VANNA WHITE BY RICHARD KIND – Celebrity Autobiography

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I will be reading from Vanna Speaks by Vanna White. I think of my job as that of a cheerleader. Of course, as you know, my main job is turning the letters. Merv says that he hired me because I turned the letters better than any of the 200 other women who auditioned. And what’s my secret? As I told “60 Minutes,” it must be in the wrist. When we’re all in position, the overhead TV monitor in the studio shows the spinning wheel as a pre-recorded crowd chants “Wheel of Fortune.” Now, all during this segment I’m racing about the stage to take my place beside the next prize that I must show off.

Now once the top prizes have all been shown, I disappear behind a curtain as Jack introduces Pat Sajak. Then comes my introduction for which I will forever be grateful. As Pat says, the two words that have been immortalized on a California license plate, Oh, Vanna. At that, the curtain is pulled, and I make my entrance. Informal surveys reveal that lots of people tune in to see what I’ll wear. I used to spin around every time. But now, I turn only when my dress has an interesting back. During a round, I concentrate and listen very carefully to what each player says. Even though I do not turn the letters until they are lit up on the board, I know where each one is located. So I am always ready to move, and I know just where I’m going. When there’s a long puzzle– a phrase such as lightning never strikes twice in the same place– I have to rush like crazy to turn all the letters once the puzzle been solved, so that Pat can get on to the next part of the game.

Sure, it’s not the most intellectually challenging job in the world, few jobs are. But it is hard work. Basically, one show is very much like the rest. But in fact, there is enough about each that’s different to keep it interesting. We never know what’s going to happen next. The puzzles are different, the contestants are different, and there’s always the wheel. You just never know. Of course, there have been some really interesting incidents. Once, during the first season, I fell flat on my face while the cameras were rolling. A contestant had just won a new Mustang. And as I stepped down off the puzzle board, I fell. I jumped up, I dusted myself off, and I walked over to congratulate the winner. Another time, I had just finished turning a letter, and as I moved off to the side, my foot grazed one of the big light bulbs causing it to shatter. I didn’t dare look down until I knew the camera was off me certain that my foot was ruined. Once while turning the letters in the middle of a round, my belt broke and nearly fell off.

But I just held on to it, and I kept flipping those panels. After the round ended, my dresser, Florence, fixed the belt by pinning it to my dress. I’ve also broken fingernails, lost earrings, even stumbled. Being on the show has also presented me with opportunities to do things that I’ve never dreamed I do like hula hooping on national television. Now that “Wheel of Fortune” has become an enormous success, everybody from columnists, to reporters, to sociologists have tried to explain it, but nobody really can. It seems to me that the fact that it’s just a great, fun, family game that everyone can play should be all the explanation that anybody needs.

Vanna White.

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