Television personality. White was born Vanna Marie Rosich in Conway on February 18, 1957, the daughter of Miguel Angel Rosich and Joan Marie Rosich. Her parents divorced when she was less than one year old, and she was raised in North Myrtle Beach by her mother and her stepfather, Herbert Stackley White, Jr. She graduated from North Myrtle Beach High School, then attended Atlanta School for Fashion and Design. After gaining some modeling experience, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her lifetime ambition of an acting career. White landed a few minor acting roles in Hollywood, but her career stalled and she worked part-time as a waitress to help make ends meet.
White’s big break came in 1982, when the television producer Merv Griffin added her to his NBC game show creation Wheel of Fortune, hosted by Pat Sajak. At the call of the contestants attempting to solve word puzzles, White turned letters on a giant board. The show was a hit and soon entered national syndication. As a result, the attractive and spirited letter-turner from South Carolina became a household name and pop icon. Always cheering on the contestants, White was recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992 as TV’s most frequent clapper. She averaged 720 claps per show and more than 28,000 per season. She won endorsement contracts, marketed her own fragrance, and got a starring role in the 1988 movie Goddess of Love. Her autobiography, Vanna Speaks, was published in 1987.
On December 31, 1990, White married the restaurateur George Santo Pietro. They had two children. The couple filed for divorce in 2002.
White, Vanna. Vanna Speaks. New York: Warner, 1987.