Wheel of Fortune) wearing see-through lingerie.
In 1988, she appeared in the NBC television film Goddess of Love, in which she played Venus; fellow game-show personality Betsy Palmer co-starred as Juno. The film was panned universally by critics, with TV Guide joking that White's acting was "wheely" bad. Film historian Leonard Maltin added that the picture was "...bottom-of-the-barrel yet, on its own terms, a must-see".
White also has made cameo appearances on television shows such as L.A. Law, 227, Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Simon and Simon, The King of Queens, and Full House; and in films such as Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult. She appeared in the supporting role of Doris in the low-budget B movie Graduation Day in 1981. She guest-starred on Married...With Children, in a gender-bending parody of the film Indecent Proposal; White had the Robert Redford role, while Al Bundy was in Demi Moore's. She served as guest timekeeper for WrestleMania IV. In 1992, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized White as "television's most frequent clapper". In 1996, she was the main narrator and singer in the CD release of Leslie Bricusse's "Santa's Last Ride". On April 20, 2006, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with Pat Sajak, Merv Griffin, and Alex Trebek as key witnesses.
White dated Playgirl centerfold/Chippendales-dancer-turned-actor John Gibson in the 1980s, and they eventually became engaged. However, in 1986 Gibson was killed in a plane crash. During White's absence to mourn his death, former hostess Susan Stafford appeared on Wheel of Fortune for a week of episodes.
White married restaurant owner George San Pietro in December 1990, and they divorced in November 2002. To accommodate her wedding, White was absent from Wheel of Fortune for two weeks of episodes that aired in January 1991; Tricia Gist substituted for her. White first became pregnant in September 1992, and announced her pregnancy on an episode of Wheel of Fortune where "Vanna's pregnant" was the answer to a puzzle. She miscarried, however, shortly after the episode's taping. White later had a son, Nicholas, born in 1994 and a daughter, Giovanna (Gigi), born in 1997, from her marriage to San Pietro. From 2004 to 2006, she was engaged to businessman Michael Kaye, senior partner in a large leveraged buyout fund based in southern California.
White is a crochet and knitting enthusiast and has a line of yarns called "Vanna's Choice" through Lion Brand Yarns.
White sued the Samsung Electronics corporation over its use of a humorous ad featuring a robot turning letters on a game show, alleging a violation of her personality rights. The lower court decision in Samsung's favor was reversed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and the Ninth Circuit denied a rehearing over a colorful dissent by Judge Kozinski. The U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari. White ultimately was awarded $403,000 in damages.
In popular culture
- Hip-hop artist Nelly references sitting next to White in the first class cabin on a flight to New York City in his 2001 song "Ride wit Me".
- Parody king "Weird Al" Yankovic penned an original song, "Stuck in a Closet with Vanna White" featured on his hit album Even Worse.
- In 1987, disc jockey David Kolin, credited as Dr. Dave, released a 12-inch single of a parody called "Vanna, Pick Me a Letter" to the song The Letter by The Box Tops.
- The Nintendo 64 video game Paper Mario features a minor character named "Vanna T" (originally "Kinopiko" in the Japanese release), who was likely named after White. She appears as the hostess for Chuck Quizmo's Quiz.
- Vanna White biography at wheeloffortune.com
- Almanac of Famous People, Gale Publishing, June 8, 2011.
- Hernandez, Lee (March 22, 2011). "Say What?! 15 MORE Stars You Never Knew Were Latino!". latina.com. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
- "About New York", The New York Times, May 23, 1987.
- "Stargazing". The Kansas City Star. March 11, 1991. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
- "Vanna Has Miscarriage". The Seattle Times. 18 September 1992. Retrieved 5 June 2014.
- "N-i-c-h-o-l-a-s Makes Vanna White A Mommy". Orlando Sentinel. June 15, 1994. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- "Baby Will Need 4 Vowels To Spell Name". Orlando Sentinel. July 11, 1997. Retrieved February 9, 2011.
- Vanna's Choice® Yarn : Product Information : Lion Brand Yarn
- White v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc., 971 F.2d 1395 (1992).
- White v. Samsung Electronics America, Inc. 989 F.2d 1512 (9th Cir. 1993)
- Samsung Electronics America, Inc. v. White, 508 U.S. 951 (1993).
- Goldstein, Patrick (March 15, 1987). "Pop Eye".
|Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Vanna White at the Internet Movie Database
- Vanna White's biography on wheeloffortune.com
- Judge Alex Kozinski's dissent in the White v. Samsung Electronics appeal
- Vanna White interview video at the Archive of American Television
|Wheel of Fortune Hostess