Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984

Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984 

Pageant Winners > Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984The first African-American woman ever to win the Miss America Pageant, Williams was a stand-out who won both the swimsuit and talent competitions on her way to winning the national title. Many who were in Convention hall the night she was named Miss America shared that there was a palpable excitement in the audience that Williams would win...and that another racial barrier would be broken.  The televised crowning of the country's first black Miss America transfixed the country and Williams was instantly vaulted into fame.


During her reign she experienced public respect and the fruits of her new position - fame, personal appearance income, and commercial endorsement fees - but she also faced racial taunts and threats behind the scenes. Her reign was considered to be a highly successful one...until the fateful day when the pageant's all-male board of directors received world that nude photographs of their titleholder would soon be published in the raunchy Penthouse magazine.

Although Vanessa had posed for the nude photos with the understanding that the silhouette-only format would make her unrecognizable, and she had never signed a release allowing for publication of the photos, the damage was done.  Stunned by the the sexually-explicit nature of the images, the board asked Vanessa Williams to resign and, in July 1984 she became the first Miss America titleholder ever to be officially asked to relinquish her title.

Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984The first runner-up, Miss New Jersey, Suzette Charles, assumed the title of Miss America 1984 for the remainder of her year. Charles became the pageant's second African-American titleholder.

Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984 in RaserDespite initially appearing to be ruined by scandal, she rebounded and achieved fame as a recording artist.  1988 marked her professional debut, with her first album, The Right Stuff.  It was followed by four hits: Dreamin, Darling I, He Got the Look which earned her first three Grammy nominations, including Best New Artist. Vanessa's album, Colors of the Wind, won an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award and a Grammy Award for Best Song in a Motion Picture.

Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984 in Keep the Faith BabyShe has conquered Broadway, starring as the lead in Kiss of the Spider Woman, and films.  In 1996 she starred opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the action film, Eraser.

In 2006, she added television stardom to her repertoire when she was signed to play Wilhelmina Slater on the ABC hit, Ugly Betty, which she followed with a role (Renee Filmore-Jones) in another hit show, Desperate Housewives in 2010.

Vanessa Williams Interesting Facts

  • State: New York
  • Age: 22
  • Appearance: Green-eyed, brunette
  • Education: Syracuse University
  • Talent: Popular vocal "Happy Days are Here Again"
  • Preliminary Awards: Won the talent and swimsuit competitions.
  • Williams won the local Miss Syracuse pageant and Miss New York pageant on her way to the Miss America title.
  • The first African-American woman ever to win the Miss America title.
  • Her parents were music teachers in the Millwood, New York public school system.
  • Career: Award-winning singer, television, theater and film actress

Vanessa Williams Miss America 1984 Photos 

Vanessa Williams Miss America 1984 swimsuit competition Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, talent winner
Vanessa Williams, Miss New York, winning the swimsuit competition, and later the talent competition.

Vanessa Williams Miss America 1984 - wins swimsuit and talent awards
Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, won both talent and swimsuit awards on her way to her historic victory.

Vanessa Williams Miss America 1984 Videos

 

Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, performing in the talent competition.


Vanessa Williams is crowned Miss America 1984 in an historic moments for pageants and racial relations in the USA.


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