‘Wheel of Fortune’: Vanna White Getting Her Appendix Removed Prompted Inspiration to Be on TV

by Halle Ames

Wheel of Fortune co-host Vanna White once opened up about how a surgery to get her appendix out led her to want to be on TV.

A turn of events that we would never think go together, but to each their own.

Vanna White Early Life

Growing up, Vanna White wasn’t any Gerber baby poster child or anything special. She was just Vanna from a small town in South Carolina.

In a 2018 interview between Vanna White and Believer Magazine, the Wheel of Fortune star talks about her family growing up.

“I grew up in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. At the time, population five thousand. So I’m from a small town which is not that small anymore. But I had a normal childhood. You know, I rode my bike in the neighborhood. We didn’t lock our front doors at the time. It was a very simple life. My dad worked in the post office for thirty years. My mom was an accountant. And I have a younger brother, three years younger, named Chip White.”

However, when it came to dreams, Vanna White had stars in her eyes. She hoped to be a movie star one day, and after she had surgery to remove her appendix, Vanna decided right then and there she would make her dreams a reality.

“I always wanted to be on TV—well, I shouldn’t say on TV. I wanted to be a movie star. When I was ten years old, I’d just had my appendix taken out, and I was recuperating on the sofa, and the TV was on, and there was this TV show called [The] Rat Patrol, and my mother was in the kitchen making dinner, and she said, “That’s your uncle Christopher George on TV.” And that stuck with me. I thought: Wow, I have an uncle on TV. I wanna be on TV.”

On Her Way to Fame

An odd turn of events, but we aren’t complaining. Without her appendix surgery, we may never have met our beautiful letter-turner.

After White attended college at The Atlanta School of Fashion and Design, Vanna worked various modeling jobs and was even a contestant in the Miss Georgia USA pageant in 1978. In 1979, she packed her bags, and the southern bell headed to Los Angeles to make her childhood dreams a reality.

Vanna White was featured in several movies with minor roles, but by 1982, White’s luck had changed.

She was selected as one of three finalists to co-host the Wheel of Fortune after prior letter-turner Susan Stafford left. She has been a staple on the show, with her partner in crime, Pat Sajak. The two have contracts with the show through 2022.