Adriana Xenides, once the glamorous hostess of television game show Wheel Of Fortune, has died aged 54.
Xenides passed away in Sydney’s Liverpool Hospital on Monday afternoon after reportedly suffering a ruptured intestine.
She had been admitted with a stomach complaint a few days earlier, part of “ongoing intestinal problems”.
Her former co-host John Burgess, who visited her at the hospital on Sunday, confirmed her passing in a statement issued to the Seven Network.
“It’s incredibly sad. She was a great friend and a TV legend,” he said.
The former model and television celebrity was born in Argentina and grew up in Adelaide.
She first appeared on Wheel Of Fortune aged 22.
Her 18-year run on the show is still an Australian record and she did not miss an episode until November 1996 when she fell ill with a recurring stomach virus.
“I have never missed an episode of Wheel, but under doctor’s instructions I have to take a break from the show,” she said in a statement at the time.
“I have had a gastro viral infection which I haven’t been able to shake for several months, so it’s definitely time to rest.”
Xenides went public with her illness in a television interview in 2007, describing the pain as “so hard it takes you down to your knees”.
The symptoms of her illness caused her stomach to swell to almost double its normal size.
“I looked as if I was nine months’ pregnant and from then I thought, ‘my goodness, what’s wrong?’. And they started investigating,” she told the Seven Network.
At one point, she said the digestive disorder almost claimed her life when she suffered haemorrhaging.
“I was dying and I remember being on life support and saying what’s going on, what’s happening?”
Xenides retired from television in 1996 but later appeared as a panellist on talk show Beauty And The Beast and the Australian version of Celebrity Big Brother during 2002.
In 2006, she managed to avoid a fine for dangerous driving when a Sydney court accepted she had fallen on hard times.
Xenides was disqualified from driving for 18 months after pleading guilty to one count of dangerous driving causing grievous bodily harm over a crash in Sydney in 2005.
She blamed the head-on crash on an “uncontrollable attack of continuous sneezes” and the glare of the setting sun.
The magistrate decided not to fine her because of her “financial position”.
“I don’t think I’ve fallen from grace. I don’t feel that way,” she told reporters outside the court.
Source: ABC news