The Miss America pageant has apologized to Vanessa Williams 32 years after she was forced to hand back her title.
Vanessa Williams was the first black woman to be named Miss America in 1983 but resigned after a magazine published photos of her without her consent.
“I want to apologize for anything that was said or done,” said Miss America CEO Sam Haskell.
A tearful Vanessa Williams, now 52, called the statement “unexpected” and “beautiful”.
Vanessa Williams has forged a career as an actress, with major roles in Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives.
Photo Getty Images
She also scored a global hit in 1992 with the ballad Save the Best for Last; and her recording of Colors of the Wind from Disney’s Pocahontas soundtrack earned her a Golden Globe, a Grammy and an Oscar for best original song.
Vanessa Williams won Miss America in September 1983 but, months later, the pageant’s executive committee voted unanimously to request that she resign after Penthouse magazine published photos she had posed for several years earlier.
She remains the only title-holder who was asked to resign in the Miss America pageant’s history.
Vanessa Williams was invited back to the competition this year by Chairman Sam Haskell, who asked her to serve as head judge.
Before the competition started, Sam Haskell invited her on stage to receive the apology.
“I have been a close friend to this beautiful and talented lady for 32 years,” he told the audience.
“You have lived your life in grace and dignity, and never was it more evident than during the events of 1984 when you resigned.
“Though none of us currently in the organization were involved then, on behalf of today’s organization, I want to apologize to you and to your mother, Miss Helen Williams.”
Sam Haskellcontinued: “I want to apologize for anything that was said or done that made you feel any less than the Miss America you are and the Miss America you always will be.”
The audience gave Vanessa Williams a standing ovation and TV coverage showed her mother on the verge of tears.
“Thank you so much, Sam, so unexpected but so beautiful,” said the actress.
“I did the best that I could as Miss America in 1983 to 84,” Vanessa Williams said.
“On behalf of my family, my mother in particular; [publicist] Brian Edwards, who orchestrated this entire thing to bring me back; and your leadership, your integrity and you bringing this pageant back to what it ought to be. I love you. I love the girls. And I’m so honored to be back.”
Vanessa Williams then returned to her seat and helped select the new Miss America – 21-year-old Betty Cantrell of Georgia.
Legendary TV actor and presenter Gary Collins has died aged 74.
Gary Collins passed away in the early hours of Saturday morning and his death was said to be from natural causes.
The tragedy took place just before 1:00 a.m. at Biloxi Regional Medical Center in the American state of Missouri, according Harrison County Coroner Gary Hargrove.
Gary Collins married former Miss America Mary Ann Mobley in 1967 and the couple – who separated last year although remained wedded – had one child together, Mary Clancy Collins, Senior Vice President of Development for MGM Television.
He was previously married to Susan Peterson with whom he had two other children, Guy William Collins and Melissa “Mimi” Collins.
Legendary TV actor and presenter Gary Collins has died aged 74
The master of ceremonies for the Miss America Pageant from 1985-1989 is also known for having appeared on episodes of programmes such as Fantasy Island, Charlie’s Angels, Alice, The Love Boat and Police Story.
Gary Collins also hosted the talk show Hour Magazine from 1980-1988.
Over the last few years, his public image has been far from wholesome.
In January 2008 Gary Collins served four days in a Glendale, California jail for his second driving under the influence conviction.
Gary Collins pleaded no contest to driving a motor home drunk after his arrest January 31, 2009, in Santa Barbara County, California.
He was sentenced to 120 days home detention according to a Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s spokesperson.
His blood alcohol content was measured at .29, more than three times the legal limit.
In November 2010 Gary Collins was charged with a misdemeanor for leaving the scene of an accident in Jackson, Mississippi. He was fined $500 for the incident.
Then on January 5, 2011, Gary Collins was charged with defrauding an innkeeper, a felony, in Harrison County, Mississippi, for allegedly failing to pay his bill at Jazzeppi’s Restaurant, according to a statement released by the Biloxi Police Department.
Gary Collins paid a $500 fine two weeks later and did not appear in court.
Laura Kaeppeler, the beauty queen from Kenosha, Wisconsin, won the Miss America pageant on Saturday in Las Vegas after singing opera and strutting in a white bikini and black beaded evening gown.
Laura Kaeppeler, 23, had to answer a question about whether beauty queens should declare their politics.
“Miss America represents everyone, so I think the message to political candidates is that they represent everyone as well,” Laura Kaeppeler said.
“And so in these economic times, we need to be looking forward to what America needs, and I think Miss America needs to represent all.”
Miss Oklahoma Betty Thompson came in second, while Miss New York Kaitlyn Monte placed third, the Associated Press reports.
Laura Kaeppeler wins a $50,000 scholarship and gets the title for one year.
Her platform during the competition was supporting and mentoring children of incarcerated parents.
Laura Kaeppeler, the beauty queen from Kenosha, Wisconsin, won the Miss America pageant on Saturday in Las Vegas
Laura Kaeppeler was crowned the winner by a panel of seven judges during a live telecast on ABC.
The event was the culmination of a week of preliminary competitions and months of preparations for the titleholders from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
As the new Miss America, Laura Kaeppeler will spend the next year touring the country to speak to different groups and raising money for the Children’s Miracle Network, the Miss America Organization’s official charity.
Teresa Scanlan of Nebraska won Miss America last year at age 17 to become the pageant’s youngest winner ever.
She said contestants’ nerves likely were at their highest point just before the pageant.
“You can always breathe a sigh of relief once the live pageant begins,” Teresa Scanlan said.
Pageant officials earlier announced the winners of preliminary competitions, including Laura Kaeppeler, Betty Thompson and Miss Hawaii Lauren Cheape for talent; and Miss New York Kaitlin Monte, Miss Texas Kendall Morris and Miss Utah Danica Olsen for swimsuit.
Laura Kaeppeler took home a $2,000 scholarship for her opera performance of “Il Bacio” in the talent competition.
Officials also said Miss Idaho Genevieve Nutting won the $2,000 Fourpoints Award, while Miss Kentucky Ann-Blair Thornton won the $6,000 Quality of Life scholarship.
The Miss America Organization touts itself as the world’s largest giver of scholarships to women, with about $350,000 to be given this year at the national level.
Teresa Scanlan said she planned to use her scholarship to help pay for law school en route to a life in politics.
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