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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Vanna White

Yesterday was Vanna White’s 54th birthday. To honor the game show world’s most famous hostess, let’s turn around five facts you may not know about her.

1. She Really Used Her Head

How did Vanna get her job? Was it her beautiful face? Her elegance when she revealed the letters? Those things certainly didn’t hurt, but according to Merv Griffin, they weren’t her best selling point. That honor goes to her gourd.

When Griffin was casting the hostess/letter-turner part on the revamped Wheel of Fortune in 1982, he had his assistant put 10 women’s headshots on his desk, and he immediately chose White. Why? She had the heftiest noggin. In 1987 Griffin said he chose Vanna, “Because her head’s too big for her body. When you look at her 8-by-10s, her head’s so big that all her features – her mouth, her great big eyes – all stand out. The camera loves her!”

Griffin was apparently too diplomatic to tell Vanna that she got the job based on her hat size. In 1986 she told People that Griffin had explained her hiring by praising her letter-turning. “He told me I turned the letters better than anyone. And I guess I did.”

2. She Had Some Game Show Experience, Though

Wheel was White’s first game show job, but she had a bit of experience in the industry as a contestant. Check out her 1980 appearance on The Price is Right.

3. She’s Serious About Crocheting

White doesn’t just use her hands to turn letters. She’s also a crocheting machine who specializes in afghans. She has said that early in her Wheel career she kept a record of every afghan she made, but she gave up that effort after the list topped 70 creations. Vanna is generous with her products, too. She made Pat Sajak a special afghan, and in 2007 Merv Griffin told Esquire that Vanna had crocheted him two comforters.

In fact, White might be the world’s most famous crocheting enthusiast. Lion Brand markets her signature brand of yarn under the name Vanna’s Choice, and she has penned several books on afghan-making, including Vanna’s Favorite Gift Afghans and Vanna’s Afghans Throughout the House.

4. She’s Got a Guinness Record

Anyone who watches Wheel knows that Vanna does her fair share of clapping. In 1992 the folks at Guinness decided to figure out just how much clapping she does. The findings: White claps 720 times per episode. Over the course of a season, that adds up to 28,000 claps. All of this enthusiasm earned Vanna the Guinness title of “Television’s Most Frequent Clapper.”

5. She Doesn’t Think Robots Are Funny

In the early 1990s, Samsung ran a print ad for a VCR that read “Longest Running Game Show, 2012 AD” and showed a robot wearing a blonde wig turning around a letter. The ad was a pretty obvious reference to White, but she hadn’t given Samsung permission to use her identity.

Vanna sued Samsung, and although a trial court initially tossed the case, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reinstated the case, which White won thanks to her claim of her right of publicity being infringed upon.

If there’s someone you’d like to see profiled in a future edition of ’5 Things You Didn’t Know About…,’ leave us a comment. You can read the previous installments here.

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February 19th, 2011

Stranger to the World


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