Television hostess Vanna White suffered tragedies in her life and found comfort in her faith. She finally managed to find her happily ever after despite it all.
"Wheel of Fortune" host Vanna White experienced heartbreak when she lost her then-fiancé, actor John Gibson, in an airplane crash when he was flying outside Van Nuys airport.
The fatal incident occurred in May 1986, and White said the moment she learned about it, her knees buckled because of how devastated she was.
Vanna White with her ex-boyfriend John Gibson in 1980, Los Angeles. / Source: Getty Images
"It was May 17, 1986. The second I heard about it, I fell to my knees. It was just devastating," she recalled during an interview with People in October 2019.
White found comfort in her "Wheels of Fortune" fans, who helped her cope at the time and shared their own similar experiences of losing a loved one in an instant:
"I heard from so many people who had shared the same experience of losing someone instantly in an accident, and that really helped me. I didn't feel like I was alone."
FINDING LOVE AND EXPERIENCING TRAGEDY ALL AT ONCE
TV Personality Vanna White photographed at "Exclusive Photo Session" at her home on April 1, 1984 in Los Angeles, California. / Source: Getty Images
After mourning her lover, White found love again when she met restauranteur George Santo Pietro, whom she wed on December 31, 1990. Tragedy struck once again in 1992 when she became pregnant with their first child.
Elated with the news, White prematurely announced her pregnancy on the long-running show via a puzzle on "Wheel of Fortune." The answer was "Vanna's Pregnant."
Vanna White and her husband George Santo Pietro during the taping of "NBC Special-Comedy Hall of Fame" at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 29, 1993 in Beverly Hills, California. / Source: Getty Images
Sadly, she would live to regret that announcement because a week later, she suffered a miscarriage. White said she desperately wanted to become a mom, and when she discovered that she was expecting, joy took over:
"I so wanted to be pregnant and have a baby, so when I finally got pregnant, I wanted to tell the world immediately."
It was heartbreaking for her to lose the baby after announcing her pregnancy. But her sorrow later turned to joy when she had two children. White noted there was nothing good about losing a child.
Again, the "Gypsy Angels" star turned to friends, family, and fans who helped her through grief, and she also embraced her faith as a Christian:
"I'm a Christian and have always had my own personal relationship with God. I don't preach about it because everyone's entitled to their own beliefs. But I pray. I pray every day."
White told People in November 2019 that she grew up religious, revealing that she was baptized a Baptist. The "Vanna Speaks" author shared she grew up going to church and Sunday school weekly and believes in the power of prayer.
WHITE'S LIFE CHANGED FOR THE BETTER AFTER SHE HAD KIDS
White had her first child, son Nicholas, in June 1994. At the time, she revealed to The Baltimore Sun that life changed for the better ever since she became a mom:
"It makes everything better. It makes life worth living."
The television personality later welcomed her second child, daughter Giovanna in July 1997. In December 2007, she revealed to the now-defunct "Family Circle" magazine that she had no idea how challenging motherhood can be.
Vanna White and son Nicholas Santo Pietro during the 65th Annual Hollywood Christmas Parade on December 1, 1996 in Hollywood, California. / Source: Getty Images
White said her whole life changed after having children while sharing some of the downsides of being a parent. She mentioned lack of sleep, adding, "You're constantly worrying about their safety. But I wouldn't change a thing," White divulged.
The doting mother-of-two shared her son and daughter have brought immense love and joy into her life, more than she could have ever imagined. In the interview, White revealed what kind of food she prepared for her brood, stating she cooked an elaborate breakfast each morning.
Giovanna and Nicholas usually requested pancakes or French toast. However, she admitted that she was not much of a cook except when making her famous chicken and dumplings.
When asked whether she was involved at her children's schools, the "Graduation Day" star shared she was her daughter's class mother for that particular year.
Her responsibilities included planning potluck dinners for parents to get to know one another. White also carpooled and did some baking for cake sales and parties.
When asked what motivated her to get involved, she said kids grow up fast and did not want to miss out on anything. "Plus, I enjoy it. Being a mom is my favorite job. It's the hardest, but the most rewarding," White stated.
HOW WHITE BONDS WITH HER CHILDREN
Her children are now grownups, Nicholas is a graduate of Oregon State University, and he also attended The University of Arizona at some point.
However, it remains unclear what he does professionally. Per his Instagram, he loves traveling, indulging in delicious meals, and spending time with friends.
Nicholas, affectionately known as Nikko, and his younger sister often visited their mother on the set of "Wheel of Fortune." White once shared a picture with them on the game show set in 2003.
Giovanna, aka Gigi, graduated from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Per her Instagram account, she is an apprentice at a tattoo studio in Huntington Beach, California. In addition, she is into art, drawing, and photography.
When her brother celebrated his 26th birthday in June 2020, their mom spent the entire day with them and paid tribute to her "amazing" son on social media. White enjoys having her kids visit, especially amid the ongoing pandemic.
During quarantine in early 2020, Giovanna visited her mom to ensure she was okay, and they bonded over painting her mother's nails. The proud mom has been seeing her children every chance she gets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MEET WHITE'S LONG-TERM LOVE JOHN DONALDSON
White shares her children with former husband San Pietro, whom she divorced in May 2002. Since then, she has been involved in a long-term relationship with John Donaldson, whom she met back in 2012.
Mutual friends introduced the couple, and White once gushed over her love, saying, "He is kind, understanding, and lets me be." Though they have been together for years, the pair are in no hurry to walk down the aisle. White feels as though they are already married:
"There's no reason to change anything."
Donaldson is a successful contractor who founded his own company called JDC Construction + Development Group in 1992 and has worked on some homes belonging to Hollywood stars such as Dan Akroyd and Richard Dreyfuss.
When Donaldson first met the legendary TV star, he was reportedly smitten, and he plays an integral part in her children's lives. The foursome usually vacation together.