Vanessa Williams - Miss America 1984
Pageant Winners > Miss America 1984 Vanessa Williams
The 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.
Despite 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.
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
Vanessa Williams, Miss New York, winning the swimsuit competition, and later the talent competition.
Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, won both talent and swimsuit awards on her way to her historic victory.
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