‘Wheel of Fortune’: Vanna White Called Out Tabloids in 1987 After Tragic Death of Her Fiancé

by John Jamison

The life of a celebrity isn’t all sunshine and daisies. The press can be uncaring and ruthless, hounding the famous constantly. Look no further than the death of Princess Diana for evidence of this.

Fortunately, nothing that extreme has happened to “Wheel of Fortune” star Vanna White. But she has had her own struggles with the opportunism of tabloid journalism.

Vanna White was a sensation on “Wheel of Fortune.” She was watched and appreciated everywhere for her style, charisma, and beauty. As a result, she became wildly famous in the late 1980s and saw firsthand how terrible the tabloids could be.

Vanna White got engaged to actor John Gibson in 1986. Just a few months later, however, Gibson died in a private plane crash. In a 1987 interview with the Associated Press, Vanna talked about the headlines’ heartlessness.

“For me, the tabloids started heavily about a year ago. They don’t have a heart. They don’t let you mourn and grieve. And they print headlines like ‘Vanna Brings Back Lover From the Grave.’ It’s disgusting,” she said.

Tabloid journalism can be a ruthless business. Media outlets have been known to print just about anything to catch a reader’s attention, and the “Wheel of Fortune” star learned that the hard way.

‘Wheel of Fortune’ Star Vanna White Took It in Stride

Vanna was rightfully disgusted by the tabloids’ behavior, and the press didn’t limit itself to her late fiancée. They also took shots at her job on the show by reducing it to simply turning letters. But the “Wheel of Fortune” star quickly grew a thick skin and looked at the headlines as compliments.

“They’re a compliment, I laugh at them myself, and I’m not put down by them at all. I don’t make fun of my job, but let’s face it: I turn letters on a game show. This is what I do,” she said in the 1987 interview.

Besides, Vanna is responsible for much of the success “Wheel of Fortune” has enjoyed. It’s not like her only contribution was turning letters.

In fact, the show was the No. 1 syndicated program at the time of her interview. 38 million people were tuning into the show on a daily basis.