Vanna White takes spin as Wheel Of Fortune host after 37 years

On Dec 9, 2019, for the first time in 37 years, Vanna White (left) stepped away from the big letter board and into the role of host of Wheel Of Fortune, beginning a three-week stint after Pat Sajak had emergency surgery. PHOTO: NYTIMES

NEW YORK (NYTimes) - For 37 years, Vanna White has sashayed back and forth across the Wheel Of Fortune stage, revealing tens of thousands of consonants and vowels.

On Monday (Dec 9), for the first time, she stepped into the role of host, beginning a three-week stint leading the classic TV game show.

On Nov 8, producers announced that long-time host Pat Sajak, 73, had emergency surgery to treat a blocked intestine. Since the show was in the middle of taping, it needed a fill-in while he recuperated.

White, an icon of American entertainment but mostly silent during the games, was asked to take the wheel. The request was a surprise to her, to say the least.

"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," she said.

"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."

The show's basic structure has not changed since White spun her first letter in 1982.

Contestants spin a large carnival-style wheel for a chance to solve word puzzles for cash and prizes.

Monday's episode is the first of a three-week run with White in charge.

For the first two weeks, Mickey and Minnie Mouse characters will take her spot at the board.

The stand-in with the letters for her third week will be revealed on the night the person first appears, White said.

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