By PATRICIA TOWLE
Wheel Of Fortune star Vanna White has mended her broken heart and finally set a firm wedding date a year after becoming engaged to her fiancé Michael Kaye.
After a series of disastrous love affairs — including a boyfriend who committed suicide, a fiancé who died in a plane crash and a husband who cheated on her — Vanna claims she has found her man in a million.
And while on vacation with her financial wizard husband-to-be and their kids in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, recently, Vanna agreed to wed Kaye in April 2006.
“Michael is everything she’s looking for and then some,” said a friend. “She chose the date because it’s far enough ahead that it will give her ample time to plan the wedding of her dreams.”
Vanna, 48, and Michael, 51, have lived together since March of last year in a Newport Beach home with the four children they share by previous marriages. But the source explained that she’s been altar-shy because of her bad track record.
“Vanna didn’t want to rush into anything that she would later regret,” said the friend. “She will be 49 when she ties the knot, so it’s important to her that this marriage lasts the rest of her life.
“But she’s always put her children’s happiness ahead of her own. Before she committed, her chief concern was whether her kids could handle the adjustment and relate to Michael as their step dad.”
According to the friend, Vanna sold her Beverly Hills bachelorette pad last March and moved herself and Nicholas, now 11, and Giovanna, eight, into the home Michael also shares with his 17-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter. “Although there have been a few small problems along the way, Vanna is really proud of how well it’s worked out. They all get along beautifully,” the friend explained.
But finding lasting love has been a rocky road for Vanna. Her first true love was Casey Ortez, who committed suicide in 1982. Then four years later, her fiancé John Gibson died in a plane crash.
It wasn’t until she met handsome Beverly Hills restaurateur George Santo Pietro, whom she married on New Year’s Eve 1990, that Vanna felt she had settled down with the man of her dreams. But she was wrong.
“George broke Vanna’s heart when he cheated on her with a young Filipino model after 10 years of marriage,” said the insider.
“Although she was humiliated by George’s behavior, Vanna acted with dignity and never said a word against him because of their kids.” But when Vanna left George and re-entered the dating world she slammed into a brick wall.
She was briefly involved with Sex And The City hunk John Corbett — who two-timed her with Bo Derek — as well as much younger marketing director Stephen Samuels and Survivor star Colby Donaldson.
“Now Vanna couldn’t be happier,” said the friend. “She really feels like she hit the jackpot with Michael, a Harvard-educated attorney and founder of a multi-million private equity investment company.
“She’s currently deciding whether to hold the low-key, family-oriented nuptials at one of their beach houses — Kauai or Myrtle Beach.
“Vanna’s beyond thrilled. After all the heartbreak and adjustment, her chief focus now is on the wedding of her dreams.”