'Wheel of Fortune' episodes with Vanna White as solo host begin airing

For the first time in 37 years, Vanna White hosted the show solo.
Vanna White hosts "Wheel of Fortune" solo for the first time in the show's history.
Vanna White hosts "Wheel of Fortune" solo for the first time in the show's history.@TheVannaWhite

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/ Source: TODAY
By Samantha Kubota

After Pat Sajak had to have emergency surgery last month, longtime letter-turner Vanna White had to step in as host. Those episodes began airing on Monday, with mixed reactions from viewers.

Sajak had fallen ill after a blocked intestine while they were filming new episodes for the holiday season on Nov. 7. The show tweeted after one day of canceled tapings, White stepped in to host.

In Monday night's episode, Disney characters turned the letters with “magic” while White stood behind the podium.

“Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel!” she tweeted before the show aired. “I’m excited and nervous!”

Her nerves were evident to some viewers who took to Twitter to comment.

“Vanna seems uncomfortable as host and it’s making it awkward to watch #wheeloffortune,” @debi1005 said.

“I’m awkward, but not Vanna White hosting Wheel of Fortune, awkward," @Rollinintheseat joked.

But still more "Wheel"-watchers were supportive of White making the leap to solo host while Sajak was out.

“Y'all saying Vanna is awkward on her first day as though Pat isn't still super awkward 36 seasons later,” @imnotfunnydude tweeted.

“Pat Sajak had emergency surgery, which means Vanna White likely got tossed into hosting Wheel of Fortune without any preparation,” @NRuss0 posted. “Anyone criticizing her can kick rocks. Id like to see all of you try and do a job you’ve never done, and do it in front of a live audience and cameras."

“Minnie & @TheVannaWhite hosting #Wheeloffortune is the positivity boost we all need today,” @The_GamerMom posted. “Fantastic team.”

“I know the haters on social media won't like this, but I thought @TheVannaWhite did a very good job for her first time hosting with only a short notice,” @nvyoung wrote. “I'm sure she will improve in future episodes, first time doing something new can be nerve-wracking. #wheeloffortune

Another viewer pointed out she thought it was good of the producers to bring White into the spotlight instead of finding a replacement host.

“Vanna did a great job with only a couple hours notice... a little nervous - understandably - but she'll be going full stop in a day or so,” @patchouli_rose wrote. “Good for the producers to let her host instead of bringing in a guy to do it.. Great stuff!”

Sajak and White have co-hosted the show since the early 1980s, but Monday’s episode marked the first time she hosted an entire episode by herself. Previously, White filled in as host in 1996 when Sajak had laryngitis and couldn’t finish hosting an episode he’d started.

Sajak said last week he is feeling better and was back in the studio taping new episodes, and later explained the upcoming show schedule.

“It’s a bit confusing, but here’s the deal: Vanna will be hosting this coming week and the next,” he wrote. “Then two weeks of shows I taped before my surgery. Then Vanna again the week of Jan. 6 with a special guest at the puzzle board. Then the planets will realign, and it’s back to normal.”

Sajak is one of the longest-running television hosts in the United States. Another longtime TV host, Alex Trebek of "Jeopardy," has also recently had health issues. Trebek was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer earlier this year.