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|Born||Vanna Marie Rosich |
February 18, 1957 (1957-02-18)
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, United States
|Occupation||Game show co-host|
|Spouse(s)||George Santo Pietro 1991-2002|
 Early life
White was born Vanna Marie Rosich in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, the daughter of Joan Marie and Miguel Angel Rosich. Her family is of Croatian and Polish background. White took the name of her stepfather, Herbert Stackley White Jr., a former real estate agent in North Myrtle Beach. One of White's ancestors, whose last name was Barnes, was one of the first mayors of the city of Ponce, Puerto Rico. She is the niece of actor Christopher George.
White's first car, a gift from her father, was a metallic blue 1972 "Marathon Edition" Volkswagen Beetle. Vanna's father reportedly encouraged her to consider other makes and models of cars, but Vanna held firm. She desired the car due to the corporate initials of Volkswagen AG being the same as her own: VW. A picture of Vanna's Bug was featured in a summer 2007 episode of "Wheel Of Fortune," in which she revisited her childhood hometown.
 Television career
White's first national television appearance came on the June 20, 1980 episode of the seminal game show The Price Is Right, in which she was among the first four contestants to "come on down." She did not make it onstage, but the clip of her running to Contestants' Row would be rebroadcast as part of The Price Is Right 25th Anniversary Special in August 1996 and also would be featured on the special broadcast Game Show Moments Gone Bananas. Two years later, White auditioned to become the letter-turning assistant on Wheel of Fortune, a job that Susan Stafford recently had vacated. Producer Merv Griffin selected her over two other finalists, and her first episode as Pat Sajak's assistant presenter aired December 13, 1982. White remained with the daytime version of Wheel until its cancellation in 1991.
White's popularity soared after the primetime version of Wheel made its debut in September 1983. Within a year, Wheel was the highest-rated syndicated program on broadcast television, in large part because of "Vannamania". Her 1987 autobiography, Vanna Speaks!, was a best-seller. Also in 1987, she was featured in a Playboy pictorial, showing photos taken of her (prior to her career on Wheel of Fortune) wearing see-through lingerie.
White is the subject of "Weird Al" Yankovic's 1988 song, "Stuck in a Closet With Vanna White". In 1989, she appeared in the NBC television movie Goddess of Love, in which she played Venus. The film was panned universally by critics, with TV Guide joking that White's acting was "wheely" bad.
White also has made cameo appearances on television shows such as Married... with Children, The Super Mario Bros. Super Show!, 227 and Full House, movies such as Naked Gun 33⅓: The Final Insult, and served as guest timekeeper for WrestleMania IV. In 1992, the Guinness Book of World Records recognized White as "television's most frequent clapper." On April 20, 2006, she was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
White's name, well known due to the success of "Wheel," is mentioned in the rapper Nelly's hit song "Ride Wit Me" which reached #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. -- 'I'm gettin' pages out of New Jersey, from Courtney B. / Tellin' me about a party up in NYC / Can I make it? Damn right, I be on the next flight / Payin' cash; first class - sittin' next to Vanna White.
 Personal life
White dated Playgirl centerfold/Chippendales-dancer-turned-actor John Gibson in the 1980s, and they eventually became engaged. The relationship came to a tragic end in 1986 when Gibson was killed in a plane crash. White divorced her husband of 11 years, George Santo Pietro, in November 2002, maintaining custody of their two young children, Nicholas and Giovanna. From 2004 to 2006, she was engaged to businessman Michael Kaye, senior partner in a large leveraged buyout (LBO) fund based in southern California.
In 1993, White won a lawsuit against the Samsung Electronics corporation over its use of a humorous ad featuring a robot turning letters on a game show. The decision later was affirmed by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The issue was over the property right to publicity. The court ruled in favor of White's claim of a right to her property of publicity. The case has been criticized widely by property lawyers who cite the dissenting opinion of Judge Alex Kozinski after the denial of a rehearing en banc, which stated, among other things, that, "Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Creativity is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it's supposed to nurture".
 External links
- 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
|Preceded by |
|Hostess of Wheel of Fortune (daytime) |
December 13, 1982–September 20, 1991
|Succeeded by |
|Preceded by |
|Hostess of Wheel of Fortune (syndicated) |
September 19, 1983–present
|Succeeded by |