Vanna White’s name seems like it was tailor-made to be a tough final puzzle on Wheel of Fortune. It’s the double N’s, it seems misspelled. White said the inspiration came from a family friend. Though, not the spelling.
“The name Vanna came from my grandmother’s next-door neighbor,” she told Believer magazine. “Her name was Vana Woorell—W–o–o–r–e–l–l—and she spelled her name with one n—V–a–n–a—so my mother liked the name so much, she said, ‘Well, I’m gonna name my daughter Vanna with two n’s.'”
She was born with the name Vanna Rosich, but her parents divorced when she was an infant. She took her stepfather’s last name as a child, according to Mental Floss.
The Believer reporter was curious if White had chosen the name herself as a showbiz pseudonym because it sounds too perfect. It’s such a memorable and easy-to-say name. It’s also immediately recognizable and unique. If someone says Vanna, there’s no mistaking they’re talking about the Vanna.
Vanna White Says Her Idol Was Dolly Parton
Before she was turning letters on Wheel of Fortune, Vanna White was a normal teenager in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., idolizing another Southern belle, Dolly Parton. She explained to Believer that Parton always seemed comfortable in her own skin and confident.
“I would say Dolly Parton would be my biggest inspiration when I was younger. I said, ‘If I ever become famous, I wanna be like her, ’cause I don’t feel that she is affected in any way.'” White said,”… I loved her heart. She was so genuine to me. And so sweet.”
But she also found some stars closer to her age with whom she always wanted to trade places.
“And I always wanted to be either Susan Dey from The Partridge Family, because I had a huge crush on David Cassidy, or Marcia Brady. I liked her just because I liked—I just wanted to be her because she was on The Brady Bunch. I loved that show growing up.”
She actually chose her career path because of her love of television. Stuck at home after having her appendix taken out, and was watching The Rat Patrol. Her mother told her that her uncle Christopher George was on that show. It made Hollywood seem so accessible knowing she had family who’d made it, she said. So, right then, she decided she seek her fortunes in La La Land when she grew up.