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Vanna White is the longtime co-host of the popular game show Wheel of Fortune.
Merv Griffin - Full Biography (43:50)
Drew Carey - Full Episode (45:21)
Vanna White's unique style on "Wheel of Fortune" made her into a 1980s cultural icon.
Merv Griffin, America's ultimate showman, knew what audiences wanted and made it his life's work to entertain with his talk show and his game shows "Wheel of Fortune," and "Jeopardy."
Drew Carey was expelled from college at Kent State and served 8 years in the marines. He landed his own sitcom, "The Drew Carey Show," and now hosts "The Price is Right."
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Vanna White, born on February 18, 1957, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, worked as a professional model before joining the game show Wheel of Fortune in 1982 as co-host. She's responsible for uncovering the letters on the show's large puzzle board and modeling an ever-changing line of designs. White is the mother of two and, as an avid crocheter, has her own yarn line called Vanna's Choice.
"It's not the most intellectual job in the world, but I do have to know the letters."
"When I was having that alphabet soup, I never thought that it would pay off."
"I think people think of me as this elegant person because they always see me dressed up."
Television game show hostess and actress Vanna White was born Vanna Marie Rosich on February 18, 1957, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her parents divorced when Vanna was an infant, and she was raised by her mother, Joan, and stepfather, Herbert White Jr., in North Myrtle Beach.
After graduating from high school, White moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where she attended the Atlanta School of Fashion and worked as a model. She headed to Los Angeles in 1979 to pursue an acting career, but in the summer of 1980, she returned briefly to South Carolina to see her mother, who was dying of ovarian cancer.
White returned to Hollywood with renewed resolve and earned a series of minor acting jobs in largely forgettable films, including the role of Mickey in Gypsy Angels (1980); a bit part in Looker (1981), starring alongside Albert Finney; and the small role of Doris in the high school thriller Graduation Day (1981). She also appeared in one episode of the TV series Star of the Family in 1982.
Later in 1982, however, White got the job that would make her career. She was chosen out of 200 applicants to join new host and former weatherman, Pat Sajak, on the NBC game show, Wheel of Fortune, created by entertainment giant Merv Griffin. The show met with tremendous success over the next several years, and by 1986 a syndicated evening version attracted 30 million viewers, twice as many as the No. 2 syndicated program, M*A*S*H, and grossed $100 million a year. In 1999, its 16th year in syndication, Wheel of Fortune was seen by approximately 40 million people.
White's position as hostess and chief letter-turner and model of an ever-changing line of designs on Wheel of Fortune quickly made her a huge star. Suddenly, "Vannamania" was sweeping the nation, and White soon earned a number of lucrative endorsement contracts and even starred in the NBC movie Venus: The Goddess of Love. While more skeptical media observers mocked White for her limited acting ability and her position on Wheel as a non-speaking clotheshorse, the majority of viewers developed a liking to her, due in no small part to her beauty, energy and constant charisma, and White became somewhat of an iconic figure in American pop culture. Her popularity peaked during the mid- to late 1980s.
In 1992, White was recognized in The Guinness Book of World Records as TV's most frequent clapper, with an average of 720 claps per show and over 28,000 per season. A ghostwritten autobiography of the game show star, entitled Vanna Speaks, was published in 1987.
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