Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Vanna White was once a Price Is Right contestant. It didn't go well

Illustration for article titled Vanna White was once a Price Is Right contestant. It didn't go well
Screenshot: Retro Warehouse

Back before Vanna White had become the undisputed queen of revealing giant letters on Wheel Of Fortune, she was a young actor who, like other young actors after her, just wanted to win some big prizes on The Price Is Right.

A clip from the June 20th, 1980 episode of Price Is Right shows a 23-year old White embracing the show’s amphetamine-like atmosphere as her name is called and she gets to “come on down” for a shot at winning a dream exercise set. Bob Barker singles her out from the contestants for her “Get Serious” t-shirt, which he explains, without much beyond the barest, creepily unstated context, attracted the attention of one of “fellows on the crew” who read her shirt and said, “I am! I am!” Stay tuned for latter in the clip when Barker uses similar charm to chastise her for not knowing what other contestants have bid, incorrectly claiming she’s too busy looking at herself in the monitor.

White doesn’t advance on from Bidders’ Row, but she was obviously studying the set around her with wide-eyed glee, knowing that a game show set filled with crowds of over-excited people was her natural habitat. Even though she didn’t win anything from The Price Is Right, the experience must have been valuable. White would press on to become a Wheel Of Fortune host whose very name is synonymous with people screaming out letters at the tops of their lungs on international television. And, perhaps in retribution for being denied the top-of-the-line exercise set offered on The Price Is Right, she would also use her stardom to promote her very own weight loss program in the form of an unsettling 1987 dieting video.

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Contributor, The A.V. Club. Reid's a writer and editor who has appeared at GQ, Playboy, and Paste. He also co-created and writes for videogame sites Bullet Points Monthly and Digital Love Child.

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