‘Wheel of Fortune’: Who Were the Top Contenders for Vanna White’s Role?

by Emily Morgan
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The co-host we all know and love, Vanna White, has been strutting her stuff on the beloved game show for nearly 40 years— making herself a television icon in the world of entertainment. However, White’s ascension to stardom wasn’t the easiest. Before she booked the gown-wearing gig, she had to audition along with 200 other “Wheel of Fortune” hopefuls.

During an interview, White spilled the beans on her “Wheel of Fortune” journey that led her to the coveted spot. “I was dating this gentleman, John Gibson, and his manager was the same manager for Janet Johns, who was the dancer on ‘Dance Fever.’ He said, let’s go down and see the show, which happens to be a Merv Griffin show.”

At the time, Merv Griffin was a game show God who made his millions developing and creating classic game shows that included the “Wheel” and “Jeopardy!” Janet Johns, better known as Janet Gretzky, was a contestant on Griffin’s show: “Dance Fever”, which was a musical variety show in the ’80s.

Lucky enough for White, she happened to be in the right place at the right time. Even though she didn’t meet Griffin, she did meet his right-hand man: Murray Schwartz. After she mentioned auditioning, Schwartz offered her his card and told her to call if they hadn’t found someone.

The Show Narrows It Down to Vanna White & Her Friend

After auditioning, the network narrowed their choice down to two women: White and her good friend, Vickie McCarthy. “So it was between the two of us, and we were two opposities,” White said. “You know, here I am, I’m blonde and shakey, and she’s so poised. I thought there is no way I’m getting this.”

On Thanksgiving, White got the phone call she would never forget. Griffin let her know that they wanted her to be the leading lady on “Wheel of Fortune” alongside Pat Sajak.

“He felt like Pat and I were like a brother-sister team,” White recalled of the conversation. “We worked well together. He saw the chemistry between the two of us and just thought that America would love us as a team.”

When Vanna White asked Griffin why they offered her the job, Griffin gave her a hilarious response.”He said, ‘Well, you turned the letters better than anyone else.'”

Outsider.com