White landed the role on the show in 1982 when original hostess Susan Stafford left. White was one of several women that auditioned for the part. But if Sajak had his way, White might have never got the role, to begin with. The game show host admitted he told producers he didn’t think White was right for the position.
White had been nervous during the audition, and the game show host thought she would get stage fright during the live taping.
“I thought Vanna was a terrible choice. Not that she wasn’t beautiful and charming and the sweetest person you ever wanted to know. She was so darn nervous when she did it,” Sajak told the Television Academy Foundation. “I mean you could barely see past her quivering lip. I thought I don’t know if she can get over this. She’s swell and obviously easy on the eyes and all that. And she seemed like she would be easy to work with.
Sajak thought White’s competition was more polished and professional. He admittedly tried to dissuade them from hiring White. But producers weren’t looking for polished and professional. They thought White brought an edge to the role and gave her the chance to prove herself.
Vanna White and Pat Sajak Become Friends
Later, Sajak said he ended up regretting his initial doubts. White became a big part of “Wheel of Fortune,” and their partnership has carried the show for decades. Behind the scenes, Sajak said he’s enjoyed watching her grow in the role and as a professional. White had a desire to really learn about the game show business and would often ask Sajak for his advice on creating promotionals.
“She really blossomed and became really comfortable very quickly. And the other great thing about Vanna is she really wanted to learn about this business,” Sajak continued.
Her eagerness to learn really impressed Sajak and showed him he never should have had any reservations. White even replaced Sajak for a short while in 2019. The game show host had to have surgery and was out for three weeks while he recovered. During that time, White stepped in for Sajak on the show, taking over the role for those episodes. Currently, she would make a worthy successor should Sajak ever decide to step down from the role.