Big shoes to fill. Vanna White has been flipping letters in enviable dresses on Wheel of Fortune for more than 30 years — but she’s always felt comfort in having host Pat Sajak by her side. It wasn’t until last month when the host underwent emergency surgery for a blocked intestine, did White have to face the show alone.
“It was horrible, just horrible,” she told ABC News of the moment she learned of Sajak’s health scare. “We’ve been together 37 years, and it’s not the same — we are a team. We’re together. It just felt weird with him not being here on the set.”
It was then the producers came to White and asked if she would feel comfortable temporarily taking over Sajak’s role as host, something that was very foreign to her.
“I was like, ‘What? No. You’re kidding, right?'” she recalled asking. “And my first thought was, ‘There’s no way.’ I don’t pay attention to Pat. I’m busy with my letters and my puzzle board. [You] have to be aware of everything that’s going on, where before all I had to worry about was letters. Now I have to carry the whole show, I have to talk to all three players and make sure I get their scores right.”
But they were serious. And though she admitted she was “petrified” and “terrified” to take on the lead role of the game show, she accepted the challenge. In fact, she hosted the show for three full weeks while Sajak was in recovery, and fans will be able to see that unfold starting Monday, Dec. 9.
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The Wheel of Fortune taping on Thursday was canceled because host Pat Sajak underwent successful emergency surgery to correct a blocked intestine. He is resting comfortably and looking forward to getting back to work. Taping resumed today as scheduled and Vanna White has stepped in as host.
“Those three weeks without him was very hard. I really missed him,” she added. “I just can’t imagine doing this show without him, you know? And I hope he feels the same with me.”
On Dec. 5, the Wheel of Fortune Twitter page confirmed that Sajak has returned to work and has resumed his hosting responsibilities. “Pat is back! We are so happy to have him return to his spot at the Wheel today! (Vanna may be happiest of all),” the caption read alongside a photo of the host in front of the famous wheel.
— Wheel of Fortune (@WheelofFortune) December 5, 2019