How Hugh Hefner Destroyed His Friendship With Vanna White

It’s not often that you hear Vanna White’s name in the headlines, unless it has something to do with a “Wheel of Fortune” contestant choosing the right vowel at the right time, or forgetting one altogether. That, and her professional relationship with “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak, has certainly garnered a lot of attention as well. Speaking to Entertainment Tonight in 2021, White spoke about her potential retirement and what it was like working with Sajak for nearly four decades. She said: “We’ve been together for about 38 years and he’s like my brother. He is funny. I mean, we could finish each other’s sentences if we wanted to. We know each other so well.”

And while White’s time in the spotlight has been largely scandal-free, it hasn’t always been. In fact, White did the cover of one of the most controversial, if not salacious, magazines of all time, Playboy — and without her consent, too. In fact, her 1987 feature film in Playboy destroyed her relationship with publisher Hugh Hefner.

Vanna White asked Hugh Hefner not to publish her photo in Playboy

Apparently there are many troubling things about Hugh Hefner that everyone seems to ignore, but the move he made in 1987 is one Vanna White will remember forever. While many of her fans today see White as the wholesome television personality of a family-friendly game show, that wasn’t always the case. That’s because before she became a household name, White did a lingerie shoot in hopes it would help her career (or at least get some recognition). White explained why she took the job in her book, Vanna Speaks, “I was contacted and offered a lot of money, more money than I’d made from any job since I came to LA, even though I should have If I knew better, I saw only one solution to my problem — shoot, get the money, pay the rent, and avoid the eviction.”

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However, she never wanted it to end up in the pages of Playboy, and that’s exactly what happened when Hefner bought these pictures. While on “The Wendy Williams Show” (via Entertainment Tonight), White said, “I wasn’t on it [the cover] because I wanted to.” She reportedly asked Hefner not to publicize the photos. She recalled, “I said, ‘Hef, if you put me on the cover, my career could be ruined…'” White to take Hefner to court.

Vanna White bought a vowel – and a lawsuit

Vanna White was so upset with Hugh Hefner for posting her lingerie photos that she bought a vocal — and a lawsuit. In February 1987, White Hefner’s attorneys slapped a $5.2 million lawsuit to prevent Playboy from publishing her non-nude photos because, according to the Los Angeles Times, she never gave permission for publication, to use them. However, White dropped the lawsuit, per The Washington Post, all because Playboy allegedly “tricked the public into believing the photos were more revealing and provocative than they actually are.” The cover, however, showed White wearing a long-sleeved shirt, revealing her bare bottom.

White then went on “Johnny Carson” as part of her so-called apology tour. She also told Fox News in 2017 that she’s still embarrassed about her Playboy cover to this day. White said: “When I first moved to Hollywood, I was too embarrassed to ask my dad for rent money. I was young and wanted to do it alone. So I did these lingerie shots and from the moment I would say it, I was like, ‘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!'” With others words, this scandal has been solved with the help of some much-needed vowels.

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