For the past 37 years, Pat Sajak and Vanna White‘s special and unbreakable connection both on-and-offscreen has kept Wheel of Fortune on-air as one of the longest-running game shows ever. “People at home see the chemistry between Pat and me,” Vanna, 62, exclusively told Closer Weekly in the magazine’s latest issue, on newsstands now. “We are like brother and sister, and I think that is what makes it work.”
“It’s like lightning in a bottle,” Pat once said of their friendship. Vanna added, “We’ve never had one argument.”
Vanna was just 25 years old when she first auditioned to star alongside Pat, 72, on the hit game show back in 1982. “She decided to put everything she had into getting that job,” biographer Marianne Robin-Tani told Closer. “Vanna has a sweetness, an all-American, girl-next-door demeanor. [Show creator] Merv Griffin immediately saw her appeal.” Pat, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure about Vanna as his cohost. “She seems like a nice, sweet girl. It’s too bad she’ll never get hired for anything,” he said at the time. Clearly, he was wrong!
Behind-the-scenes, Pat and Vanna bonded over hardships in their personal lives. In 1986, Pat’s first marriage to Sherrill Sajak ended after seven years and Vanna’s then-fiancé, actor John Gibson, sadly died in a plane crash. “Vanna’s been great to work with,” Pat once said of their relationship. “We get along so well and are really best friends. We always have been,” Vanna told Closer.
Later, the two TV stars both found new love — but not with each other. “Pat once joked when Vanna was dressed in lacy white [on the show] that they were going to get married, and for years they couldn’t dispel the rumors,” author Robin-Tani said. “People even sent them toasters and Crock-Pots!”
In 1989, Pat married his second wife, photographer Lesly Brown, and the pair had two children, son Patrick, 28, and daughter Maggie, 24. Vanna moved on with restaurateur George Santo Pierto — with whom she shares kids Nicolas, 24, and Giovanna, 22 — but they divorced in 2002.
Today, Vanna lives in Los Angeles with her boyfriend, John Donaldson, and Pat resides in Maryland with his family but the two stars still come together four days per month to film Wheel of Fortune and will continue to do so until at least 2022. In the past, they’ve said that when they do leave the long-running game show, they’ll do it together. “I can’t imagine being up there with someone else,” Vanna has said.
For more on Pat Sajak and Vanna White, pick up the latest issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now — and be sure to sign up for our newsletter for more exclusive news!