Vanna White is a celebrity known by both older and younger generations alike. That's what happens when you're a co-host on one of America's most popular game shows, Wheel of Fortune, for 35 years. While Vanna has been responsible for uncovering the letters on the classic series for over three decades, what do we really know about the woman behind the beaming smile and glamorous dresses? Vanna has been through a number of ups and downs, such as multiple failed engagements, the death of a fiancé and, of course, family drama. But she never loses that gameshow smile. Read on to learn little-known secrets of the life of Vanna White. It's sure to surprise you!
Vanna White was born on February 18, 1957, in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. She started working as a professional model after high school while attending the Atlanta School of Fashion. She moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting and after a number of small roles in some unknown films, Vanna landed the job that would change her life. She became the co-host and "letter-turner" on NBC's hit game show, Wheel of Fortune. Without even having any scripted lines, she quickly became a megastar, even an iconic figure, in the 1980's American pop culture.
Vanna had a lot of competition for the role on Wheel of Fortune...
The Big Audition
Vanna landed the audition for Wheel of Fortune in November of 1982. She was competing with over 200 women for the role. The chosen actress would be replacing the show's previous letter-turner, Susan Stafford. Vanna was waiting tables at the time, struggling to make ends meet. "I was so nervous because I wanted this job so badly. My knees were shaking; my mouth was quivering; I could hardly talk," says Vanna. Merv Griffin, the show's creator, saw something special in Vanna and told her that she was hired on Thanksgiving Eve of that year.
Turning Letters and Turning Heads
Throughout the years Vanna has been criticized for never attempting to expand her career beyond Wheel of Fortune. Critics mocked her for being complacent in a role that didn't require her to speak. But according to Vanna, who is now in her sixties, she couldn't be happier with how her career turned out. In one interview she said, “I get all dressed up like a Barbie doll. I go out. I give someone else’s money away, make them happy, and we all go home. In show business, there’s nothing else I want to do. Is that bad?”
She's Never Worn The Same Dress Twice
Vanna has worn an estimated 6,500 gowns throughout her run on Wheel of Fortune. She has never ever worn a dress more than once. Vanna has admitted that she tries on at least 50 dresses in a day before choosing which outfit she will wear on the show. She then has 10 minutes in between show tapings to change into the next gown, and she returns each gown after wearing it. Her personal preference is shorter cocktail dresses so that she doesn't have to worry about tripping over the bottoms of them as she walks across the stage.
She's In The Guinness Book Of World Records
Vanna has become known for constantly clapping throughout each episode to show support for each contestant. In fact, her clapping has earned a place in the Guinness Book Of World Records. Vanna has been named "Television's Most Frequent Clapper," with her record for clapping on television being more than 3.9 million times. Considering she has only missed ten shows total, this averages out to more than 600 claps per show, which comes to more than 28,800 times per season. In 2013, Guinness World Records adjudicator Kimberly Partrick presented Vanna with a special certificate during one of the show's tapings.
She's A Pop Culture Icon
Vanna has secured her position as a pop culture icon. In 2000, rapper Nelly released a song called "Ride with Me" in which one of the lines was “I be on the next flight, paying cash, first class, sitting next to Vanna White.” Vanna ran into Nelly at an Easter party and asked him if they ever sat next to each other on a plane. He said, "No, it just rhymed." Merriam-Webster is even considering adding “Vanna White” as a verb to its dictionary. “To Vanna White means to present." She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Vanna's Heartbreaking Tragedy
In 1986, Vanna's fiance John Gibson, a former Chippendales dancer and an actor on the soap operasThe Young and the Restless and One Life to Live, died tragically in a small plane crash at the age of 37. Vanna was devastated. “I met a man I fell in love with, and four years later he was killed," says Vanna. She then went on to say, "The support of viewers was incredible. I received so many letters from people who went through tragedies and tremendous loss. It made me feel like I was not alone, and for the first time, I felt surrounded by love."
Married With Children
In 1989, Vanna married a man named George Santo Pietro, a restaurant owner, film director, and real estate developer. The couple had a heart-wrenching miscarriage before Vanna gave birth to their son Nikko in 1995. Two years later the couple had a daughter, Gigi before getting divorced in 2002. Gigi is a student at New York University who enjoys art, photography, and drawing. Nikko graduated from Oregon State University. Both kids made appearances on Wheel of Fortune, and Gigi even wore a gown to match her mother's.
Nikko's Odd Choices
While in college, Vanna's son Nikko became very close with Jaycee Akinsanya, a male Hare Krishna monk from Liberia twice his age. Jaycee was also a student, and the two then moved in together. Vanna soon discovered that they were actually in a relationship. Though Nikko had said otherwise, it is suspected that Vanna became fearful that her son would be brainwashed by the notorious organization. She's refused to give him the one million dollars that he demanded to build a new ashram for Hare Krishna followers. Rumors have it that when it seemed like he'd get no money out of the relationship, Jaycee moved out.
Living The Life Of Luxury
While married to George Santo Pietro, the couple had quite an amazing home in Los Angeles, complete with its own vineyard! The two purchased the five-acre property in the 90's for an undisclosed amount. Pietro rented it out for years following their separation, the home went on the market for $47.5 million. Other features include eight bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, a gym, a pool and a mini spa. The private vineyard allows for the homeowner to produce his or her own wine. It's located in Beverly Park, a high-end gated community with homes owned by Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, and Sylvester Stallone.
In 2004, Vanna announced her engagement publicly on Wheel of Fortune, to a man named Michael Kaye, a businessman from California.According to Vanna, Michael was low-key and somewhat of a homebody, which was very different from her previous boyfriends and ex-husband. Vanna believed that that type of man was exactly what she needed at that point in her life because she too was laid-back and enjoyed spending time at home. But then a little more than a year later, Vanna broke off their engagement. No specific reason for the canceled engagement was ever made public.
Fourth Time's A Charm?
In 2012, Vanna made her next serious relationship public. This time she was dating John Donaldson, owner of a construction development company. The two had been secretly dating for three years, but because of her past failed romances, Vanna initially kept it under wraps. "He is kind, understanding, and lets me be me." Rumors were circulating that two were engaged and even married, but ended up being false. Other rumors circulated that she called off an engagement because she didn't want to ruin what they had. Whatever the truth may be, the two are still a happy, unmarried couple today.
Vanna's Enviable Salary
Vanna's gig on Wheel of Fortune earns her a whopping $8 million a year! With all the years she's been on the show, which includes more than 6,000 episodes, she is now worth an estimated $40 million dollars. Seems an excessive amount of money for a game show co-host, but that's what happens when your show consistently ranks as one of the most-watched shows on syndicated American television, not to mention all of the toys and merchandise it produces. With such a huge salary coming in every year, it's no wonder why Vanna can't imagine ever retiring.
Vanna Lives A Modest Life Today
Despite her giant earnings, Vanna insists that these days she is living a more simple and modest life. "I’m a real down-to-earth girl. I usually spend my days without makeup, wearing tennis shoes. I love the outdoors. I love waking up early when it’s quiet, going out on the balcony to hear the birds sing." While she gets extremely dolled up every day for work, she claims her home closet is full of jeans and sweaters. She also loves to crochet, often doing so in between takes, and loves to make handmade gifts for birthdays and holidays.
Vanna's crocheting, which she learned to do from her grandmother, has become more than just a hobby; it is a side job and a way for her to give back. She developed her own line of yarn with Lion Brand called Vanna's Choice, and every year she donates a percentage of the proceeds that she earns from sales to St. Jude's Research Hospital. Throughout the years, she has raised more than $1 million for the children's charity. Vanna chose St. Jude's because she feels blessed to have two healthy children of her own, and wants to help other families who are not as fortunate.
Vanna Sued Samsung, Won $400,000
In 1988, Samsung released a tongue-in-cheek magazine ad campaign, with the goal of convincing consumers that their electronics would be running long after Vanna White is replaced with a robot. The ad shows a robot wearing a gown and blonde wig in front of Wheel of Fortune letters. Vanna was not impressed. She sued Samsung, claiming that despite the fact that they used a robot, they were capitalizing on her identity for promotional purposes without her consent, or providing her compensation. Her argument was that she had a common law right to control how her likeness is issued, and the courts ruled in her favor. She was awarded $400,000.
Drinking On The Job
Because of all of the lavish prizes on the Wheel of Fortune, the breaks in between segments could extend on for hours. So Vanna and co-host Pat Sajak used to find a fun way to keep themselves occupied during all of that downtime: they'd have a few drinks. They would head over to Los Arcos Mexican restaurant across the street from the Burbank studio and enjoy a margarita, or two or three... even four. They'd then come back in to finish the taping, and according to Sajak, they'd "have trouble recognizing the alphabet." They don't indulge like that these days.
Was Vanna White Fired?
In 2015, rumors surfaced that Vanna was fired due to compulsive roulette playing. The story originated from a website called Empire News. The show's director was quoted as saying, “We appreciate Vanna’s 32 years with us. However, her recent actions have compromised the production of this all-American favorite. The betrayal felt by viewers upon seeing her spinning around with other wheels is too great to be tolerated. It’s as if she is a wife who cheated on her husband, and her husband is the Wheel of Fortune viewers. She's no longer the loyal servant we once knew and loved." While the story made its rounds, it was a completely fabricated story from a fake news site.
Vanna Is Still Making People Happy Four Decades Later
After all of these years, Vanna is still very vocal about loving what she does. One of her favorite aspects is the effect the show has on people's lives. “I enjoy making people happy, and giving away money and changing their lives." She loves her staff, which consists of 150 people, and considers them all one big happy family. She also appreciates all of the fan mail she receives on a daily basis. “It makes me feel good,” It’s memories of families being together... It’s something special. Sitting around watching Wheel of Fortune is something that you’ll always remember.” At this rate, she may never retire.
The Thing About Vowels
Vanna has been around the show long enough to pick up some great tips for competitors. Chief among them: buy vowels. Apparently, Vanna always gives out this piece of advice when she notices that contestants are nervous. Interestingly, when the show was still just on a day time, vowels were just $150. Since finding even more success as an evening show, the creators were able to increase the profits and the prize money. However, it made those vowels a little bit more expensive and they are now $250. However, Vanna still stands buy her advice that buying vowels is the best way to succeed at the game!
Vanna Orchestrates The Puzzles?
A little known behind the scenes fact about Wheel of Fortune is that all of the cast and crew chip into actually concoct what the next shows puzzles will be. And all this time, we thought they had a writer’s room of people set up to do that. As it turns out, Vanna is actually a huge crossword puzzle fan. She constantly does them in her spare time, so she loves to help make the puzzles for the show. According to costar Pat Sajak, Vanna’s puzzles get used on air all the time. It’s nice to know there is a lot of brains behind the beauty!
Before She Was The Star…
Back when the vowels were still on the cheaper side of things, Wheel of Fortune was a daytime game show. Although the fan base of back then was considerably smaller than the one that exists today, there was a least one superfan watching all that time. None other than Vanna White, herself! Vanna even once attempted to audition to be a contestant on the show. Although, she later got her shot at being one of the stars of the show alongside host Pat Sajak. She said during her audition she was definitely the most nervous of all. Vanna said, “My knees were quivering and my legs were shaking.”
Vanna’s Most Surprising Contestant
In 2014, contestant Emil De Leon correctly guessed the phrase “New baby buggy”, while only know two letters N and E. Emil was twenty-five years old at the time of his amazing solve and the moment immediately went viral as audiences everywhere couldn’t believe their eyes. Both Pat Sajak and Vanna White still say this was the most stunning solve they have ever witnessed. While the two have certainly seen some amazing solves in their day, this one certainly takes the cake. Many thought the moment might be rigged, but no Emil was just really on top of his puzzle solving skills that day!
Post 9/11 Aftermath
September 11th is a day the changed the United States, and the world, forever. Both Pat Sajak and Vanna White were affected by terrorist attack that has since shaped the modern world. Three days after the attacks, Wheel of Fortune was supposed to film in Miami. Vanna was in the Bahamas at the time and set to fly back to the United States. Of course, all planes had been grounded. Vanna recalled that ABC sent a trawler boat to pick her up. The boat was a bit on the rough side and Vanna already being shaken from the attacks like most Americans spent the entire ride to Miami thinking, “I’m going to die”. The crew of the show were also unable to get to location so the studios ended up contracting local workers. As they say, the show must go on and it did. Sajak recalled that it made them feel as though one day things would return to normal.
Vanna’s Personal Vineyard
When Vanna was previous married to her ex-husband and father of her two children George Santo Pietro, the two lived in a sprawling $47.5 million mansion located in Los Angeles. After their divorce in 2002, George kept the property and was renting it until November of 2017. One of the most amazing luxuries about the property was its very own private vineyard. The home is located in the elite gated community called Beverly Park. Some of Vanna and George’s former neighbors include Eddie Murphy, Denzel Washington, and Sylvester Stallone. Vanna has admitted to loving a good glass of vino!
Vanna Was Moved By This Contestant
Vanna has shared that many contestants have amazing stories about ways the Wheel of Fortune has changed their lives. In 2017 the show celebrated its 35th anniversary and in that spirit Vanna shared the many ways fans had reached out them over the years. One amazing way that a fan said the show helped her was in the adoption of a child. Vanna told People, "We had one woman [who told us] that they adopted a child. And of course, they'd send the pictures [with] 'Here's the child I adopted.'" As a mother, the moment truly touched Vanna’s heart. She continued, "It's very heartwarming to see those letters come in, how it has affected so many people.”
The Show Changes Lives
Vanna also shared other ways that the show has helped people change their lives for the better. Many contestants are able to pull themselves out of tough financial strains. She said, "People pay off their student loans, they buy their first homes, they go on honeymoons, they buy cars that they've never had. So it changes a lot of people's lives.” Vanna recalled, after winning a car, a contestant turned to Pat Sajak and said, 'I don't have to take the bus anymore.” Others have gone the more altruistic route and started their own way of giving back. She said, "We've had other people who have taken the money and have started charities, or have helped organizations that help other people, not just themselves." Who would have thought Wheel of Fortune was so life-changing?
The Dark-Sided Meaning Of “Vanna White”
According to Urban Dictionary, “Vanna White” is also a slang term used to refer to a pure form of cocaine. As Urban Dictionary puts it, “pure cocaine that once sniffed makes you feel like your spinning on the wheel and it gets you so smashed that people are puzzled by your words.” This is not the only time Vanna’s name has been unwittingly connected to bad behavior. According to the FBI, in February of 2017, fifteen people were arrested in a heroin trafficking ring in Chicago. The people involved in the ring called themselves the “Vanna White Line”. In turn, the authorities referred to the investigation as “Operation Wheel of Fortune.” At one point, the heroin ring was bringing in $15,000 a day at only one spot in the city.
Vanna White Loves Yarn
Of course, in real life Vanna White enjoys things on the more benign side of life. In fact one of her innocent interest is yarn! Vanna has said, “My love of yarn began when my grandmother taught me to crochet. Crafting was so much more than a hobby to her. It was a way to share her love with everyone around her. As a mother, it was important for me to pass on my love of yarn. Now, my daughter and I love to shop for yarn and crochet together.” Vanna has been the spokesperson for Lion Brand Yarn for over 18 years and now she even has her own line of yarn called “Vanna’s Choice”. In a team effort both she and the Lion Brand Yarn have used their yarn sales for good and have donated $1,000,000 to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Vanna Mania Fans
When Vanna first hit the scene, people went wild for the spokesmodel, which was unheard of before she took the stage. Her fans even had a named, “Vannamania”. Back in 1991, Vanna was asked by reporters if she could explain the pop culture phenomenon. She answered, “No. No, I can't. I think it goes back to being real and honest and down-to-earth and natural." Vanna continued to say that she believed her success was due to the fact that she played herself on TV and not a character and that for some reason that reverberated with people around the world. Twenty-six years later, and it sounds like that still rings true!
That Sparkling Smile
Vanna has always been known for her beautiful looks and some might argue that her sparkling smile is the crown jewel of her appearance. In an interview with Dear Doctor, Vanna gave a closer look about how she takes care of her smile. Apparently, she didn’t always have that perfect smile. Vanna has admitted that she wore braces for a year as a child and that her son also had to wear them. She said nowadays, unlike many other Hollywood figures, she does not have veneers or implants. Rather, she takes care of the teeth she has with regular cleanings and she also says that she has whitening procedures twice a year to combat coffee and red wine stains.
In 1987, Vanna authored a book called “Vanna Speaks”. She wrote about “how to be beautiful in mind, spirit, and body.” For the 1980s the book is said to be remarkably candid. She apparently even discusses her virginity and her mother encouraging her to take “the pill”. Back in these days talking about such things were considered extremely taboo, when nowadays they are considered quite tame. In the book she also says to go into a lot of detail about various attributes of her life including the possibly unhealthy ways she tries to maintain her weight (skipping meals) and all the boys she’s dated throughout high school.
Be Careful Online
Vanna recently took to Instagram after she was notified that companies are using her likeness to say that she has endorsed their skin products. Vanna clarified that she has never endorsed any skin care products and for fans to be careful when purchasing products online. Vanna is not the only female celebrity to deal with companies unjustly using their likenesses for marketing purposes. Actress Pauley Perrette has recently dealt with a similar situation. As has superstar Beyonce, who recently sent a cease and desist to a company who was using her likeness and name to market their specialty beer beverage.
Vanna’s Game Of Thrones Themed Halloween
In 2017, Vanna appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live dressed as a “White Walker” from Game of Thrones. Of course, her take on the terrifying character was a rather attractive version. Jimmy himself was out for the night with Dave Grohl taking the helm as guest host. Dave was dressed as David Letterman. Vanna was there to appear during Jimmy’s Halloween game where the show mixes two costumes and the audience has to guess the character. Vanna was “Vanna White-Walker”. Other character mashups included the Handmaid's Snail and Marge Gimp-son. Vanna was a surprise appearance as herself, and of course the audience was super excited to see her. Additionally, Alice Cooper finished off on the night with an appearance as himself.
PuberMe For Puerto Rico Relief
In 2017 Hurricane Maria absolutely devastated the island of Puerto Rico. In the wake of the destruction and the minimal response from the American government, celebrities attempted to help raise money for the island. One such was the “PuberMe” campaign launched by Stephen Colbert and Nick Kroll on The Late Show. The campaign aimed for celebs to share awkward photos of themselves from when they were around the age of thirteen. In turn, Colber promised to aid Puerto Rico through proceeds of sales from his Ben and Jerry’s AmeriCone Dream ice cream and Nick Kroll would match the donations. Vanna was one that participated and it looks like her teen years weren’t too awkward!
Her Son Nikko
Vanna’s son Nikko De Pietro has been studying to be an organic farmer. In addition, he is an apprentice bread breaker and it’s clear that he focuses on living healthily as possible. In 2013, he made headlines after a then nineteen-year-old Nikko started dating a thirty-four-year old Hare Krishna monk named Jaycee Akinsanya. The two met while attending the University of Arizona. At the time, there were fears that the older man was taking advantage of Nikko because of his family’s money. However, Nikko and Jaycee were determined to prove that there love was real although it is unknown if the couple remains together today.
Talent Runs In The Family
Vanna is not the only one that has her hand in the entertainment industry. Her younger brother Chip White has also become involved with filmmaking as a screenwriter, director and producer. While he worked for years with various big companies behind-the-scenes like Sony, MTV, Vh1 and Nickelodeon, he has recently taken on some of his own more creative endeavors. In 2017, he teamed up with writer and director Shea Sizemore to make the short film “Crab Trap”. Vanna showed support for her brother’s film on Instagram, urging others to watch the short which tells the tale of a man attempting to prove to his sister that he is a changed man.
Vanna The Cat Lady
If you frequently look at Vanna’s social media you will notice that she’s a huge fan of cats. Some of her felines include her twelve-year-old cat Stella, her daughter Gigi’s cat and other stranger cats she meets throughout life. For instance, she took a photo of one cat lounging at the fish market. She has also encouraged her followers to adopt their pets rather than shop for them. After the hurricanes that hit Florida and Texas, Vanna posted a photo of her daughter’ Gigi’s adopted kitten and said, “My daughter Gigi #adopted this sweet #cat from Miami-Dade County. Do what you can to help the people and the animals in Texas, Florida, or anywhere in need.” What a great cat lady!
Rap Song Shout Out
Vanna White has enough street cred that she even appeared in a rap song. In the 2000 song, “Ride Wit Me” from his hit album “Country Grammar”. Vanna’s kids were particularly impressed with the lyric which went, "Can I make it? Damn right, I be on the next flight / Payin' cash; first class - sittin' next to Vanna White". Vanna said that years later she ran into Nelly at a party. She said, "I was at an Easter party years ago and Nelly was at that party. I went up to him and I said, 'Did we ever sit next to each other on an airplane?' And he goes, 'No, it just rhymed.' True story!" We guess that’s one rap mystery solved!
The Names Rhyme
Before the name Vanna White became synonymous with Wheel of Fortune, it was briefly associated with another hugely popular game show -- The Price Is Right. Vanna was a contestant on the Bob Barker-hosted game show in 1980, wearing a t-shirt that said "Get Serious." She didn't win anything and was actually called out by Barker for checking herself out in the monitor throughout her appearance! Vanna denies the claims, and told Yahoo that she “wasn’t looking at myself in the monitor! I was looking at my friend to get an answer from her!” Suuuure, Vanna.
She’s A Flipper, Part Time
In 2017, Vanna told Nightline that she enjoys “flipping” houses – renovating and reselling them for a profit – to supplement her $4 million per year salary. Alas, there are fewer and fewer homes to be purchased these days. “I’m a businesswoman. You know, I have other investments too, real estate,” said White. “A long time ago, I would buy a house and flip it. But now everybody does that so I don’t do that anymore because there’s no houses out there to buy.” Surely someone out there has a home to sell Vanna White!
Born For This Job
Vanna White was born on February 18, 1957, at 2:35 PM, which makes her a Pisces (water sign). The astrology website AstroTheme says this about her time of birth: “The predominance of Air signs in your chart favors and amplifies your taste for relations and for all kinds of short trips, whether real (travels) or symbolic (new ideas, mind speculations). You gain in flexibility and adaptability what you lose in self-assertion or in pragmatism.” This all sounds very fitting for her jet-setting job as one of the most famous game show hosts of all time!
She Is A Wonderful Daughter
Vanna, who grew up in Myrtle Beach, SC, is a caring daughter. In fact, she had already moved to L.A. in the hopes of making the big time when her mother got sick. As Biography reports, “Vanna was finding L.A. a tough nut to crack when she got the devastating call that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. Without giving it a second thought, she returned to South Carolina and cared for her mother until her death.” It is nice to know that Vanna could be counted on when her mom needed her most.
Goddess Of Love
Vanna has appeared in several television shows and films. One of these, a made-for-TV movie called Goddess of Love, debuted in 1988. Vanna co-starred with some recognizable names like Amanda Bearse, who played the role of Marcy Rhoades D'Arcy on the popular 1980s sitcom Married With Children. The movie didn’t do well, though, with TV Guide going so far as to say that her performance was "wheely" bad. IMDB offers this synopsis of the film: “The god Zeus sends Venus, the goddess of love, to Earth to find her own true love.”
She's A Star!
In 2006, Vanna White was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. She was 49. Of the tribute, she said, “I remember my parents telling me, at the age of 10, ‘You can do anything you want.”’ Dad, we did it!” Her father was present at the ceremony, along with her co-star Pat Sajak, Wheel of Fortune creator Merv Griffin, and Alex Trebek. Her son Nicholas and daughter Giovanna were also there for the grand occasion. If you'd like to visit Vanna's star, it's in the 7000 block of Hollywood Boulevard.
It Will Be A Sad, Sad Day
Wheel fans will likely be devastated when the day comes that Vanna White decides to retire, as she and Pat Sajak apparently plan to quit showbiz as a duo. Sajak once joked, “My goal is to leave before people turn on the TV and go, ‘What the hell happened to him?' I can’t imagine being up there with someone else.” 35+ years is quite a long working relationship for anyone! It is pretty difficult to imagine watching the show with either of its beloved hosts missing. Those are big shoes to fill!
Weird Al Loves Some Vanna
The ultimate parody artist Weird Al included a song all about Vanna White on his 1987 album “Even Worse.” The song was a parody of Van Halen’s "Feel Your Love Tonight." It includes the lyrics:
“Now I'm bein' followed by these Russian spies
They give me some velcro, and an order of fries
Suddenly I'm bowling on the Starship Enterprise
I fall down a hole and that's when I realize
I am stuck in a closet with Vanna White
I'm stuck in a closet with Vanna White
Night after night after night after night.”
It's An International Affair
Wheel of Fortune is so hugely popular that it has versions in dozens of countries around the world. Croatia, Hungary, Mexico, France, Vietnam, and Sweden are just a handful. In Russia, the game is called Pole Chudes and is intended for a slightly more mature audience (16+). The Australian version of the show featured the model and author Adriana Xenides (pictured above) in Vanna White's role for 18 years. She even won a Guinness Record for her long run on the show. Sadly, she died in 2010 after a tragic 20-year long addiction to painkillers.
In 1993, Wheel of Fortune had an unusual guest, one who appeared to be under the influence of something (people speculated that it was crack). Raymond Taylor turned out not to be on drugs at all, but simply had autism. Regardless, his strange repeated appearances and huge winnings were one reason that the show banned contestants from appearing more than once. Raymond was actually ejected from the set of Wheel on four separate occasions. One fan had this to say online recently: “He wasn’t a crackhead! In fact, he was a very intelligent man. A bit different and a tad eccentric, nonetheless a gentle soul. The people that knew him understood him. RIP Raymond E Taylor 2/27/44 – 2/27/2010”.