Steve Eighinger

Vanna, we're gonna miss ya

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Oct. 25, 2017 9:15 am

Say it ain't so.

The recent news that Vanna White will be leaving "The Wheel of Fortune" after 37 years has left baby boomers far and wide in a mild state of shock.

Well, at least some of us.

For as long as I can remember, Vanna has been turning letters and making meaningless conversation with Pat Sajak on one of the most popular game shows in American history.

In March, that will all end.

Vanna, 60, is hanging up her evening gowns and turning her back on all those vowels and consonants to help promote a line of beauty products.

Vanna is a perfect example of why we watch game shows, or at least some of us. It's not the game itself, for crying out loud. It's the personalities connected with the programs, specifically the hosts -- and hostesses.

There is one exception to that rule, at least for me. "Jeopardy!" is the only show that could succeed no matter who was at the microphone. Its question-and-answer format is close to perfect.

The innate ability to meticulously turn a hidden letter at a precise moment has made Vanna a television icon -- with a net worth of $40 million.

Vanna's entire dialogue during her 35-plus years on "Wheel of Fortune" would probably be less than 10 combined minutes, yet audiences treasure each syllable she awards us, usually at the end of each program when she banters with Pat just before and during the closing credits.

Yes, Vanna White is the principal reason "Wheel of Fortune" has been a welcome addition to our living since the mid-1970s. Pat Sajak has always seemed like an OK guy, but, let's be honest, Clem Kadiddlehopper could have hosted the program, But there is only one Vanna. She will always be hostess with the mostess.

She will be missed, and the alphabet may never be the same.

Longest-running game shows

Vanna and Pat have made "Wheel of Fortune" the third-longest-running game show in TV history. The following top five has been assembled through a series of different reports. Some of the shows have had multiple reboots over the years, and exact time frames for some of the programs remain unclear.

Here's a breakdown for the longest-running top five, give or take a year or two:

1. "Jeopardy!": Popular host Alex Trebek, 77, holds the Guiness Book of World Records as longest-running game-show host at 33 years. The program itself has been around for 47 years.

2. "Price Is Right": The first incarnation made its debut in 1956, and in some form has been on the air for 45 years. Bill Cullen, Bob Barker and, most recently, Drew Carey, all have been immensely popular quizmasters.

3. "Wheel of Fortune": 42 years.

4. "What's My line?": Making its debut in 1950, it ran for 25 years, mostly with John Daly as host.

5. "Truth or Consequences": Hosts Jack Bailey and Bob Barker made this one of America's most popular game shows during much of its 24-year run that also began in 1950.

No other game show has had a life span of more 15 years.

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