As the leading lady on “Wheel of Fortune,” Vanna White has appeared on television screens for decades. While fans may know she’s excellent at effortlessly activating the puzzle board letters, they may not know that her given name at birth was not Vanna White.
Vanna White was born on February 18, 1957, as Vanna Marie Angel in Conway, South Carolina. Shortly after her mother gave birth, her father disappeared from her life, and White used her mother’s maiden name until her mother married Herbert White. Even though he wasn’t her biological father, White raised her like his own, and as a result, she took on her stepfather’s last name.
Together the family moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where her stepfather became a successful real estate broker and started his own real estate company: White’s Realty. After finishing high school, White moved to Atlanta, Georgia, to attended The Atlanta School of Fashion and Design. While going to school, she also worked as a model. After getting her start in Atlanta, White headed off to Hollywood in 1979 to pursue acting but later returned to her home state of South Carolina in 1980 to be will her mother, who had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Vanna White Lands Dream Job in 1982
White returned to Hollywood, where she landed a series of minor acting jobs. She starred in the 1980 film Gypsy Angels in the role of Mickey. White also had a part in 1981’s Looker, starring alongside Albert Finney. She also booked the part of Doris in the 1981 high school thriller Graduation Day. In 1982, Fans also saw her in one episode of the TV series “Star of the Family.”
After booking minor roles in various films and shows, her big break came in 1982. That year, White book the gig that would make her a star. Out of 200 nominees, NBC chose White to join the new host and former weatherman Pat Sajak on the game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
Over the years, the show garnered millions of views and new-found success, and by 1986 it became a syndicated evening show. The show now attracted 30 million viewers in its new primetime slot and grossed $100 million a year. In its 16th year in syndication in 1999, approximately 40 million people were regular viewers.