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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 18, 1957

All right.  Today's Tuesday Timeline entry was a bit difficult for me, as I was having a tough time selecting a decent topic of discussion.  I ended up just choosing someone at random to focus on.  Interestingly enough, I ended up doing a topic about the television show that made our featured Tuesday Timeline feature famous nearly three years ago.  So, for those of you who may have been reading the blog back then, it might seem like a bit of regurgitation for you.  But for those of you who are new to the party, it'll be like a brand new entry!

(Well, okay, this entry will feature more of the person and less of the show, making it mostly new.  But anyway, I'm babbling again, so what do you say that I just get on with it, shall I?)

So, what sorts of things happened in the world on February 18?  Well, let's have a look!

1814 - The Battle of Montereau takes place during the Napoleonic Wars

1861 - Jefferson Davis is inaugurated as the provisional President of the Confederate States of America

1865 - Union forces under Major General William T. Sherman set the South Carolina State House ablaze during the burning of Columbia

1878 - The murder of John Tunstall by outlaw Jesse James sparks the Lincoln County War in New Mexico

1885 - "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn", written by Mark Twain, is first published in the United States

1911 - The first official flight with air mail aboard takes place in the area originally known as British India

1919 - Actor Jack Palance (d. 2006) is born in Pennsylvania with the birth name of Volodymyr Jack Palahniuk

1920 - Game show host Bill Cullen (d. 1990) is born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

1930 - Clyde Tombaugh discovers Pluto while studying photographs that were taken the previous month

1943 - The Nazis begin arresting members of the White Rose Movement during World War II

1950 - American director John Hughes (d. 2009) is born in Lansing, Michigan

1954 - The Church of Scientology is established in Los Angeles, California

1969 - Everybody on board Hawthorne Nevada Airlines Flight 708 are killed following the plane crashing into the side of Mount Whitney in California

1970 - The Chicago Seven are found not guilty of charges that they incited riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention

1978 - The first Ironman Triathlon competition is held on the island of Oahu, Hawaii

1979 - Snow falls over the Sahara Desert near southern Algeria for the first - and thus far ONLY time in recorded history

1991 - Terror strikes Paddington and Victoria stations in London as the IRA detonates bombs in both areas

2001 - NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt is killed when his car gets into an accident at the Daytona 500

2006 - American musician Bill Cowsill dies of emphysema in Calgary, Alberta at the age of 58

2007 - Sixty-eight people are killed when terrorists bomb the Samjhauta Express in Panipat, Haryana, India

And, for these lucky celebrities and famous faces, they're turning one year older today.  So a big birthday wish goes out to Toni Morrison, Yoko Ono, Dick Duff, Ab McDonald, Judy Rankin, Dennis DeYoung, Cybill Shepherd, Randy Crawford, Juice Newton, Robbie Bachman, John Travolta, Tony Anselmo, Matt Dillon, Dr. Dre, Molly Ringwald, Raine Maida, Jillian Michaels, Sarah Joy Brown, Ike Barinholtz, Chelsea Hobbs, Todd Lasance, and Maiara Walsh.

Oh, yeah.  Today's blog subject is also celebrating a birthday today.  And she was born fifty-seven years ago today on February 18, 1957.

Okay, so let's go over some of the things that she did in her career.  She has made several appearances on sitcoms over the years.  She even appeared in a couple of movies (though critics raked her over the coals, unfortunately).  She has written a best-selling biography, started up her own yarn company, was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2006, and believe it or not, she currently holds a Guinness World Record!

Okay, so the title of world's most frequent clapper might not seem like that big of a deal to some of you.  But nevertheless, she has held that record since 1992 - twenty-two years and counting.

And, perhaps the one job that she is best known for in her career is one that she began a little over thirty-one years ago in December 1982.  And, her very presence on television has made people want to buy vowels, spin a wheel, and solve a puzzle.

Interestingly enough, the very first time this lady ever made a television appearance was also on a game show.  Only instead of hosting the show, she was actually a contestant.  A really bad contestant.

Let's just say that she came on down...and never left.

That clip of "The Price Is Right" originally aired on June 20, 1980.  And, it's just a shame that then 23-year-old Vanna White never did get a chance to play "Cliff Hangers" or "Any Number" or "Dice Game".  But hey, when you consider that just a couple of years later on December 13, 1982, she would be given the chance to replace departing hostess Susan Stafford on what is considered to be one of the most popular game shows of all time.  Have a look at Vanna's first iconic appearance on "Wheel of Fortune".

Wow..."Wheel Of Fortune" circa 1982 was way different than it is now!  But one thing that hasn't changed was just how charismatic and beautiful Vanna White is.  She was just as much of a natural charmer back then as she is now.

And today she turns fifty-seven years old!  I know!  57!  I have a hard time believing it myself.

So, I've already started the wheel spinning so to speak.  I've talked about how she made her first appearance as a really lousy contestant, and transitioned into one of the most recognizable and respected faces in the history of game shows.

What I haven't really touched upon is some of the personal stories along the way that helped her get to that point.

We all know that Vanna got her start turning letters on the big board (and here's some trivia for you - the very first letter she made appear on the puzzle board was a "T").  And, now Vanna gets the chance to take it easy since the board was turned into a touch-screen board in the mid-1990s.  But, I bet you didn't know that Vanna White was not the name that she was given at birth!

When Vanna was born fifty-seven years ago in Conway, South Carolina, her birth name was Vanna Marie Rosich, born to Joan Marie and Miguel Angel Rosich (her father was Puerto Rican).  Sadly, Vanna's father abandoned the family when Vanna was still a child, but her mother remarried a man named Herbert Stackley White, and Vanna made the decision to take his name as her legal last name when she was young.

And, of course, we all know that Vanna White was made the permanent hostess of "Wheel Of Fortune" alongside host Pat Sajak in 1982.  But did you know that she also dabbled in several sitcom appearances.  She made memorable appearances in "Married...With Children", "Full House", "227", and believe it or not, she served as a guest timekeeper at WrestleMania IV!  She also tried her hand at acting in films as well - particuarly in 1994's "Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult" and a 1988 television movie "Goddess of Love".  But the movie career didn't exactly pan out as TV Guide reviewed her performance as being "wheely" bad.

Oh, well.  Somehow, I don't think her feelings are hurt over it that badly.  I often wonder just how much money she makes per letter, anyway.

And, for what it's worth, Vanna's made it to almost every single taping of "Wheel Of Fortune" since she began working there thirty-one years ago - with two notable exceptions.

For one week in 1986, former hostess Susan Stafford filled in for Vanna White who had taken time off to grieve the loss of her fiance.  At the time, she was engaged to former soap opera actor John Gibson, but tragically he was killed in a plane crash on May 17, 1986 at the age of 37.  It reportedly took some time for Vanna to properly grieve his passing, and it certainly took a while for Vanna to open her heart to love again.  But in 1990, she met and fell in love with George San Pietro.  They got married in December 1990, and enjoyed their honeymoon during January 1991 - in which Tricia Gist substituted for her during that period.

Unfortunately, that marriage dissolved in 2002.  But the good news was that she did give birth to son Nicholas in 1994, and daughter Giovanna in 1997.

And Vanna White has proven that she has business skills as well, taking her love of knitting and crocheting to a whole new level by creating her own line of yarn with the brand name "Vanna's Choice"!

While I can't say that she'll be crocheting any of the dresses that she will wear on "Wheel Of Fortune", I think it's a fair bet to say that she's moved on from not winning on "The Price Is Right" quite nicely.

Happy birthday, Vanna White!

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