Vanna White Hosts 'Wheel of Fortune' for the First Time in 37 Years
Vanna White is stepping away from the big Wheel of Fortune board and taking center stage.
The long-time letter-turner was tapped to host the show when longtime host Pat Sajak had to undergo emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine back in early November. Production stopped for a day, but resumed with White in the spotlight the following day.
All together, White's filmed three weeks worth of Wheel of Fortune episodes as the special host, before Sajak returned, and the game show veteran's first episode aired Monday night.
"I’ve never even thought of that in 37 years," White said of hosting in an interview with The New York Times last week. "And to be asked almost on the spot, ‘How do you feel about hosting the show?’ Like, what?!"
White admitted that she was "excited and nervous" about taking on the new role -- as her position has largely been a silent one, apart from some occasional banter between her and Sajak during the episodes.
However, being a part of the show for almost four decades made her an obvious choice for who should fill in for Sajak on such short notice.
"Normally I just stand there and I turn my letters, and I’m just happy as can be not having to worry about anything else," White shared. "But here I am controlling the game. So logistically, it was much harder. But I know every aspect of the game, which helped so much."
While White was at the big wheel for three weeks, the show -- which was filming Disney-themed episodes -- tasked costumed Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters to turn the letters on the board for the first two weeks. For the final week, the show reportedly had a special guest who will be revealed when they take their place at the big board on the first episode of the week.
Fan reactions to White's first episode as host were, in a word, mixed. There were many who praised the Wheel of Fortune stalwart for stepping up when she had to, and staunchly defended her against critics.
Meanwhile, some fans felt White was awkward and mechanical as host, especially when it came to interacting with the contestants and the mechanics of the game itself.
Considering this is only White's first episode, it'll be interesting to see how she settles into the new position over the next three weeks.
Meanwhile, ET spoke with White in May at the 26th Annual Race to Erase MS Gala, where she opened up about another longtime friend and fellow gameshow icon, Alex Trebek, who's been dealing with his own health struggle this year.
White revealed that Trebek gave her a head's up on his stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis before he announced it on March 6.
"Yes, because we're a family," she said. "We've been together for over 30 years. Even though Jeopardy! is different from Wheel, we're kind of the same."
"He is a strong man and has such a will to conquer this," she added of 79-year-old Trebek. Check out the video below to hear more.
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