Monday, July 20, 2009 | 1:50 a.m.
Growing up in North Myrtle Beach, how did you first get your start in television?
When I was 10 years old, I wanted to be on TV. I just pursued it when I graduated from high school. I went to Atlanta to a fashion college and then in 1980, I moved to Los Angeles to become a star.
After gaining fame on the show, what was it like returning to your hometown for local events like the Sun Fun Festivals and parades?
It was great because I still have the same friends. I get to see my friends every year when I go home and I feel like that same girl who grew up there.
Do you ever feel that you got pigeonholed in this one role or did that not matter to you because it is such a great gig?
It didn’t matter. People made fun of me but I was the first to make fun of myself. Here I am getting paid to turn letters.
How do you feel about now being an American TV icon?
I feel good about it. I hope that I can be a good role model for a lot of people out there.
Was the success of your 1987 autobiography, Vanna Speaks!, a sort of vindication against the critics who thought you didn’t have a voice just because you spoke infrequently on the show?
With that I just wanted people to know who I was. Because the tabloids had written so many stories that weren’t true and I just kind of wanted to say this is who I am. You can like me or you don’t have to but I’ve experienced all the same things that you have in life. I’m a normal person, too.
Was there any fallout after your Playboy pictorial ran in 1987, since it was shot prior to you starting the show?
I was so thankful that my fans were so loyal to me and I got up in front of the public and told them that I made a mistake and I learned from my mistakes and I hope that I saved a lot of other people from making the same mistake.
Since you’ve never re-worn a dress, I imaging they haven’t all been so comfortable. What was your most uncomfortable moment in a dress?
Just the extremely tight ones, some of them are heavy and hard to walk in.
Do you ever get to wear flats or is it always heels?
It’s always heels, which gets old but now that they have the wedges it’s much easier and they’re much more comfortable.
Do you have a favorite dress you’ve worn on the show?
I’ve had many great dresses. There’s not one in particular because I’ve worn over 5,000 outfits. Of course there are a few that I’ve ended up buying if I’m going to a function or I just love the dress and it has versatility where I can wear it not just on one occasion.
Have you ever had a wardrobe malfunction during taping?
Oh yes, many. With zippers breaking in the middle of the show, I remember one time being literally sewn into the dress because the zipper just popped. One time a belt fell off in the middle of a show. The zipper popping was pretty amazing because it went all the way down my back and the whole dress popped open. But I’ve never revealed any private parts.
Have you ever tripped while crossing the stage to turn letters?
I have. I kind of had a full wipe out once. I was going down the stairs to congratulate a contestant and I missed the last step and just kind of went down on my face. I was embarrassed but that’s OK.
Do you ever worry about carpal tunnel or arthritis from turning all of those letters and clapping all the time?
You know, I think they were worried about it because they changed the puzzle board so now I touch instead of turn.
Do you constantly have to put on a poker face when you know the puzzle’s answer and obviously can’t reveal anything to the contestants or crowd with your expressions?
I know the puzzle beforehand but it’s easy to hide what I know.
Are you really good at the Wheel of Fortune video game or board game or can you not tolerate show-related games outside of work?
No, I get enough of "Wheel of Fortune." I’ve pulled the slot machine thing one time but I didn’t want to do it because if I did win they would think that it was rigged.
What is the oddest piece of fan mail you’ve ever received?
I used to go fishing every year. I would go on a fishing trip and I would always show my catch on the show and I got a letter from someone saying, “You fish killer! How could you do that?” I felt really bad.
Is it in your contract that you can’t change your hairstyle? Your hair seems as iconic as “The Rachel.”
No, I could change it. As a matter of fact, I cut it a few years ago. I did cut it but I like it better long. It was really short and I didn’t like it.
Do you think you’ll ever pass the torch to a new co-host or do you plan to be around for the duration of the show?
I hope to stick it out.
Do you have a favorite guest that sticks in your memory?
One of my favorite guests, and it’s just because he’s a personal friend of mine was Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers. He was a special guest on our show. And I was really touched by him because I grew up watching his show.
How do you have time to stay so fit?
Exercise, exercise, exercise. Not really a strict diet, just a lot of exercise.