Celebrity Biographies

Celebrity Biographies Vanna White

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Vanna White was born Vanna Rosich on February 18, 1957 in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Her biological father, Michael Rosich, left the family when Vanna was only a baby, and her parents were soon divorced. Her mother, Joan, then married Herbert White, and gave birth to Vanna's half-brother, Chip, in 1960.

Vanna and Chip grew up during the days of the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the hippie movement, the so-called "Summer of Love" (1967), the assassinations of both the Kennedy brothers and Martin Luther King, Watergate, and the Energy Crisis. But they were still normal children.

When Vanna was ten years old, she saw the 1960's ABC World War II drama, The Rat Patrol with Christopher George, and she decided to pursue a television career. In 1971, when she was 14, her parents took her and Chip to New York to not only see her biological father, but to see a taping of Concentration as well.

Vanna graduated from high school in 1975, moved to Atlanta, and pursued a modeling career. In 1980, both she and a girlfriend drove to Los Angeles. Although Vanna was a successful model in Atlanta, she was rejected for a lot of modeling jobs; including Nina Blanchard (who appeared periodically on the Merv Griffin show. In fact, she told Vanna that they don't take anybody over 5'7". In order to make ends meet, she took a job in a Italian restaurant.

It was also in 1980 that Vanna learned that her mother, Joan, had breast cancer. She went back to South Carolina, and her mother died at the age of 44.

Then in 1982, she landed the job that made her a star: the letter turner on the game show Wheel of Fortune, which was created by talk show host Merv Griffin. She replaced Susan Stafford, who was going back to Texas and becoming a nurse. Vanna soon become the talk of the tabloids and the legitimate press.

Vanna had dated and lived with John Gibson, a soap opera actor and dancer with the Chippendales, but he was killed in a plane crash at the Van Nuys airport on May 17, 1986. On New Year's Eve, 1990, Vanna got married to Italian restaurant owner George Santo Pietro, who was Linda Evans' ex-boyfriend. She had two children by him; Nicholas, born in 1994; and Giovanna, born in 1997. But they got divorced because of George's constant cheating. She was engaged to stockbroker Michael Kay, but they have since broken up.

Twenty-six years later, Vanna is still turning the letters on Wheel of Fortune.

More about this author: Lisa Fagan

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