‘Wheel of Fortune’ Hostess Vanna White Posed For Playboy to Pay Rent
Vanna White has been gracing our screens for years as the famous letter-turner and co-host on the beloved game show Wheel of Fortune, alongside Pat Sajak. She has been the beautiful, charming television personality of the show since 1982! But before she ever hit the TV screen, she was actually a contestant in the Miss Georgia 1978 pageant. So no wonder the 64-year-old’s stunning outfits and grace have made her one of the most well-known game co-hosts for more than 30 years.
Born in South Carolina, Vanna White was born Vanna Marie Angel, near North Myrtle Beach, in Conway, South Carolina, in 1957. She attended the Atlanta School of Fashion in Atlanta, Georgia after high school and worked as a model. Shortly afterward she moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting and the red carpet. She landed a few minor acting roles in Gypsy Angels, Graduation Day, Looker, and Star of the Family in the early 1980’s.
Around this time she was also a contestant on The Price is Right. (Does it count as cheating if she hadn’t been on Wheel of Fortune yet? Either way, it just doesn’t feel right!) Sporting a blue shirt that read “Get Serious”, she charmed the crowd, contestants, and even Bob Barker. Sadly, she never made it off the “Contestant’s Row,” and bid way too high on prizes!
Vanna White auditioned against over 200 other hopefuls to land the gig of hostess on NBC game show Wheel of Fortune in 1982. Within a short time, she struck stardom gold. Endorsements came, and she starred in Venus: The Goddess of Love, an NBC movie. Weird Al Yankovic wrote a song called “Stuck In A Closet With Vanna White” on his 1988 album Even Worse. She also appeared as a minor character on the Nintendo 64 game “Paper Mario” named Vanna T.
In 1987, some Wheel of Fortune viewers were shocked to see that White was actually staring back at them from the cover of an issue of Playboy magazine. To which yes, inside were some very intriguing seminude photos of White. While fans were very puzzled by her career choice, however, she didn’t actually agree to appear in the magazine itself. Hugh Hefner had bought the publication of the photographs that she had agreed to pose for in 1982, prior to being hired for the game show. Why did she decide to pose for the magazine?
Well, according to the Washington Post, she needed to do the shoot to pay for rent when she left her hometown of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to pursue her career in Los Angeles. A 60-year-old at the time, she told Fox News, “When I first moved to Hollywood, I was too embarrassed to ask my dad for rent money. I was young and I wanted to do it on my own. So, I did these lingerie shots and from the moment I said I would do them, I thought, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m not going to ask my dad for money, so I’m just going to do it!'”
With headlines that preceded her Playboy debut adoring her saying, “How much Vanna can we Stanna?” she had also expressed her concerns about being on the cover of the magazine to Johnny Carson, saying, ‘I’m so sorry . . . I made a mistake, I’m sorry and I just hope I don’t lose my job over it.'”
After Merv Griffin hired her to be the official letter-turner on Wheel of Fortune, she begged Hugh Hefner for the non-publication of the pictures, desiring to stay away from turning into a centerfold. She even wounded up suing the magazine for $5.2 million for tarnishing her “family audience” image, suing Hefner personally. But of course, due to how big the franchise was and Playboy’s promotion efforts, she quickly decided to drop both suits.