Wheel of Fortune's Adriana Xenides remembered as "class act"

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Industry pays tribute to beloved Australian game show hostess, dead at 54.

She was part of afternoon television for nearly 20 years, but yesterday Adriana Xenides passed away in a Liverpool Hospital, aged 54.

She had been admitted for stomach pains, but died just before 5pm from a ruptured intestine with her family at her bedside.

Xenides had battled an ongoing gastro-intestinal disorder later in life, which resulted in a bloated stomach, more than twice its normal size. In interviews she spoke about how it triggered depression.

It contrasted to her glamorous on-screen persona on nearly two decades of co-hosting Wheel of Fortune. Xenides worked on the Seven show for 18 years, recognised by the Guinness Book of Records, until finally being eclipsed by US presenter Vanna White.

During that time she worked with John Burgess for 12 years, plus Ernie Sigley, Rob Elliott, Tony Barber and announcer John Deeks. She never missed a day until a seven-month break for illness in the mid 1990's.

On the show she was always memorable for her elegant gowns, perfect diction and style. With Burgess she turned a simple game show into a ratings success for Seven for years on end.

After her run on Wheel ended, the transition out of the spotlight was difficult. She appeared on panel show Beauty and the Beast and as a participant on Celebrity Big Brother where her personality showed a slightly childlike nature.

She once consulted a teddy bear for advice on who to evict, live on national TV. But her entrance into the Big Brother house came with flowing gowns and live tigers -- indicative of her theatricality.

John Burgess visited her in hospital yesterday. ''I'm pleased she went peacefully,'' he has said. ''We worked for 12 years together on Wheel of Fortune and never had a blue, never had an argument, in all that time, which is remarkable for the business we're in."

Seven's director of Programming and Production, Tim Worner said, "Adriana was a wonderful performer. It was no accident she held the world record for the longest running co-host of Wheel Of Fortune. She brought something very special to the show.

Her charm and her warmth were always shining brightly and she was her bubbly self with one and all -- the same with contestants, audience members or crew.

The lady was a class act and her many friends at Seven will miss her. We are really sad to hear the news and our thoughts are with Adriana's family and friends."

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