If she could turn back time. Vanna White revealed in a new interview that she has regrets about posing for a risqué lingerie shoot that later appeared on the cover and inside the May 1987 issue of Playboy magazine.
Speaking with Fox News for a Q&A published on Wednesday, March 29, the 60-year-old Wheel of Fortune star explained that she only took the racy photos to help pay her rent when she left her hometown of North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, to pursue a showbiz career in Los Angeles.
“Here’s the thing. When I first moved to Hollywood, I was too embarrassed to ask my dad for rent money,” she said. “I was young and I wanted to do it on my own. So, I did these lingerie shots and from the moment I said I would do them, I thought, ‘I shouldn’t be doing this, but I’m not going to ask my dad for money, so I’m just going to do it!’ Once I got Wheel of Fortune and some fame, Hugh Hefner then bought those pictures. He’s the one who put me on the cover of the magazine.”
The NSFW photo that Hefner, now 90, chose to use as the cover image featured White showing off her bare bottom while sitting on a windowsill. The cover line read, “Vanna: Before Wheel of Fortune.”
“I didn’t do it for Playboy,” she continued. “I did not want them on there, but it happened. I was very thankful that I had such support behind me. I remember going on [The Tonight Show With] Johnny Carson and saying, ‘I’m so sorry, this is what happened.’ And this is a lesson that applies today: Never do anything that you don’t want to do. Listen to your instincts and follow it.”
According to White, she was fearful that the unfortunate circumstances would cost her her job as the cohost and letter-turner on Wheel of Fortune, which she began in 1982. “I said, ‘I made a mistake, I’m sorry and I just hope I don’t lose my job over it,’” she added. “Fortunately, I didn’t. I could have, you know? It was a great lesson to learn, but what can I say? I did something I shouldn’t have done.”
During a February 2016 appearance on The Wendy Williams Show, White recounted the conversation she had with Hefner about his decision to make her Miss May.
“[Hugh] was my friend and he said, ‘Vanna, we are going to put you on the cover.’ I said, ‘Hef, if you put me on the cover, my career could be ruined,’ and they did it anyway,” she told the talk show host. “…I feel bad, it was a long time ago, but that really hurt my feelings and thanks to everyone out there who was on my side. They didn’t fire me and everybody was very supportive and it was a great lesson. Don’t ever do anything that you think is wrong, listen to that little voice inside of you ’cause I wish I wouldn’t have done it, and I did it, so remember that.”
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