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Vanna White Recalls Pat Sajak Comforting Her On First Day As Host Sets To Retire

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It’s the end of an era as Pat Sajak readies to retire from Wheel of Fortune, leaving behind over 40 years on the game show with his longtime colleague Vanna White. White had previously voiced plans to leave when Sajak did, and as his departure nears, White is reflecting more on her long career alongside Sajak and her thoughts on his impending retirement, along with memories of how he helped her at the start of this wild ride.

Wheel of Fortune first became a television mainstay in ’75, although it looked a bit different from its ’83 version. With Sajak joining in the early ’80s and White hopping on board not long after, the two have been a part of Wheel of Fortune history practically since its ascension to national fame.

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She expresses her disbelief that her longtime colleague is retiring from ‘Wheel of Fortune’

Vanna White feels conflicting emotions in response to Pat Sajak retiring / ImageCollect

TV Insider recently shared an interview featuring White and four decades of memories on Wheel of Fortune with Sajak. When asked how she felt about his retirement, White admitted to finding herself at the crossroads of several emotional responses at once.

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RELATED: Vanna White Reminisces As Pat Sajak Prepares To Leave ‘Wheel Of Fortune’

I can’t describe how I feel,” she explained. “I feel happy for him. I can’t imagine doing the show without him after 41 years.” To put it best into perspective, White added, “I sum it up as [like] reading a good book. It always has to end. This has been the best book I’ve ever read.”

Pinning down her favorite memory with Sajak proved just as trying, as the two worked almost half a century together. “We’ve traveled around the world together. We’ve watched our kids grow up together. We’ve thrown pies in each other’s faces,” listed White, who also believes the two know everything there is to know about one another, and that they tell each other everything. “I love him like a brother.”

The two game show icons have a long history together

Sajak was the one to comfort White when nerves threatened to take over / © Sony Pictures TV / Courtesy: Everett Collection

Series creator Merv Griffin had a daunting task recruiting the next wheel turner after original hostess Susan Stafford left to become a humanitarian worker. White had quite the challenge ahead of her too, as the nationwide search brought in some 200 hopeful applicants. Griffin narrowed it down to three contenders: Vicki McCarty, Summer Bartholomew, and White herself.

Each woman got a chance to try out during an actual game and by December 1982, White was crowned the next hostess; Merv believed she was the most capable of turning the letters. White proved to offer so much more as the younger female demographic quickly became enchanted by White and viewers loved following along with her glamorous wardrobe. The subsequent fervor among fans even got its own term: Vannamania.

The two have worked together for over four decades / Everett Collection

But before national fame became a foregone conclusion, White had her first day at work and, like so many starting something new, she was all nerves.

“I remember being extremely nervous,” recalled White. “It was hard for me to even talk. My mouth was just shaking out of nerves because it was, ‘I can’t believe this is happening. I’m on a TV show.'” Who should break the spell but Sajak himself. “Pat. [He said,] ‘Calm down, it’s going to be OK,'” shared White of the time Sajak soothed her trepidation. “I was just a little old girl from North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, wanting to be on TV from the time I was 10. He made me feel comfortable in front of a camera. He was my teacher.”

More than that, though, the two became a family, to the point that through the whirlwind of emotions White feels as Sajak retires, she can say with certainty, “Gosh, I’ve known him longer than I’ve known anybody. We will be friends forever.”

Vanna White and Pat Sajak
Though Pat Sajak is ready to retire from the show, Vanna White will stay on Wheel of Fortune / ImageCollect

RELATED: Vanna White To Remain On Wheel Of Fortune Through 2026 With New Host Ryan Seacrest

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